I thought I'd post some pictures of the basket that Emily and I created at the Living Earth School weekend (Weaving the Sacred Circle) we just had. And of course, I had to include Emily's knives in this picture! The one on the left is new--we got it from Kate and Hub last weekend.
We made this from a birdhouse gourd. First we sawed gently (they can crack easily with too much pressure) around the gourd, then used an awl to punch through the spots that were still attached. Our awl was an improvised one--a long nail that had been ground to a sharper point.
Then we took turns using the awl to poke holes around the top of our bowl, so we could sew through it.
The pine needles we used were about 10 inches long, not from local trees--I don't remember the name, but some pine tree that is more southern than what's found in our part of Virginia. The needles were soaking in warm water to be pliable, but they were already dry/brown--if you use green needles, the weaving becomes loose as they dry and shrink.
In this picture, you can see some of the inside that was scraped out--it makes good tinder, by the way. There are some seeds from the gourd, and the top, which Emily then cut again. She wants to make a maraca-type instrument from the top piece. I think the middle section would make a nice bowl if I can weave a tight closure for the small hole, then stand it on that. This site, NativeTech shows how to make a coiled pine needle basket. The pine needles, straw gauge, and sinew we used are also displayed here.
The sewing needles we used to thread the synthetic sinew around the needles were just large sewing needles or leather-work needles, didn't matter which. A neat trick to keep the bundles of pine needles the same thickness was to use a section of a McDonald's drinking straw as the gauge. As it got looser because the needles were of different lengths, we added more pine needles to the middle of the straw. This site lists materials you might want for basket weaving.
I've never worked with any kind of basket weaving, and I found this to be very satisfying and relaxing work. I'm hoping we can use some of the honeysuckle around our property to create more baskets with the gourds I grew last summer.
This site is from a local woman who creates honeysuckle baskets for sale. I noticed this in her bio section:
Anne received no schooling. She did studying on her own, mostly while out with the goats - the young goats often staying nearby or sleeping in her lap. Later, at age nineteen, she received her GED diploma.
I thought that the basket made a nice physical/visual metaphor for our female-ness, representing the womb, in my mind, especially as this was a mother daughter weekend activity.