Hello hello! I have just retreated inside after one of the most beautiful sunny March days you could possibly ask for. The bees were buzzing, the butterflies were bobbing, all was happy in the garden. I have waited with baited breath for spring, I never enjoy the grey days of January and February, hence why I signed up for Willow Weaving classes at the Farnham Maltings, a six week course concentrating on basket making, which I didn't try at my last set of workshops. As you can see by the picture above, I managed two classic baskets, one tray and a cheeky wreath that was made from my baskets cut offs - thrify!
The classes were run by my favourite willow weaver Judith Needham who's beautiful playhouses and dens are joyful works of art much in demand in our local area. I always smile when driving past an allotment or garden and spot the distinctive silhouettes in the distance, I love them! She also runs a Folksy shop, but do take a look at her main website for amazing dens and seats for grown ups too! Here are a few in all their glory:
I wanted to use an array of willow this time, and learnt that I prefer green for most structural work, as it seemed less likely to make you cringe with a sad snapping noise when finishing the piece. I later figured out I could successfully soak my un-finished work in our spare un-used wheelie bin to stay flexiable until next class, which was a good result! It took until lesson three for me to really get into my stride, luckily Judith had compiled some very comprehensive guides for us to take home, so we weren't left to our own confusing devices! She is a wonderfully patient and inspiring teacher, trust me, three hours go in a flash, I think we stayed late every week - whoops!
Once I got into the flow and really felt the pattern, I could finally start to understand how the willow knits itself together. In fact, I bet if you can knit you would take to this much quicker than I did, but luckily I improved greatly and was very pleased with my results! I went to the classes with my friend Ani who is a textile artist with amazing weaving skills - needless to say her baskets were showstoppers! We have vowed to order some willow and keep practicing, I want to make some garden structures next.
Judith runs workshops all year round, so if you are in the Surrey/Hampshire area do look her up and get booking! It's a very satisfying craft, quite meditative, and certainly addictive! And you get lots of handy practical baskets and trays out of it, I can't wait to get my tray turned into an easter display on the fireplace. I have put them in the shepherds hut to dry out for a while, the smell of damp willow although not unpleasant, isn't desired in the front room after the spring cleaning!
Here I am on my very first lesson putting together a base for my basket - look at that concentration!