Basket Weaving for Beginners!

Basket Weaving for Beginners!

Tracy Pepler relates her experiences on a basket weaving course in Kent.  Let us know if you've been on a course you'd recommend to woodland owners:-

Last weekend I decided to have a go at basket weaving. Like many people I had looked at books and tried to follow the instructions, only to decide moments later that it might as well be written in Chinese! So, I finally booked myself on a course with Alan Sage (ajscrafts.co.uk) who holds courses at the Rare Breeds Centre in Kent and it was the best value for money I have ever had on a course! Alan was very patient and thorough as he went through all the steps from harvesting and preparing the willow, to the final product. He showed us a variety of baskets, and although we all made a round base, he encouraged people to try a variety of weaves, and handles, so we could watch and learn from each other.

Weaving can be done with a variety of materials, reeds, grasses, woods, fabric and a course is a very good way to get started. If you are interested in doing some weaving, winter is a good time to collect your willow. Straight, thin poles at least 4 ft long are the best. They must have no side branches or injuries. The willow needs to be dried out and then re-soaked before using, so this is when the pond becomes very useful! All woodland owners should have a go! I learned a new respect for people who make baskets. I had sore hands and fingers and a tired brain  but it was great fun and you end up with a very useful resource.

basket 1

1.  Made a start ...

basket 2

2.  You need lots of room when you add the upstakes!

basket 3

3. Making the handles


basket 4

4. My somewhat rustic basket!








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The Basketmakers Accociation sell videos on Basketmaking – Quite a good selection from round baskets to lobster pots. The Web site is http://www.basketassoc.org They also publish details of courses being run on this site too. We run courses in South Cheshire – http://www.redstonewillows.co.uk
Hope this is of use to someone!

Christine Redstone

27 May, 2011

Why not try searching on you-tube for video tutorials?
I’ve followed links to a couple & they’re really good.
However, as has been said before I’m afraid there’s no substitute for someone actually showing you.

Sarah F

29 October, 2010

The irish basketmakers association has re-edited their videos into dvd’s. check out the website and get to see a clip of each film . The one on Bill is good for beginners and fun, the one on Norbert is for more advanced, he does a square picnic hamper… website; http://www.basketmakingireland.com it doesn’t state the price but i can tell they are ten euro each plus one euro for post&pack. good luck V


9 July, 2010

Hello all guys and girls, I am a semi-retired carpenter with a garden shed workshop and I have been making handcarts from, mainly, recycled pallets and leftover bits of timber from building sites. Do you basket makers think a ‘picnic basket’ cart is a good idea? I could integrate a kind of basket structure on the undercarriage to take a picnic through a wood or from a car park to the beach, any thoughts on basket type hinges would be welcome. Regards NI.

Nigel Goldstraw

8 June, 2009

Hi Steve

A DVD would be great, I don’t know of any. Although, I must admit, I think it would be really difficult to follow and nothing beats having a tutor. If you can get a group of you together, you might be able to ask someone to travel to you for a couple of days – or go and have a holiday elsewhere in the country where you can find a course.
Sad that you haven’t any near you.
Hope you find a way!

Tracy Pepler

29 May, 2009

Hi, does anyone know where I can get a dvd (or video!!) on basket weaving -for beginners!! I live near Oldham and have trawled the net for local basket weaving courses, but the art is dying and there are none to be found. Any help, advice or tips would be great – thanks in advance,



28 May, 2009

very beautifull,i like it very much


17 April, 2009

Thanks for this great info. Does anyone know of a course as good as Alan Sage’s in either the Bournemouth or Lichfield, Staffs area?


29 March, 2009

Hi Denise

Alan runs a basket makers group and he might be able to post you an order or know someone who can.
You can contact him on

[email protected]

Hopefully he can help!

Tracy Pepler

18 December, 2008

came across this whilst searching the internet looking for a potato basket- about 2’6″ high – where the tatties are poured in the top and taken out as required from a opening near the base – has a bit lip and rim round it to stop them rolling out

whilst I would love to have a go making one – I live too far away to go to the recommended workshop (- I may have a go anyway – spurred on by Tracy’s achievement) does anyone know where I could buy one from that would post to my address ?

thanks Denise, Orkney


15 December, 2008

Talking of books …… we have just published Baskets in Europe by Maurice Bichard. It has lots of colour pictures of baskets from all over Europe, has a section on techniques and materials you can use, and might inspire you to try something different. It won’t tell you how to make them, but it is very informative about their history. More details are at http://www.basketsineurope.co.uk (you can have a preview of some of the pages too).

Hannah Bichard

19 September, 2008

Very informative, thanks for the idea.

David Davis

David Davis

1 June, 2008

And if you’d like to see some pictures of Tracy on the course…

Mike Pepler

25 January, 2008

Wow, great info here… I like very much. I might have some related information about basket weaving, you can go to http://www.basketweavingsecrets.com to have a look. I hope all of you would enjoy it as much as i enjoy this post.

Davud Davis

6 January, 2008


Tracy did very well making her basket, I believe she was also the first to finish!!

There are 2 very good cheap books on making contemporary style baskets available from Search Press:
Susie Vaughan-Handmade Baskets
Lois Walpole-Crafty Containers

Susie’s book covers hedgerow style baskets as well as willow ones. Whilst Lois’s book is more about recycled materials (some of which you wouldn’t think of!!). There are a great many more books out there covering every aspect of basketry & other woven items (buildings, coracles, traps etc…) as well as the history of basketry & the cultivation of any given material.

For those who are interested there are also many regional groups you can join as well as our national organisation (The Basketmakers Association-www.basketassoc.org).

Happy weaving…….

Alan Sage

22 December, 2007

Hi Tracy, I’m ever so slightly envious of you now ;)

I’ve always wanted to learn that but so far there has never been a good time. Guess I have to wait until the children get older – I’ve hear rumours that More Time will occur when we get there :-) Anyway, thanks for a terrific post!


3 December, 2007

Hi Rob

It may have been Alan Sage that you saw – he was at the woodfair and he makes amazing baskets!
Your willow sounds fantastic – will you be making your own baskets or selling the willow?

Salome – its time to put down the emulsion and make something! It’s fun!


Tracy Pepler

3 December, 2007

i’ll bet that there was a real sense of achievement when you held that finished article tracy. much admiration from me … the limit of my creativity is putting emulsion on the ceiling.


2 December, 2007

I saw an underwoodsman at the Weald Woodfair making willow baskets like these.I was inspired to create an area in our woods to grow willow for weaving.I’m putting in an amazing hybrid that produces up to 14′ wands,yes thats 14′ wands each year.Should keep me busy.

Rob D

2 December, 2007


Deviant Green

1 December, 2007

Thanks for the comments guys, I would suggest you go on one of the training days, as it makes more sense when you see it being done!
Ms Boots – Alan had an excellent book on weaving with all different kinds of things – I will ask him to comment here and recommend it!

Tracy Pepler

1 December, 2007

It’s wonderful to see this ancient craft being used to create objects of beauty and practicality. Long may such things continue to enhance our world.

Johnny R

30 November, 2007

I love your basket – baskets are supposed to be rustic so it looks perfect to me.

There’s something magical about working with natural materials. Keep up the magic. A x


30 November, 2007

I really enjoyed reading about your basket weaving Tracy, thank you. If that was your first attempt at basket weaving then I think you did really well. This article has inspired me to have a go myself too. I have a large collection of scrap fabric that I was wonder how to recycle so I think I will give weaving a go. Many thanks for the inspiration.

Ms Boots

30 November, 2007