When we moved home to the UK, my baskets came with us - picnic baskets (separate ones for food and wine), woven rubbish bins, a laundry basket - but the reed had to stay behind. Our new house was teeny tiny, with no room for weaving. Pretty soon we moved into our present home; first one baby arrived, then her little sister and the extra space we had gained was filled with small people and their belongings, as it should be. Baskets were forgotten.
A year or so ago I met a local basketmaker and remembered just how much I had loved my hobby. Over here willow is a very popular weaving material and while you can buy reed (it's called centre cane) it is imported and expensive. Willow seemed to be the way to go. I signed up for a class and made my first wobbly plant support. Then last autumn, Celia mentioned she had met Debbie Hall, a willow artist who runs courses and would some of us like to go along for a day? Try holding me back.
A second, far more pleasing, obelisk came home with me; and soon I had revisited Debbie to learn how to weave borders and make lanterns. One of my unfinished border practice pieces lives in our honeysuckle and looks like a sunburst, inspired by the one in Debbie's garden. Another hangs on our front door - a willow wreath, if you like. My fingers have not forgotten how to twine and rand and wale.
This week I tried a pattern for a very simple bird house. It's in Kirstie Allsops's craft book. It has issues - the buff willow I bought is rather splitty, and it has no proper base and I'm not sure any self respecting bird would look at it twice; but it has given me ideas for improvements and new designs I am itching to start. But in the meantime I have taken on a little project to do some weaving for some very small, very special dollies to raise money for Comic Relief. More of that another day - my efforts are nearly finished and when they are I'll let you know but in the meantime you could head over to visit Mac, Maisie, Blossom and Poppy's very own blog and see some of the other goodies the four cheeky friends have been given already!