Monday, 23 September 2013

A haaaaandbag?!

Posing outside Debbie's enviable studio
I've made a lot of baskets over the years, big ones, small ones, all shapes and sizes. Mostly they have been in rattan (cane), some have been coloured with natural dyes, others with terrifyingly lurid chemical concoctions, but none of them come close to the glorious colours of good old English willow. I don't have space to grow my own (to my husband's everlasting relief) so rely on local growers to supply obscure varieties, and on the internet for the rest. 

Base before trimming

One of the people who sells the loveliest varieties is Debbie Hall, of Salix Arts, which is about a 20 minute drive from me. She is also a very talented artist and a wonderful teacher, so when I saw her offering a day course to make her new handbag basket design, I leaped at the chance. A few weekends back, on a very sunny Saturday a group of us gathered and worked together to produce a variety of interpretations of her design.

This oval shaped basket is a bit more complicated to set up than a round basket but actually ended up producing wonderful results, possibly because we were all expecting it to be tricky and thus concentrated extra hard on each stage.

Looking more like a basket now
One of the best parts of weaving for me is how using different colours and different weaves produces very different baskets. Mine is clearly related to Debbie's original and to the others produced on the day, but it isn't the same shape or size as any of them. And initially that bothered me, and I felt a little disappointed with myself - but now I have used it more I realise that while it's too big to be a handbag, it is an incredibly useful shopper/picnic basket. And I love the fact that the while the handle on the original is firmly fixed in place, my handle swings jauntily. 

Just the right size!
I will make this style again, and I'll definitely use a branch handle again, but I think I can guarantee it won't look exactly like this first one - and that's just fine with me!

I must admit, I cook in much the same way - but what about you? Do you like to put your own stamp on projects? Or do you only feel you've succeeded if you reproduce an item exactly according to the instructions? I'd love to hear!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Hiding behind the sofa

It has been a busy old summer, full of holiday excitement (the girls' first time on  a plane!), outdoor theatre, days out, gardening, meeting up with friends and, and, and ...

Excitement reaching fever pitch just before the first rider!
Now we're back to school, and for Tall Small, it's secondary school. Which means she isn't actually Small any more so what am I going to call her now? Miss Terribly Grownup All Of A Sudden? I shall think of something.

That's an Olympic fence, that is!
Anyway. Most of what I'm doing at the moment is sorting out the house. I have stacked logs and ordered oil ready for the inevitable chills to come, and am trying all sorts of new calendar techniques to keep on top of what everyone is supposed to be doing. None of this is blogworthy; but we did have a brilliant day out to the Burghley Horse Trials where we gasped and covered our eyes - you know that childhood habit of watching Dr. Who from behind a cushion? If I could have, I would have.

Cottesmore Leap. Never gets any smaller.
We walked for miles, and feasted on toffee vodka and potatoes roasted in duckfat.

And realised that weaving gets everywhere - this was next to one of the fences and how on earth the horses didn't freak out completely, I have no idea. I could have it in my garden though, if I could bend low enough to get through the door!