I started learning traditional frame basketry techniques using willow for the first time this week! The tutor is Lin Lovekin, a basket maker based here in Cornwall http://www.linlovekinbaskets.co.uk/
The first task was to create two hoops from 8 foot long brown willow ( dried ) which would determine the size of my potato basket and also form the twisted handle :) I started by bending the willow around my knee and then a round wooden forma, pushing it against my tummy (I couldn't believe how much of my body I had to use!). Once I was happy with the shape I then had to whittle down around two fists worth of willow off each end with an Opinel knife. Lin made this look so easy! Once enough willow was removed, I then brought the two ends together again and wrapped them with masking tape to hold it together. The second hoop was created using two pieces of willow and twisting them together butt (thick end) to tip (thin end). This technique can also be used to make a christmas reef :D The two hoops were then masked together ready for me to make two God's eyes.
A God's eye is a type of weave which hold the two hoops together. Some green willow (freshly cut) had to be made into skeans long ribbon like pieces) using a beautiful hand made tool called a three way cleave, I can't wait to get one! This cleave tool strips the willow into three skeans. After this is done (again Lin made this look very easy!) the pith had to be removed using the Opinel knife, to make flat and smooth. They were then ready to weave a God's eye! yay! I enjoyed that bit :)
Next I used finer lengths of willow to weave the fist part of the basket (tip to butt) and then (butt to tip). Once there was enough room I had to decide on how long I wanted the new ribs to be as these would shape the basket, ready to be woven around more next time! :D