“It’s All About Me” Monday: The Basket


I’ve always had an “I can do that” attitude about making things (as contrasted with my “I could never do that” attitude about sports!) I just go into a new craft with confidence and sometimes things work out well and sometimes they don’t.

Even when things work out fine, though, I have been known to drop the craft abruptly after just a short dalliance. Some pastimes stick like Velcro, others fall away.

Basket making just fell away. My mom and I got all het up about it one summer a number of years ago; as I recall, my husband was right in there, messing around with it, too.

We made a few baskets, piled up a lot of supplies and books and tools, and then never touched any of them again!

Here’s the lowdown:

Basket making is messy. You have to keep the materials wet so they are pliable and that means you’re always wet, too. I remember working on this basket, out on the lawn by the lake, and freezing, even on a warm day, because I was so wet and there was a breeze.

Basket making is hard on the hands. There is a great deal of tugging and pulling and wrestling the materials into submission. Even then I felt it in my hands and I suspect now, with twinges of arthritis, I’d really be aware of the toll it was taking. And that doesn’t even take the splinters into account!

Basket making is a summer-only activity, at least where I live! No way could I imagine dealing with the mess and the wet and the achy hands during a long winter in upstate New York.

So, that was that for basket making.

We have kept the baskets around that we made. Of them, this is my favorite and definitely the best one I made. I like the wrapped handle and the twill design running around one side.

It’s a good size to carry sewing supplies out to the lawn by the lake, where I can stay warm and stitch with dry, splinter-free hands!

So, enough about me! Let’s talk about you. How do you like my basket? Is there a craft you tried and were pretty good at, but just didn’t enjoy?



74 thoughts on ““It’s All About Me” Monday: The Basket

  1. Funny, I was that way about weaving. I even owned a floor loom, which sat there shaming me after I had produced several rag rugs. I was so glad to sell that thing. If I ever return to that craft it will be tapestry weaving for me – much smaller, lots of change ups.

    • It is funny, isn’t it, how we like different things and make different choices. Tapestry weaving would make sense for you, given what I have learned about your creative impulses and interests in art quilting. I am so much more “old school” . . . .

  2. I love your basket!! Hmmmm…. I seem to have a knitting machine that is now boxed and stashed away with other lost interest projects. I find the knitting machine cold and way to noisy for a evening project. I’ll just take my small slow hooks and recline in my chair to enjoy the yarn flowing though my fingers.

    • I have always wondered about knitting machines and what the appeal is! It seems that all that is good and soothing about knitting would be lost when using a machine.

  3. I love those baskets! Something I tried years ago and even got rather good at, making my then toddler son a shaggy-bear sort of winter coat, was crochet. Perhaps I shoud get back to it. Following my triumph, I just sort of – dunno – forgot about it.

    • I wonder how many people do that–make one really nice piece and then leave the craft on that high note. With the basket making, I kind of said, “okay, I’ve proven I can do that. But I don’t enjoy it . . . move on.” It might be fun to go back to crocheting now–it’s having a sort of renaissance and there would be all sorts of inspiration available!

  4. Yes indeed, I do like your basket! But I can understand why basket-making does not call to you. I have not tried a lot of crafts. I do have a supply of acrylic paints left from when I found I have no talent at painting. And I have a half-finished counted cross-stitch project, left from most of 30 years ago. Just not very interesting to me, I guess. It is very easy to try and abandon variations just within quilting, so I think I’ll stay there.

  5. Your baskets looks nice and neat and strong. I like them very much. I thought I would like to draw. I bought some pencils and took a class but for some reason it didn’t stick with me.

    • I’m drawn to drawing as well (awkward sentence!) but I never seem to stick with it. I think I like practical crafts best and I never know what to do with drawings once they’re done.

      • Yes, I think I am practical too. That’s one reason I like knitting so much. I can make things that are useful.

  6. Love the basket. I have encaustic supplies, not touched in 15 years. Mosaic supplies, flower arranging materials, rubber stamping, paper making, and an ice cream maker! All not used for ages! Hanging my head in shame!

  7. Love your baskets but have never been drawn to make one. Paper making is something that I tried but also a wet summer project that takes way too much room as you wait for the paper to dry. I’ve tried many, many things. That’s the fun of life. 🙂 Cold hands hurt. At least you gave it a go.

  8. I can’t knit, as much as I would like to. When I’m happy my tension is loose, sad or upset and it’s tight. Oddly I can stitch “in hand” for any type of needlework and it’s perfectly even, no blocking needed…

  9. I love your basket! I ‘did’ willow weaving years ago and made several items, but like you found it too messy and demanding and gave it away. I love baskets and basket ware though and am happy to buy as required 🙂

    • Yes, I love baskets, too! Writing my post got me thinking about other baskets I’ve bought. I have lovely ones I got in Ireland and some sweetgrass baskets I got in South Carolina. My one limited experience in basketmaking did have the effect of making me appreciate others work more!

  10. Beautiful baskets. I used to collect vintage glass beads to string into wonderful necklaces. Perhaps I’ll give it a go again one of these days.

  11. Ditto – my mother and I did the same thing! How funny! We lasted a few years; perhaps Summers in PA are hotter than in NY. Our basket teacher lived by a pond and she soaked her trees in the pond and then made the reeds. Everything in her house was basket-woven, including two chairs and a very amazing coffee table. She was a hoot and perhaps that’s why we lasted longer than you did. Peter was always “afraid” of all my reeds – you can never keep them contained. I was always afraid that a cat was going to lose an eye in that part of my craft area. Funny memories! Thank you Kerry. ;-D

    • I think having a good teacher would make a huge difference! We just learned from books and had no one to get feedback from–plus it was before the internet! And I agree that the materials were annoying to keep around–they had a way of taking over every space!

    • Yes, there are too many crafts that are pleasant and warm and soft to stick with one that hurt! I am glad that there are expert basket makers in the world–I just don’t want to be one!

  12. I love your basket! I like basketwork very much but have never been tempted to try to do any. I have rheumatoid arthritis so I don’t expect I could manage it even if I wanted to! I have tried and enjoyed lots of crafts but don’t do any of them any more. I would like to think that one day I’ll have the time to do some more crochet/knitting/embroidery/papercraft etc

  13. Your journey into the basket-making sounds like mine (and some of my friends). We gathered and made heart-shaped, Easter, market, egg, handled (and not) baskets……and then…..we didn’t. BUT we can say……..We did that!!!! LOL!

    • “And then . . . we didn’t”–I love that! It applies, truth be told, to a lot of my crafting. But what’s the old saying? “It’s better to have tried and quit than never to have tried at all”? Something like that . . . .

      • Wow! I couldn’t agree more! The results of all this trying has left a ‘trail’ of supplies that (only recently) I’ve challenged myself to let go of—face the reality that I’m really not going back to it and that’s ok! LOL!

  14. Clearly you are skilled at whatever you set your hands too, but I echo the chorus here: too wet, too sharp and too messy long term. I love baskets though and I love the idea of weaving. Your basket is gorgeous!

    I guess I’m not terribly adventurous when it comes to making things. I’ve stuck with the tried and true of sewing, occasional knitting, paper crafts and dressing up pumpkins in the fall.

    • I think it’s kind of interesting that I made my way back to the best part of basket making–the weaving. But now I get to stay dry and use soft materials! I’ve always wanted to try every craft that came down the pike . . . jill of all trades, I’m afraid.

      • Jill of all trades is fabulous. You’re open to new and interesting experiences. I think that’s terrific.

        It is interesting that as you say, weaving is all the wonderful parts of basket-making. You also make a practical product as well: towels, throws, wraps, etc.

  15. I did a few baskets. Then my friend the accountant with not an artist’s bone in her body asked me to teach her how — and her first basket was perfect and regular and sturdy, way better than any of mine! Also, I am not a big fan of working with wet hands, like many of the other commenters. (Same with ceramics — I tried a few classes but couldn’t take the wet mud drying and cracking on my hands.) So now I appreciate baskets and can recognize the beautiful quality of yours, but I don’t know if I will make more.
    I have caned 6 chairs though, and that is a project worth having wet hands for — the chairs are so much more useful with bottoms!

    • Oh, I’d like to try chair caning–that sounds much more appealing and related to weaving, too. I agree about ceramics–been there and tried it but I hated the stuff caking under my nails. Plus it seemed like everyone was doing it at that time and I didn’t want to be one of the crowd!

  16. Gorgeous basket! I have picked up and put down loads of different crafts over the years: silk painting; jewellery making; card making to name but a few. I seem always to come back to knitting and crochet as my favourite things to do, but like candy or christmas tree lights, there is always something else to catch my eye – I am also currently dabbling in painting, drawing and calligraphy! 🙂

    • I get seduced by the new trends, too. I went through a polymer clay stage a few years back and now I wonder why. And I loved calligraphy–maybe I’ll do a post about that one day. My advice is to do it now before your hands get older and creaky!

  17. Kerry your basket is beautiful. You gave it a try and moved on and now have a deep appreciation for all things woven. Personally I hang my head in craft shame, my list is long, really long. Sometimes I think its a journey and other times I think I wasted a lot of money…sigh. No wet hands, thank you.

    • I have those same ambivalent feelings about all the craft routes I’ve traveled. As you say, every side trip has given me an appreciation for well-made crafts but I do sort of wish I’d focused and because a real expert in something.

  18. Hmmm…us crafty people like to do crafty things. You can’t make them all into lifelong passions but the exposure does give you a different appreciation. For me, glass blowing was one I learned to appreciate but won’t do again. It’s dangerous, requires a massive investment in materials and you are working ‘in the air’ ie your hands are not anchored like they are when you do wheel throwing in pottery. That makes it super hard to do.

    • We live pretty close to the workshop of Simon Pearce, an American glassblower, and you can go and watch the process. It’s totally fascinating but I’ve never even considered trying it. I know it’s irrational but I always think that, if I inhaled at the wrong moment, my lungs would be coated in glass! I’m very impressed that you tried it!

  19. Your basket is most beautiful, Kerry 🙂 I love that you know you can do these sorts of things. Definitely not my forte. Last Friday my youngest had a badge ceremony for Girl Scouts and I had yet to put on one single patch from this past year. So of course I’m figuring out I need to do something 11th hour and we don’t have much thread and there’s no way I can get those d@mn patches on in time anyway. Ironing didn’t work. So I ended up in tears – ha. Fortunately we had a bottle of Liquid Stitch from a much earlier project (I did make kitchen window curtains from dish towels once – handy, yes?) though it was plugged, so we cut it open and smeared that stuff on the back of the badges/patches and stuck ’em on. One of the numbers did fall off at the meeting and turns out I was supposed to put the bigger patches on the back (who knew?), but we mostly got the job done. That’s a perfect example of why I don’t do the lovely work that you do. I will stick to the kitchen where there is less chance of disaster and live my vicarious artisan craft project side through you 😀

    • That’s a great story–I’m sure it’s destined to become family folklore! It’s nice that we all can find our own comfort zones, whether it’s the kitchen or the craft studio!

  20. I took a basket making course at the local Mennonite center. I actually enjoyed it, but never took the plunge to getting my own supplies. It’s one of those crafts I’m glad I’ve tried but it didn’t hook me like others have.

  21. When I was a toddler, my mother made baskets, too. In my late teens I thought I’d give it a try but my mother said it was too tedious now for her to show me, and maybe that was a good thing because I, too, pick up crafts/languages etc and then just drop them and never get back to picking them up again.

    • I’m glad I tried it but I sort of agree with your mother–there were tedious aspects, for sure. I guess that’s true with all crafts . . . but I can handle some kinds of tedium more than others!

  22. The baskets are lovely. This post reminds me that I’ve always wanted to try caning chairs which I picture involves a somewhat similar process to making baskets – soaking the cane and lots of pulling and tugging. Who knows if I ever will actually get around to doing it.

    • I’ve never done any caning but I would think that, yes, wetness and pulling and tugging would have to be part of the deal. Makes my poor hands hurt just to think about it!

  23. My grandfather and my great uncle made baskets out in the shed cum garage. I remember watching them weave and watching the soaking process. They didn’t complain about the cold but it was very cold in the shed sometimes, as far as I was concerned. My great uncle made me a gorgeous little shopping basket (which I still have). Recently, I was given one of his picnic baskets. It’s most likely 50 or 60 years old. I am loving it and have been on so many picnics this autumn because of the encouragement of that basket. I love your baskets. I love my baskets. But I won’t be making any.

  24. I’ve got a basket that I made years ago … I never finished the handle, sadly, but the basket still serves. Yours, however, serves AND is pretty!

  25. The basket it so cute and it looks really neat and professional! I’d probably add some ribbon to make it extra twee. It sounds like an annoying craft though, not exactly a cozy sitting-under-a-blanket-by-the-fire kind of activity. I’ve actually tried knitting a couple of times, and it was fine but I just perfer crochet. Knitting takes so long in comparison, and having two needles instead of one is such a faff!

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