Archive for the ‘Basketry’ Category

“The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread.”

-Steven Wright

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not an avid cook. I like to cook. And…I like to bake stuff. It’s just that I have a few other things that I like to do more. I’m sure there are those among you who understand this conundrum. However, I’ve recently decided that I want to bake bread. Lots of bread. All kinds of bread. Okay, that’s not quite true. I want to bake all kinds of yeast bread.  It’s my Mom’s fault. She’s been baking bread & we got to help eat it when we went to see her. I mean, seriously, who can resist homemade bread?

So now I have three new bread pans & have been sorting through all sorts of bread recipes. Along the way, I’m seeing recipes for all kinds of grain breads, french breads, bread sticks, pizza dough….you name it.

Today it was Honey Wheat Bread. Although the recipe I used was called “Simple Whole Wheat Bread.” I found it on www.allrecipes.com.  I chose it because it has 5 stars with 733 reviews. Seems like a winner, huh? But since it is made with honey, I changed its name. One thing I noticed was the the photo on that site shows the bread with something on the top…like oats? Or wheat germ? Or something. And there’s nothing in the recipe that mentions putting anything on top. The next time I make it, I’m going to put something up there…. I tried dusting two of my loaves with wheat flour, but they did little to add top texture.

Honey Wheat Bread


  • 3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast (If you’re measuring bulk yeast, that’s 4.5 Tsps.)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

  1. In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.
  2. Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky – just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.
  3. Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely.

I know why this recipe had so many good reviews. I’ll be giving one myself. It’s delicious! I took one of the loaves to some neighbors. It will be great for toast and sandwiches. I’m also anxious to try it with all wheat flour. This is an easy recipe. Give it a try, but do follow the directions to the letter regarding water temperature, etc. Oh, and I used my Kitchenaid mixer with the bread hook to do the mixing – when the dough wanted to crawl out of the bowl, I turned it onto the floured board to finish kneading and prepare it for the bowl to rise.

One note: The bread is nestled in one of my recent baskets. It’s a Twin-Bottomed Egg Basket with a four point God’s Eye lashing.

And all photography was done with my beloved Nikon D300 & Nikkor 85mm 1.4D lens.

Bon Appétit!


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I returned to Oklahoma Basket Supply yesterday and came home with a LOT of new supplies. I should insert here that I didn’t actually make sure that I had what I needed for any specific pattern. Ahem.

So today, I made my first Market Basket.

The market basket is quite a different animal than a rib basket. What with all that upsetting and clipping and sore fingers. However, I persevered and I’m quite pleased with the result. Now don’t get me wrong here…..there are definitely mistakes in it. I know there are. And I could easily point them out. But I won’t. That would just take all the fun out of it.

So I used a pattern….sort of.  As mentioned previously,  I didn’t have all the right sizes of reed, so I did what they do in football. I punted. I used what I had. Therein lies some of the reasons for the previously mentioned mistakes. But I digress. Because the thing I like about basket weaving is that it’s so easy to be creative and throw in your own curve balls here and there…just to keep things interesting. Besides, who wants to just copy someone else’s work?  It’s all about being creative. Right? Right. And punting too… it’s about punting.

So here we have it: My first Market Basket.

And here’s how it came about:

  1. Beautiful rolls of Natural and Smoked Reed
  2. After all the pieces are cut to size and soaked, the reeds are laid out.
  3. The weaving begins.
  4. Upsetting the reeds so weaving the sides can begin.
  5. The closeup of the handle is thrown in just because I liked the shallow depth of field on the shot. A piece of smoked reed was glued to the handle before the weaving was started.
  6. Smaller natural reed was used to form a pattern. (This varied a lot from the directions I had.)
  7. After the pattern was complete, more rows of smoked reed were added.
  8. Lashing was added to the top in forming the rim. It’s harder than it looks because it’s holding two strong pieces of thicker reed in place to form the top edge of the basket.

And there you have it. I’ll be happy to answer any questions….if I can.

Once again, I must add that the photos were taken with my Nikon D300 and the fantastic Nikkor 85mm 1.4D lens. It offers up the most amazing bokeh to any photo. I said it.

And if you’re looking for a portrait lens….it can’t be beat. You’ll find it gives you gorgeous, natural colors.

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This basket weaver was more than a trifle unhappy with the previously posted flat-bottom basket.

There were many mistakes in it that I simply could not stand.

Therefore, last night, I took the scissors to the basket and whacked out  all the reeds – leaving nothing but the two hoops. Boy did that ever feel good! :-)

I started again and made every attempt to follow the directions to the letter. In spite of that, I still could not get all ten ribs (per side) worked into the basket. I had four..FOUR sets left over. Never-the-less, I’m much happier with this effort than the first.

At least now, I can concentrate on a new one. I won’t be whacking this one apart….It can stay.  ;-)

I stained it with a mixture of instant coffee & tea. Marcia Balleweg, owner of Oklahoma Basket Supply, shared her recipe for this stain:

  • 3/4c. Hot Water
  • 4 tbs. Instant coffee
  • 3 tbs. Instant tea

According to her directions: “Mix together and heat until all coffee and tea granules are dissolved. Put mixture into a spray bottle and spray your dried basket. Add water to spray bottle if you like a lighter color. I usually lightly spray the first coat and let it dry. It will dry lighter in color. You can spray again and let dry if you want your basket to be darker.”

I followed her directions for mixing. I took the basket outside to the patio and sat it in a large box & sprayed. I left it out in the breeze & sun to dry. I’m very happy with the color now, but we’ll see how it looks tomorrow when it’s completely dry. I really like the thought of  using a natural, non-toxic stain. Wait,  are coffee and tea “natural?”  Yeah, I think they are.

Now, I need more reeds! I want some big ones this time. :-)


Again, I must add that the above photo was shot with my beloved Nikkor 85mm 1.4D. The bokeh it delivers is beyond delicious. :-)

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I have learned two things about basket weaving in the last five/six hours. You must do one or the other.

  • Follow the basket weaving directions to the letter.
  • OR abandon the basket weaving directions completely.

Here’s where I apologize to Lyn Siler. Lyn is the author of the book I used today. Lyn’s Flat-Bottom Egg Basket is beautiful.

MY Flat-Bottom Egg Basket is ….. is…… well, I think you could put eggs in it. :-D

One of the first and important steps was to assemble two hoops – one would provide the handle & the other would provide the top rim of the basket. It was important that the handle hoop be on the outside when they were fastened together. To assure this, we were to put our initials on the inside bottom of the vertical (handle) hoop. I did that. The reason is so the handle hoop will not be able to move. It was after I became so engrossed in weaving the “ears” on the sides of the handle, that I forgot about the “initials.” Oopsie. ;-) And after the ears were woven & the basket weaving started, I saw the initials on the side of the horizontal hoop. ;-) I left it that way. Sorry, Lyn. I promise to do it right next time.  Here’s what it looked like at that stage.

The thing about a ribbed basket is that you are supposed to add ribs as you weave. I found this to be more difficult that I thought it would be.  In fact. I had a few ribs that I trimmed. And a few ribs that I stuck in at random…and a few ribs left over. Sorry Lyn. I’m determined to do it right the next time.

It was at this point that I completely abandoned the instructions. Obviously this is not recommended.  When I finished the weaving of the basket, I was tempted to leave off any trim that was to be around the top of the basket. However, having nothing to lose at this point and all to gain, I added the trim. I’m rather pleased with the trim.

Tomorrow I will stain the basket with a coffee/tea concoction, as I like the richness those colors that add. Plus maybe all the mistakes won’t be so noticeable.


Post Script: I need to add  that these photos were shot with my beloved Nikkor 85mm 1.4. I dearly love how fast that little lens is in low light & also the delicious bokeh (shallow depth of field = blurry background.) OH, and the top banner shot was done with it as well.

Update: FYI, this basket was chopped to shreds last night…and re-woven. You may see the new one here.

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Who doesn’t love baskets?!

We all do. I bet you have at least ONE basket in your house. I have several. I’ve had them over the years that have served both utilitarian and decorative purposes.

I recently saw a beautiful basket in a gallery that had an antler handle. As I looked at it…I was like, “yeah…I can do that.” I hope I can at least come close.

So before I even had books or supplies, I was collecting drift wood and antlers for handles. I really like the thought of incorporating natural materials into the designs.

So off I went to the local Hobby Lobby to pick up some basket making supplies. I walked all over that huge store – through aisle after aisle of household decoratives. Alas, no basket making supplies. Apparently Hobby Lobby needs to change its name. Not only my local store, but four others in the state had no basket making supplies. Nor did a hobby store called Michaels. Interesting. Sad.

With no other recourse, I went to the internet. I first ordered a book written by Lyn Siler entitled, “ The Basket Book: Over 30 Magnificent Baskets To Make and Enjoy.” After a bit of searching, I found Oklahoma Basket Supply. And fortunately for me, it was a mere 80 miles from where I live. I made my way there yesterday. Marcia Balleweg is the owner of Oklahoma Basket Supply. She has been weaving for 17 years and has been teaching for 12 years.  It was so nice to meet her and see her gorgeous baskets. She’s won awards for them at Fiberworks and at the Oklahoma State Fair.  Marcia was very kind and helpful in setting me up with some supplies for my first efforts in basket making – plus a couple fantastic books! Thank you, Marcia!  I’m eager to pour over my new books & get started on this adventure.

Are you a basket maker? Do you have a site or blog?  If you are, I’d love to hear from you. Just point me to it.

Basket Weaving 101: My daughter tells me, “You know, that’s the oldest joke of all time, right?” I said, ‘YES! And I’d love to take that class.”

Stay tuned for followups. I’ll be posting photos of the process as it happens.

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