Saturday, July 13, 2013

Week 28 of the 52s...Pine Needles

I've had a most excellent adventure for the 52s this week.  Remember last month when I posted about the Arts Festival?  I mentioned seeing the beautiful pine needle baskets and how much I would love to know how to make them. 

Well, serendipity being what it is, the next day--Monday--I got the Summer Class schedule for the local community college in the mail.  And, of all things, there was a Native American Pine Needle Basketry class being offered for July 13th, from 9 to Noon.

I signed up immediately.

This morning I got up at the crack of dawn to get the boys walked, fed and settled, then dashed off to the college which is on the opposite side of the valley and northeast of town.  I've never been that direction, so it seemed a bit complicated to first find the school, then the building. 

I left home early in case my map reading skills failed me, though as it turned out, I had no problems and arrived 20 minutes ahead of time.  What a beautiful place.  The class was in a building on the outskirts so I didn't see the whole campus, but I'm going back at some point just to look around.

This is the view from the Technology Center where my class was.  Though the valleys are filled with forest fire smoke, you can still see how cool the scenery is...

A small display of the instructor's baskets--which I will never be able to duplicate in a million years...

A selection of pine needle bundles, mostly Ponderosa and Long Needle.  Paulette (instructor) had dyed several of them, so along with the basic pine color, we were able to choose another color if we wanted.  I chose a wonderful reddish shade.

So, after talking about pines, soaking the needles, trimming and prepping, Paulette took us through the types of sinew and the needles we would need to weave everything together.  Then it was Step One: gathering a few needles, wrapping the sinew, bending and lashing to make the center of the base for the basket.  This simple step was harder than you might think...and I'm not being a wuss.

So, the first hour flies by and this is what I have to show for it:

Next we learned different weaving stitches and how to bind one row into the next...another hour and this is what I have to show for it:

There were a few hiccups along the way--I started over twice--and it was hard to grasp a few techniques at first, plus who knew those clever Native American women had such upper body strength?  But at last I found my rhythm, and all nine of us ended up spending the last 45 minutes or so just weaving away and chatting like we knew what we were doing.

We got to take our pine bundles and other bits of equipment and sinew with us at the end of the class, so with any luck at all, I will keep working on this totally amazing craft...

...though, this is all I have to show for nearly three hours of weaving:

I figure at the rate I'm going, I ought to have the base done by next month, and maybe the basket finished by, oh I don't know, next year sometime?

Still.  It was a very fun class, and I have the rudiments now, so I'm hopeful that I can retain what I learned this morning and will actually complete my very own Pine Needle Basket.

Just writing that is cool...


  1. How cool are these?
    Very creative, friend ;-)

    1. Thanks...and truly, I can't wait to finish my basket, though I doubt it will be anytime soon. ;D