When tutor Andy asked what type of basket we’d like to make, I can’t say I’d given it much thought before I started the willow weaving course. A last minute booking for a workshop in Highway Farm B&B in Bridport meant I had just turned up in my cotton shirt; and clearly an empty head. Thankfully owner Pauline took pity on me and lent me a fleece.

I racked my sleepy brain for inspiration and a little light came on when I saw a beautiful platter Andy had made. A woman in period costume was picking flowers and putting them softly in a lovely flat basket. The romantic image from a period film seen years ago came flashing back. I knew what I wanted to do.

It quickly transpired that everybody else was doing a properly woven basket and I wasn’t. Virgo Vicki was making a waste paper basket (as a Virgo would), Experienced Ellie was weaving a blackberry beauty, Friendly Florence was longing for a log carrier, Mum Mel was going to fashion hearts for her daughter’s wedding and Chatty Charlie kept changing her mind.

They started weaving a round base in a circular ‘under-and-over’ then added a dozen stiff spokes at regular intervals for the sides. Friendly Florence put the contraption on her head and took a model pose. She wouldn’t have been out of place at Bridport’s Hat Festival. She may have found it a bit inconvenient to circulate around the market with 2 metres long twigs around her head but it was a good giggle around the barn.

Who would have thought basket weaving could be dangerous though? There I was concentrating on my over-under-over-under-ouch-oops, sorry! I had poked Chatty Charlie in the eye. Thankfully, she was able to finish her basket, the only one with a prison-window-with-bars type handles under the rim; rather than the large over the rim number that you rest on your arm; or the two small handles for heavy loads. Once you start looking into willow baskets, you wouldn’t believe the possible permutations.

And once we started weaving our willow baskets, there was no stopping us either. Except I was getting hungry. Pauline had told us to come and have lunch around one-ish and we were getting closer to two-ish. The soup and homemade bread went down a treat among chatter and laughs. Big house down the road being sold, content and all, Hat Festival update, Andy’s moving malarchy and Pauline’s new blog stories. Pauline, if you read this, you did promise a recipe for your pudding…

As for my fancy flower friend (I refuse to call it a trug, ugly name), I am over the moon with the result. I took home a basket like I’ve never seen before and have been looking at twigs from my hedge trimming this weekend in a new light: under-over-under-over.

What shall I make next? Well… since you ask. Pauline does a weekend workshop for hazel garden furniture. I’m on the waiting list hoping someone will change their mind.

Update: Experienced Ellie made a horse’s head the next day, have a look here.

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