4. French Randing
French randing is a highly efficient technique that covers a lot of space quickly, with minimal use of material. Most of the siding of a willow basket will usually be woven in this technique. It is a brilliant development of the plain randing weave, which uses multiple weavers at once, to give a clean and uniform look, while, at the same time, eliminates the need for joins.
Preparing weavers for French randing
A classic French randing section requires the same number of weavers as stakes. Since, in this case, we are weaving a 24-stake basket, 24 weavers are needed for each of our French randing sections.
The length of the weavers, in this case, should be around 3 feet. The longer the weavers are, the higher the section is going to be. But, the longer the weavers are - the thicker they are, and we must always make sure that our weavers are thinner than the uprights. See my tutorials on how to choose the right willow for a basket, to better understand this topic.
Marking the starting point
Since French randing may be somewhat confusing for beginners, it’s a good idea to mark the first pair of weavers, formed after the first weaving move (just for your first one or two baskets). This will help you from getting lost at the end of each weaving round. I use a clothespin to mark the beginning, but any other method will do.
Alternative working options
As a beginner basket maker, you probably don’t have a lapboard to work on. That’s fine. No need to worry. You can simply work on your knees, and position the basket diagonally. This works especially well when the weavers are quite short. The longer the weavers are - the trickier it gets to work on your knees. It is also possible to work on a table, but I find that it only works well in case the sides of the basket are woven straight up at a 90° angle. If it isn't the case, or, if you find it hard to weave anyway, try to improvise some way of positioning your basket diagonally.
Rapping the Weave
Rapping is a crucial part of making a willow basket. Without it, the weave can become loose, which translates into a weaker, less good-looking basket. Even if the weave appears tight, it’s important to fasten it, as it may become loose when the willow dries and shrinks. This applies, not just for French randing of course, but for all techniques.
Trimming the butt ends on the inside of the basket might be a bit hard sometimes. Because of this, I like to leave a nice bit off the butt ends facing towards the inside. It makes it a lot easier to grab and pull with your left-hand thumb while you cut off the butts with your right hand. The trimming can be done after each randing section, or after weaving the whole basket. In some cases, I would pre-cut the butt ends neatly, and insert them in such a way that they will not need to be trimmed at all. Though, at this point, I don’t recommend you to do this.
This tutorial offers a very basic view of this technique. So, once you’ve made a few baskets, and, hopefully, gotten used to it, be sure to watch the “Basic French Randing” tutorial on my Weaving Techniques course. It is a more profound and comprehensive tutorial, that also covers some variations of this weave.