1. The Base

In this first lesson we will learn the most commonly used technique for weaving round bases, called pairing, or twining - in the US. This is a very important, rudimentary weave, often taught as the first weave by many basketry teachers. Not only is it the basis for other types and variations of pairing, it is also the basis for all types of waling, which we are going to learn next.


If you are an absolute beginner, you may find it easier to learn pairing separately, on a simple reed basket with a wooden base. That way you'll be able to focus solely on the weave itself, without having to worry about separating the base sticks and shaping the base, as you are learning a new brand-new weaving technique. Willow basket weaving is not an easy craft. It takes time to master. It requires some strength and effort. So, if you have access to centre cane, aka round reed, I definitely recommend using it to learn pairing and three-rod waling before actually starting with this willow basket. See my Introduction to Waling tutorial if you wish to do so.


If you already have some experience with willow work, but still feel the need to watch this lesson on weaving the base, I would actually recommend watching my more detailed lessons on this topic: The first is Round Base Fundamentals, in which I teach the assembly of the base sticks a bit more seriously, and with more advanced tips. The second is called Pairing Base, and in it, I teach the same base as I do here, but, once again, in a more serious, profound manner.



Preparing willow for this base


First, you need to prepare 6 base sticks of suitable thickness (usually cut off from the butt ends of your 5 or 6-foot willow rods). The length of the base sticks should be between 8 to 10 inches, or 20 -25 cm.


Next, there are the base weavers, which should be between 2-4 feet long (60-120 cm).

I also like to prepare several extra-short weavers for the very beginning of the base.

20 base weavers should be enough for the entire base.


To get a better understanding of how to choose the right willow for this basket, and how long to soak it for, see the relevant tutorials in my Beginner’s Guide.



Useful tips for weaving the base


  • If you wish, you can weave more than two rounds before you start separating the base sticks. This might make it easier to separate, especially if your starting weavers are longer than those I've used in this tutorial.


  • Shaping is something that you always pay attention to, in each and every stroke. Pay attention to the spaces, and even them out as you progress, and pay attention to the leveling of the base sticks.


  • If you find that the joins are jumping out of position and messing up your work, use a clothespin to hold the joins in place until you cover them in the next round.


  • Important: When fastening the weave with a bodkin, be careful not to use its tip, so that it doesn't slip and hurt you! Use only the middle of the bodkin, and do so with caution! (best to push away from your body).


Asaf Salim