1. Irish Pairing

What I like to refer to as “Irish pairing” is actually just one part of what I teach here. The other part is French Randing. Together, these two make up the net-like structure of this weave. It is a very efficient technique. It uses very little material, it’s very lightweight, and it’s a surprisingly strong and secure weave. It’s very suitable for large carrying baskets and fish traps, but can also be used for aesthetic reasons, as it’s a very beautiful-looking weave.


I don’t recommend learning it if you don’t have a great deal of experience with French randing and regular pairing, along with a good mastery of the shaping process.



Technique Principles


The Irish pairing itself is a weave that, like French randing, uses the same number of weavers as stakes. Unlike French randing though, and as the name suggests, this isn’t randing at all, but a type of pairing. Instead of progressing towards the left, which puts each new weaver on top of the previous ones, the weave progresses towards the right. This means that each weaver is climbing above its neighbor on the right, but then its neighbor that used to be on the right is now on the left and climbing above it. This is essentially pairing, only with multiple weavers instead of just two. After a full row of this pairing is complete, a row of French randing is woven, but the weavers are left to hang diagonally in “mid-air”. After a full row of that is complete, we, once again, weave one row of Irish pairing, and so on.


Weaving perfectly straight rows in “mid-air” is quite tricky, so it’s a good idea to use a ruler and mark the height of the rows upon the stakes before you begin weaving them. To make the process faster, maybe mark every second stake instead of marking all of them. Don’t be afraid to use a marker, as the markings will later be covered by the weave.



How to Insert the weavers


Before you begin, make sure that your weavers aren’t cracked or anything like that because you can’t really replace a broken weaver in this technique. Now, to start, insert one weaver as you normally would in French randing. Insert the next weaver one stake to the right, and underneath the first one. Continue like that, but notice that from now on you need to insert underneath the two previous weavers. When you get to the last two weavers, you have two options: The first is to insert them regularly and thread their entire length into position. The second option (which is the one I demonstrate in the video) is to insert the weavers where they need to exit, and weave their butt-end “in reverse” into its starting point.



How to finish a row


The last two weavers in a row should be threaded gently into position, exiting underneath everything. As you are threading, pay close attention to the height and the straightness of the woven row, as it tends to come out misshapen. Also, try to avoid creating a kink.



How to finish the whole section


This is something that I haven’t mentioned in the video, but I reckon it’s quite intuitive, so I’m not too worried about it. In this basket, I’ve finished by weaving two regular rows of French randing after the last pairing row. It is a neat, elegant finish, as seen in the thumbnail picture above. Another option that I can think of is to weave one row of French randing and then another row of Irish pairing, trimming the ends on the outside. I’m sure other ideas can work just as well.


It’s best to finish off the section before you get to the really thin part of the weavers. That part will not be able to hold itself firmly in position.



Variations


Just as we are weaving rows of Irish pairing, we can weave rows of “Irish waling”. It works just the same, except in this case, we will go in front of two stakes instead of one, and we will have one more weaver to thread at the end of each round. One problem with Irish waling though, is that it uses up more material, thus lowering the height of the section. Another problem with it is that it has a poorer grip over the stakes, which can result in the woven rows sliding up and down. It might be a good way to begin the weave, as it makes it easier to handle the thick butt ends. But, personally, I wouldn’t use it after that first row.


Another possible variation is to weave the French randing parts in front of two stakes instead of one. But, once again, it’s a variation that “eats up” more material, which lowers the height of the section.



Thanks for watching.

I hope this tutorial is clear enough.

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Asaf Salim