Many many moons ago I attended a willow basket making course in the village, organised by the brilliant Learning Department of our local Leisure Centre. I really enjoyed it, but was surprised at how physically demanding it is on your fingers, arms and shoulders. Anyway, it was quite thrilling to take a bundle of sticks and make something useful out of it.
The final article also looked beautiful, thanks to the attention of Tim quickly noticing when I was going wrong and fixing it! The colours and textures of the willow are just amazing.
A frenzy started, I was making small baskets, bird feeders, Christmas tree decorations and dragonflies. This was quite a feat when I lived in a caravan and was using 4 and 5 foot lengths of willow! Some I sold at the local Christmas Market, others didn’t quite make the cut.
The following year a free weave hen sculpture I had made to enter into the Assynt Games craft competition won a prize! When it was raffled off at the end of the day, the winning ticket holder seemed quite bemused by it. Safe to say I have seen winners of a raffle much happier about their prize…
Fast forward a couple of years and a willow weaving drought, another willow course with Tim popped up, this time using green (fresh) willow. I attended again.
Years passed again without a sniff of a weave until through the jungle drums I heard that a Highland Basketmakers group was starting once a month in Inverness. This was to bring together weavers from all over the Highlands to share experiences and learn from each other. This was the push I needed. An intrepid little group of us decided we would go. But first we needed to have a practise.
We got together in Carols’ barn and spent a day trying to remember how to start a basket, rummaging through the various leaflets and books we had acquired over the years. Homework had also included watching the glorious Youtube and slowly but surely those rusty cogs in our brains started turning and our baskets started to take shape. Maybe not the shape we intended, but a shape.
For years I have wanted to make a log basket and finally I have done it! It took me almost 3 days to make it…Its not perfectly formed, plenty of mistakes, but it works. In this online world of only showing perfection, I have decided to celebrate the imperfections of learning and be happy that I am spending time with friends, helping each other when we forget what we’re doing (even though we’ve just being doing that exact thing for the last half hour) and honing a new skill.
I have also started some smaller projects making bird feeders to sell and am planning to expand my range.
Hopefully this will be the beginnings of an Assynt Willow Group. Watch this space!