Last year, I collected pine needles… I watched YouTube videos… I talked to and messaged a few friends for tips… And, nothing happened. No basket was made. Flash forward to two days ago and another wave of basket making desire welled up in my chest and I started talking about it again. I started asking questions again. …gathering needles with my (almost) 4 year old daughter.
So, yesterday I created this one.
A good start, I thought. A friend gave me suggestions on how to start the basket…the importance of tightly binding those beginning needles. I later read about the equal importance of the first few coils of stitches and making sure the pattern was tight and regular.
Today, I watched a video on how to properly change threads, and I created this basket… Oh yes, I also found a thread that I liked working with better (the first basket was waxed ramie and the second basket is with lightly waxed cotton).
This second basket felt much more familiar. The process has made its way into my muscle memory and into my sensibilities about how things are done. I am at least beginning to understand this craft…
So, I thought it would be good to share why I do handwork…
…because it stills the mind and encourages me to focus.
It shows me where I am still constricted in terms of the flow of creative energy and this self-awareness helps me in many other areas of my life.
With new projects like this, it shows me how I handle the beginner’s mind (fear? doubt? etc).
The materials connect me to the land, to stories, to place, and to those who crafted and still craft this way.
The process connects me with myself.
I’m sure it is creating fascinating patterning in my brain in terms of neural pathways.
I have to steadily work toward a sense of reward rather than getting it immediately.
I like showing my daughter that she can transform these overlooked things into precious little wonders with the right tools, technique, and time.
And, finally…because handmade things make my heart feel good and the world feel right.
My plant dye teacher posted this quote today on Facebook. I thought I’d share it here… The quote is about sewing…but the sentiment is so easily applied to basket-making…
“To sew is to pray. Men don’t understand this. They see the whole but they don’t see the stitches. They don’t see the speech of the creator in the work of the needle. We mend. We women turn things inside out and set things right. We salvage what we can of human garments and piece the rest into blankets. Sometimes our stitches stutter and slow. Only a woman’s eyes can tell. Other times, the tension in the stitches might be too tight because of tears, but only we know what emotion went into the making. Only women can hear the prayer.” ~ LOUISE ERDRICH, Four Souls