Basket weaving with reed
There are many different basket weaving styles and traditions in the world. Check out Beginners Guide to Basket Weaving for an overview of basket types and techniques.
Here on Textile Indie we are going to focus on baskets made from the rattan plant. This is called basket reed. The pieces we’ll be weaving with are made from the inner parts of the rattan vine.
Rattan is a vine that grows in Indonesia. It is part of the palm family (genus Calamus).
The vines are harvested by cutting into long lengths and then processing for different purposes. For basket weaving it is put through a process to produce several different shapes and widths of basket reed.
Reed comes in a variety of sizes and types. Knowing these will help you understand reed basket pattern material lists. It will also enable you to design beautiful baskets because you know what is available.
Basket reed comes in five different types:
- Flat reed
- Flat oval reed
- Oval-oval reed
- Round reed
- Half round reed
Flat reed is flat on both sides and approximately 1/16″ to 1/8″ thick.
Flat oval reed is flat on one side and beveled on the other. At the center, the thickest part is approximately 1/16″ to 1/8″ thick. If you put two pieces flat sides together you would create an oval.
Oval-oval reed is rounded on both sides.
Half-round reed is round on one side and flat on the other. It differs from flat-oval reed because the curve of the round side on the half-round is much more pronounced. If you put two pieces flat sides together you would create a circle.
As the name implies this is a reed that has been cut into a long round cylinder. There are many different diameters available. More on sizing below.
Reed types are then identified by the width of the reed.
So if a pattern calls for 1/4″ flat reed, that means you will need flat reed that is 1/4″ wide.
You can find flat reed and flat oval reed as wide as one inch and as narrow as 11/64 of an inch.
Flat reed, flat-oval reed, oval-oval reed, and half-round reed are all sold by width in fractions of an inch or in millimeters.
Round reed sizes
Round reed is sized by millimeter and often sold by a number (example: #0, #1, #2…).
Round reed sizing chart:
#0 round reed = 1.25 mm in diameter
#1 round reed = 1.5 mm in diameter
#2 round reed = 1.75 mm in diameter
#3 round reed = 2.25 mm in diameter
#4 round reed = 2.75 mm in diameter
#5 round reed = 3.5 mm in diameter
#6 round reed = 4.25 mm in diameter
#7 round reed = 5 mm in diameter
#8 round reed = 5.75 mm in diameter
#9 round reed = 6.25 mm in diameter
#10 round reed = 7.5 mm in diameter
Another material that I like to use in my basket weaving is seagrass. This is a tightly twisted grass rope that is used in different functions in basket weaving as an accent to the reed.
Seagrass is produced in several different sizes. Sold in millimeters or by a number (example: #0, #1, #2…).
#0 seagrass = 2.25 – 2.75 mm
#1 seagrass = 3.0 – 3.5 mm
#2 seagrass = 3.5 – 4.0 mm
#3 seagrass = 4.5 – 5.0 mm
#5 seagrass = 6.5 mm
Other materials- experimentation
Baskets can be made from a variety of materials. Don’t let the list above stop your imagination from working. These are just materials used to make baskets from reed. You can always experiment with new materials.
Other basket making materials could include: wire, paper, yarn, branches, grass, or seaweed.
Adding a handle to your baskets adds to its usefulness and well as design.
There are several different handles available to choose from.
For more in depth information on handles and handle resources visit Beginners Guide to Basket Handles.
- U handles
- D handles
- Swing handles
A “U” handle is a handle that is curved and open on the flat side.
These handles can be tucked in to the sides of baskets. Like a bushel basket.
A “D” handle is a handle that is shaped like the letter d. It is flat on three sides while curving around the forth side.
These handles work great for market baskets.
A swing handle comes in multiple different styles, the overall idea is that where it meets the rim of the basket it swings to one side or the other.
Just like the materials you can weave into the walls of your basket, you can create a variety of handles using other materials. Feel free to experiment with new ideas and materials to create your own handles.
Basket weaving materials can be found online from several different suppliers. Here are a few that I have ordered from.