Setting up rim
To learn how to set up a rim on your basket read How to Set Up a Rim on Your Basket. Follow the steps outlined there to prepare you for the lashing technique below.
What is lashing?
Lashing is a process of “whip stitching” around the rim to hold it in place. To do this the basket weaver uses a long length of reed that is approximately a third of the width of the rim reed. Often this reed is either a flat reed or a flat oval reed.
Or this can also be a piece of round reed, if used on small baskets.
The long length of the reed is soaked in water to make it pliable. Then it is threaded around the layers of the rim and the upper row of the basket to secure the rim to the basket with a whip stitch. These whip stitches are continued all the way around the rim holding everything snuggly in place and securing all aspects of the basket neatly together.
The goal in doing the lashing on the rim is to pull the lashing as tight as you can without breaking the lashing reed. Reed shrinks slightly as it drys. Pulling each stitch tight as you go will avoid having large gaps in the rim once the basket is completely dry.
Two types of lashing
Basic lashing is what we will be covering here. It can also be called a whip stitch or single lashing.
Cross-stitch lashing or X-lashing
A cross-stitch lashing or x-lashing is done by doing a basic lashing around the rim in one direction and then immediately going back over the first round of lashing in the opposite direction creating a criss-cross in the lashing reed, or ‘x’ shapes.
See How to Do Cross-Stitch or X-Lashing on a Basket Rim for a full tutorial on how to do the x-lashing technique.
Gathering materials and tools for lashing
- Incomplete basket with the rim set up (see How to Set Up the Rim on Your Handwoven Basket for instructions on how to prepare the rim)
- Workspace set up
- Reed shears
- Lashing reed (the size and width depends on the basket you are working on. See more below)
- Straight tipped packer
- Spray bottle
- Water tub
Measuring out your lashing reed
When I am measuring out the reed for the lashing I like to wrap the length around the top of the basket and find a piece that goes around the top of the basket three times.
Soak lashing reed, keeping it wet
Lashing reed will be handled roughly as you pull it through the spaces in the basket and slide it through your hands. In order to avoid cracking the reed soak it in a tub of warm water for five minutes before beginning to lash your rim.
When you are in the process of lashing your rim make sure to stop every few stitches to spray the lashing reed and the rim with the spray bottle of water to keep the reed damp. This will avoid the reed becoming ‘hairy’ and will also help in pulling the rim very tight.
Starting the lashing
Creating the starting knot
With the rim securely set around the top edge of your basket with plastic clamps and a wet piece of soaked lashing reed begin by tucking the lashing reed between the inner rim and the top row of weaving of the basket. Do this right over a stake.
The lashing reed should be positioned over a stake.
Now bring the end you just tucked down in between the layers back up and around into the same space once again. Create a loop around the inner rim.
Grab on to the length of reed that is looped around the rim and pull down to tighten the loop and cinch the ‘knot’.
Then tuck the end behind the rows of weaving that go over top of the stake its secure against.
How to do basic lashing
The whip stitch happens between each stake in the basket. You will be catching the top row of weaving and the rim in each stitch so that they sandwich together holding everything firmly to the basket.
Do this by grasping the lashing reed with your non-dominant hand and sliding it through your fingers gently all the way to the end. The point of doing this is to keep the reed oriented the same way along the whole length so that it doesn’t twist when you create your stitch.
Using the straight tipped packer slide the tip into space between the first and second rows of the basket to create room for the lashing reed to slide between them.
With the correct orientation of the reed (as described above by sliding it through your hand) slide the lashing reed into space and then all the way through. Once you’ve pulled all the excess through tightening your whipstitch by pulling on the working reed until it is tight.
Tension matters. Pull tight on the lashing reed as you work. The reed begins to shrink as it dries. If it’s not tight when it’s wet the lashing and rim become loose as it dries and becomes more vulnerable to breakage.
Continue doing this process around the rim putting one stitch into each space between the stakes of the basket.
Lashing over the overlapped ends of the rim
When you go over the joints in the rim as shown below make sure to hold the rim in place and maintain its position so that the rim sits right against the basket. Try to catch the rim joint with a stitch so that it holds it tight.
If you run out of lashing reed, or it breaks
If you accidentally run out of lashing reed before you’ve made it all the way around the rim of your basket, or if the lashing reed breaks while pulling it tight you will simply add in a new piece of reed.
Do this by undoing a few of the lashed stitches so that you have a tail long enough to push to the inside of the basket between the top and second row of weavers and then loop it around the inner rim and pull down into the wall of the basket to secure it. Just like you did for the starting knot.
Begin with a new length of lashing reed the same way you started out by sliding the end between the inner rim and the basket and looping it around and tucking it into the basket wall. Do this right next to where you left off. Then continue lashing the rim as you have been.
Lashing over a handle
If your basket has a handle there are two ways to lash your basket. You can either continue doing the lashing creating a whip stitch over the handle; essentially treating the handle as if it were another stake.
Or you can create a whip stitch over the handle and then turn and go back over in the opposite direction creating an ‘x’ over the handle. Doing the ‘x’ stitch is slightly more durable than one loop over.
To do the ‘x’ over the handle create your basic stitch like normal. Looping around the rim and sliding through the space on the other side of the handle. Then bring it up and cross it over in the opposite direction. This will create the ‘x’ shape. Slide the lashing reed back through space on the first side of the handle. There will now be two stitches in that space.
To continue lashing from here you will bring the lashing reed back around the handle on the inside of the basket and go into the next space between stakes. From here lash normally until you reach the other side of the handle and do the same on that side as above.
Ending the lashing- tying off
Make sure to keep your lashing reed and all the rim wet as you work. Pull tight on the lashing as you go. Again, a reminder that the reed shrinks as it dries. A loose rim is easily broken and looks sloppy.
To tie off the lashing and finish the rim loop it around the inner rim and pull it down into the wall of the basket to secure it. Just like you did for the starting knot. Tuck the end into the weavers in the basket wall.
Allowing the basket to dry
When the rim is complete do any final shaping or molding of the basket while it is still wet. Allow the basket to dry overnight.
Signing the basket
Sign and date your basket with a waterproof pen. This is a great way to see your progress as you continue to weave baskets. Or look back to remember the time you wove your basket.
Staining or sealing the basket
Once your basket it completely dry you have the option to stain or seal the basket.
I highly suggest at least sealing your basket with a clear finish to preserve the basket and avoid mildew and mold.
There is also the option to stain your basket with a wood stain that will change the color of your basket. If you want something darker, a wash of color or a slightly different wood tone consider staining.