Twining is a foundational technique in basket weaving. In this guide, we’ll delve into twining the basket base to create a robust and stable foundation for your baskets.
(Visit the main Basket Weaving Page for a complete guide to all Textile Indie’s basket weaving posts and videos.)
For a complete list of basket terminology:
What is twining in basket weaving?
Twining is a technique used in basket weaving to hold all the stakes in the base of a basket and keep them from shifting.
After weaving the horizontal and vertical stakes together and incorporating your handle (if including one), take a round reed and twine around all the stakes.
The stakes will be held tightly in place. As you build the walls of your basket, a tight base comes in handy because you won’t be fighting moving stakes.
See basket twining in action
Watch this video to understand the basics of twining.
Step-by-step guide to basket twining
Follow these steps to twine your basket base successfully:
Check out my video embedded above if you want to see the process in motion, check out my video embedded above.
What type of reed is used to twine a basket base?
To twine the base, I use a piece of round reed; the size depends on the basket size.
A #3 round reed is an excellent place to start for a medium-sized basket.
I soak the round reed in water for two minutes and then fold it so that one tail is twelve inches longer than the other.
Give the reed a gentle crimp – you can use your fingers, pliers, or your spoke weight. Be gentle, or the reed will snap or crack. Minor cracking is fine. If the reed cracks more than halfway through, start with a new piece.
Squaring up the basket
Before you begin locking the stakes in place, you’ll want to square up your basket base.
Using a tape measure, check the width of the basket from the center out – check each stake for an even length.
If your basket includes a handle, the width should be consistent with the handle. In other words, if the handle is 8 inches, the width of the basket remains 8 inches from end to end.
Do the same measurements along the length of the basket, adjusting the outside rows to your desired length.
At this point, the stakes will be wonky. Visually adjust the inside stakes so that they’re even.
This process is much easier to show than tell. I have a video showing the process of squaring beginning at minute 8:00.
How to start the base twining process
The loop of this folded piece of round reed goes over the end of one of the stakes.
Start in the middle of one of the sides; it doesn’t matter which side.
I place the round reed on top of the stakes as I work so that I can orient myself between each stitch.
As you can see, I have the basket sitting on a towel. The towel absorbs excess moisture but allows me to turn the basket so I can work the twine efficiently and not contort my body into weird positions.
Working from left to right feels most natural if you’re right-handed.
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How to twine the base of a basket
To do the twining, I start by taking the length of the reed sitting on top of the current stake and sliding it under the next. The top twiner always goes behind the next stake.
Now, the piece that was on top is coming from underneath. The piece now on top (the top twiner) slides under the next stake.
The reed will create an ‘x’ or twist between each stake.
I continue this pattern until I’ve reached the point where I started – or come to a corner.
As you twine the basket, look over your work every few stitches and be sure the reed is crossing correctly. It’s much easier to backtrack a few stakes than start over.
How to twine the corners of a basket
For corners, I continue with the same pattern, the top piece sliding under the next stake and the piece underneath floats on top.
But for the corner, I create a nice crisp crease in the round reed as it turns the corner. The crease prevents it from puckering out later.
Be sure the reed is wet so it doesn’t crack when you create the crease. Again, make this crease with your fingers or a plier – just be gentle.
How to twine around the handle
If your basket includes a handle in the base, the handle is treated as one of the stakes.
Continue the over-under pattern incorporating the handle.
Take the reed underneath the previous stake and put it behind the handle. The piece of reed on top of the last stake runs outside the handle.
The handle section should have a loop of reed in front and a loop behind, holding it snuggly in place (you can see this in the video embedded above at timestamp 15:35.)
How to finish the twining process
When you come around the basket to where you began twining, clip the top reed at the edge of two stakes back from the starting point.
When I say “clip it to the outside edge,” I mean the edge that allows the weaver to lie across a stake, not fall short of it.
Clip the bottom reed to the outside edge, one stake back, so the reed tucks behind the point where you begin the twine.
Everything should lie flat on the inside of the basket.
(Watch the process in the above video at timestamp 20:49.)
What happens if I run out of round reed?
If you run out of reed before you run out of basket, it’s not a big deal – just splice in a new piece.
Grab another length of reed and wet it.
Back up to the center of a side. Clip the too-short bit of reed so that it ends at the edge, on top of the stake. That will keep the short end inside of the basket tucked in.
Place the new piece on top next to where you clipped the short piece. Carry on with the twining process.
(Watch the process in the above video at timestamp 17:30.)
Voila! You’ve twined your basket base.
This technique could be continued to weave up the walls of a basket if you want to use the round reed in the design.
For a complete guide to all Textile Indie’s basket weaving posts and videos, visit the main Basket Weaving Page.
More basket weaving techniques:
Check out Textile Indie’s self-paced basket program if you want to learn to weave beautiful baskets. Twelve different basket designs with video and written instructional support to learn foundational basketry techniques. Over the course of twelve months, you will receive one basket pattern and a video with supporting instructional material each month. Start at basket one and weave all twelve.