Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Because Everyone Should Learn How to Make Pine Needle Baskets

bundle of clean pine needles 

My new lake community has a lovely group of women called the Lady Lakers who meet once a month for fellowship and also to coordinate good works for the community -- like yard sales and concerts and 5k runs and donations to the local school and so much more!

This past weekend we all gathered to learn how to weave pine needle baskets.

Lady Lakers!
Friends, as with many primitive arts, this is so much harder than it looks! We started with walnut pieces for the center... and clumps of cleaned and boiled longleaf pine needles. (You have to prep the pine needles first by using fingernails or scissors to remove the bark-y cap on the end.) We used needles and waxed thread to start wrapping the straw around the walnut. We did our best to follow instructor Jane's every tip and direction. (Jane learned at John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina... totally on my bucket list to spend a week up there!)

Some of us (me!) put in way more stitches than necessary attaching the first layer of pine needles to the walnut, and that kind of threw off the stitching design. Some of us (me!) realized pretty quickly that pine needle basketry was not our "thing." (Maybe it's my left-handedness? It just felt too... something. Probably I'll like it better the next time I try. :)

the bottom of a basket
(that will never be completed)

But others of us (Grace!) took to it like fishermen takes to the water at 5 am on our lake... here's Grace's finished basket. Isn't it gorgeous?!

Jane's baskets
As for me, I bought a finished basket from Jane instead. :)

I'll be donating it back to the Lady Lakers' silent auction in the fall. Now that we all know how labor-intensive it is to make the darn things, I know everyone will want one -- not only will it be a beautiful place for cookies or crackers or other sweet treats, but what a fabulous conversation piece!

Thank you, Lady Lakers... and Jane!

Next up: Cherokee leaf pounding with Alabama Folklife Association!


  1. These are wonderful. I have made pine needle baskets, Irene, way back in the past, spending time at our mountain cabin. It is hard, but I still have one, have taught students how to do it, too. Sounds like a nice group!

  2. Irene, what a neat description of Lady Lakers group!
    Love your blog! and most of all your friendship!

  3. Cool! (You say that it is harder than it looks, but it looks plenty hard to me!!)

  4. What a challenge! And now you appreciate the finished product even more. How exciting to belong to a lake community group.


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