Weaving – make a basket (for many uses!)

At last Saturday’s Festival of Making event in Totnes, I learned how to weave with Bridget. I took to this straight away, it’s great fun but you have to be patient on your first one while you get the hang of it! I went home and made a basket, which I’m using as a pen pot.



– for this design, 12 strips of ‘tough’ paper or thin card around 50cm long and 2cm wide. I used a calendar from last year (colourful pictures on one side). You can upcycle tetrapaks (1l juice cartons), cut diagonally into long strips then cut to length

– 8 paperclips or clothes pegs

– that’s it!

How to:

I’ve got some step-by-step photos to try and explain this more easily. Please ask if anything is unclear!

1. Lay six strips side by side on the ground or table – note that the side which is face down will become the outside of the basket!

2. Pick up another strip, and weave it over and under the six strips (under, over, under, over, under, over)

3. Take another strip and weave it over and under the six strips, opposite to the first strip (over, under, over, under, over under)

4. Continue until all 12 strips are woven together so you have a 6 by 6 square. Use pegs or paperclips to secure the corners. Note: make sure the strips are tightly woven (i.e. no gaps between them). It should look like this:


5. Take the centre two strips on one side, and fold them upwards, with the strip that was underneath behind the other one – you’ll get which one is right as it’ll be ‘loose’ if it’s not!


Repeat on all four sides, and secure with paperclips or pegs. These will be the corners of the base of the finished basket.

6. Take the strip to the left and the right of the ‘new’ corner, and weave them under and over, so you have a 2 by 2 diamond. Secure with a clip or peg, and repeat on each side. Try to keep the weave tight!


7. Take the next strips to each side (the last strips), and weave them, so you have a 3 x 3 diamond on each side. At this stage you’ll want to remove the 4 clips or pegs from the original square. Keep checking the weave is tight and that you’ve not missed an under or over!

Image8. Next, you start to weave the sides together – work your way around the basket, adding a strip from the right to each diamond, then on to the next one. Continue until you run out of length, or you reach the desired height for your basket – you need an inch or so spare at the top to secure the end.


9. Finishing the top. You’ve got a couple of options, fold the edge flat, or have a ‘serrated’ top.


Serrated top


Straight edge

For a serrated edge, fold each strip back on itself and tuck it into the basket weave.

For a flat edge, take a cross of strips and fold it down to create a straight edge. Tuck the ends of the strips into the basket weave (you can cut off any excess that pokes through).

Ta-da! You can sew a chain stitch or tie a ribbon around the top if you want it to be a little more hard-wearing.


For different widths of basket (larger diameter), use more strips – e.g. a 12 by 12 square on the base. For a taller basket, use longer strips. There are so many uses for pots/baskets: a pot holder, a fruit bowl, a wine bottle holder…

To learn how to weave, contact Bridget who makes lovely baskets and structures with willow, reed and recycled materials on bcoatalen@yahoo.com or look out for a skillshare through Transition Town Totnes!


Upcycled CD coasters

These were quick and easy! Sorting through a box, I found a stack of old computer and backup discs to be upcycled. I do need some coasters, although I might donate these to Totnes Transition Town’s stall at Santa Sunday on Dec 15th (Civic Hall, Totnes).


– old CDs/DVDs
– glue (I used PVA – I’ll see how resilient this is)
– paper for covering
– paintbrush

I glued 3 CDs in a stack, to give the coaster a little height. Tracing around a CD, I then cut out discs of paper to decorate the coasters with. I had this great piece of fairtrade paper which I used as a wall decoration in NZ, but had been torn in two. I love the teal and silver and the hand print is fab for a coaster! The trick to making the paper tea/wine/water resistant is to paint it with 2-3 coats of slightly watered down PVA, which dries into a slightly glossy coating.

The glue’s still a bit wet on these, but I’ll update this post with a photo of the stack – I made 6 – once they’re fully dry.

Recycled Christmas wreath

Apologies for the lack of post yesterday – it was a busy day! I made this but didn’t have time to blog.

We don’t have many Christmas decorations, and we didn’t have a wreath. I saw a paper wreath online made from beautiful old, discoloured book pages but I didn’t have anything I was willing to tear apart. However there were some magazines I’d put in the recycling, and three food magazines with vibrant pictures which were ideal!



– three magazines (for a 40cm diameter wreath)
– a ring of tough cardboard
– a stapler
– decorations (optional) e.g. ribbons, baubles, pinecones, etc.

For each paper ‘ruffle’ in the wreath, I tore each magazine page in two lengthwise, crumpled each strip, straightened them out and then rolled (lightly folded) them into four.
Each one of these rolls was splayed out at one end, and pinched flat at the other. I gathered three rolls together by the flat ends – one splayed outwards, one straight up, and one splayed inwards, and stapled the flat end to the card ring. Repeat many times! 🙂 This isn’t technical but it took an hour or so to tear and prepare the ruffles and staple them together. You could glue them if you prefer and have a hot glue gun to had – PVA won’t cut it here!

I had one page left of an old calendar I used for weaving (to be blogged soon), so I cut out the week of the 25th and used it for the letters of ‘NOEL’ (I still keep giggling about my homage to a bloke called Noel). I haven’t decided whether to add more decorations to this wreath (possibly some holly sprigs and berries), but I think I quite like it simple.


Have yourself a merry little Christmas – homemade decoration

This was yesterday’s project – my partner and I have collected unwanted wooden pallets and broken them up so we have wooden planks available for DIY and craft projects.

Inspired by a picture on Pinterest, I’ve made a… tree-shaped wall hanging for Christmas.

Merry one-month-til Christmas!


– two long (around 80cm) and one short (around 60 cm) pallet planks

– white paint (leftover tester pot)

– small paintbrush

– tape measure

– pencil

– hand saw

– scrap paper

– wood nails

– hammer

I started by scrubbing the pallet wood clean, as it’s been outside gathering algae for a while, with a stiff brush and some Ecover all purpose cleaner. I then left them to dry while I did some planning.

The hardest part was figuring out the size of the lettering, and therefore the lengths of wood to cut. I sketched out the letters on scrap paper, cut them out and traced around them on the wood to get the lettering consistent (if I’d had a craft knife/scalpel I may have cut out a stencil and used this instead).

Then I marked up the lengths of wood and cut them using the handsaw (sawdust went in the compost bin). The ends weren’t rough, otherwise I’d have sanded them.

I have four leftover tester pots of paint, three blue and one white, and decided the white would make the best contrast with the wood, and was more seasonal.

Having painted the letters, the paint dried quite quickly so I was able to lay out the ‘branches’ on the ‘trunk’ (I measured each side to get them central, and measured a consistent 1.5cm gap between them), and attach them using three nails per branch. This morning I wound a small piece of picture wire around two of the nails so I could hang it on the wall.

I’m pretty pleased with this one!

If you’re interested in making things from pallets, there are groups on Facebook and boards on Pinterest with loads of good ideas. There are different kinds of pallets, and some are treated with fairly unpleasant chemicals, so be aware of this as it may influence what you use them for. You can often pick up pallets for free from companies who otherwise return or recycle them – I got this from a house nearby that had some building materials delivered on it. 

Made & repaired – Ikea floor lamp

‘Only’ one project completed today – but I’ve been making a jolly mess in the kitchen instead! Roasted butternut squash & pepper soup with parmesan croutons, and chai spiced apple muffins. Yum.

I’ve had this Ikea lamp, with a paper shade, since University I think, so nearly a decade. It hasn’t travelled well, and the shade was pretty ripped up; I’d patched it before but it became too flimsy irreparable. Stupidly, I threw the shade away when I was having a fairly brutal cull after I moved! Then I found out Ikea doesn’t sell the shade separately to the base, and I realised I’d have to make one if I wanted it to be functional again – and realised the wire loops from the broken shade would have been incredibly useful!

Today I decided I’d make a new shade (and change the plug, as it still had a New Zealand plug on it).




– one roll of ‘tracing paper’ (thick – not greaseproof paper)

– one wire hanger, and part of a wire hanger leftover from a previous project

– leaf skeletons

– tape

– PVA glue

– pliers with cutter (to bend and cut the hanger)

I made the body of the shade from tracing paper, scavenged from a cupboard clear out at work a couple of years ago. This took a 150cm by 88cm piece, and I doubled it up to make it a little more opaque (the insides of the lamp aren’t particularly attractive!).

The shade needed some kind of hanger to attach it to the top of the base – I made a loop, around 85cm circumference, to fit inside the folded top of the length of paper. I folded the top down and taped it in place. Then I got an offcut of hanger, twisted a loop in the middle of it, and (for the moment) bluetac-ed the hanger to the loop on either side of the shade while I think of a more permanent solution. The shade is taped down the back where the roll of paper joins. I think what’s great about the shade is that it’s neutral and it could easily be painted or decorated to change the appearance.

I found a few leaf skeletons in a box of crafty things which I attached with a tiny dab of PVA glue, to add a little interest.

It’s not the most professional or tidy thing I’ve made but it is now an inoffensive working lamp! It’s got 3 x 5W energy saving bulbs in it and casts a lovely soft light to supplement the pendant light in the lounge (my craft corner is otherwise a little dark).