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How to Coil a Basket
This is a cool craft indeed! I'm going to give you the basics here, and some ideas for jumping-off points. Let's get right to it!
So, get yourself a package of cotton clothesline at your local variety or hardware store. I buy a 50-foot pack locally for about $2.50. When you cut this stuff, the ends fray like crazy. So you'll want to wrap the cut end in a little masking tape . . .
. . . And then cut that on a diagonal.
We're going to wrap our clothesline in some yarn. I like to use up scraps of leftover yarn for coil basket-making. I've cut about three yards here, which is a nice length to work with. See how I've loosely bundled one end of it? This comes in handy during the initial steps of your basket.
Lay the end of your yarn and the end of your clothesline side by side, like this.
Then, begin wrapping the yarn around the clothesline. You're wrapping toward the end of the clothesline, as shown here. And you're also wrapping over the cut end of the yarn.
A note on wrapping: you want the yarn to be snug around the clothesline, and very close together, so it covers the clothesline completely.
You'll want to wrap enough clothesline so that you can bend it like this, and have the wrapped part cover the entire bend.
Continue wrapping then, and wrap over the end of the clothesline, covering up the cut end, and about 1/2" along the leading end of the clothesline.
Before you go any further, you'll want to unwind the yarn bundle you made in the beginning, and thread the other end of the yarn onto a big-eyed, blunt tapestry needle. And this photo shows the same wrapped end you saw in the previous photo, just pointing the opposite direction now.
Now, take that wrapped end and carefully begin to coil it. Hold it in this coil while you grab the needle-end of the yarn.
We're going to anchor this little coil now. You do this by passing your needle through the coil above, as shown.
Pull the yarn all the way through (and remember, it's several yards, so this will take a little pulling). This makes a little stitch, which anchors that coil in place.
Then, you begin the repetitive part: wrap the yarn 3-4 times around the clothesline, and then take another stitch in the coil above to anchor. Wrap 3-4 more times, and then take another stitch. Easy!
Actually, the challenging part of this craft is yarn-management. Because you're dealing with long lengths of the stuff, you can get kind of tangled up as you wrap it around and around.
Here's how I do it: I kind of wad the yarn up, literally, wadding it up in my fist, with the needle-threaded end floating somewhere in the wad. Then, I toss this wad of yarn over the clothesline several times. That makes the loose wraps you see here . . .
. . . And then I set that wadded yarn down, and pull and twist those loose wraps with my fingers until they're snug. Then, I shake that wad of yarn out, find my needle, and take an anchoring stitch.
That little system, while efficient, may create a knot or two in your yarn. If you notice one, take a moment and untie it.
You can see here that, as you coil your way along, you'll keep increasing the number of wraps you make in between those anchoring stitches. I started with 3-4 wraps for the first couple of coils. Then I went to 5-6 for the next few coils. Then I went to 6-7. This is a good place to settle in: 6-7 wraps, then an anchor stitch. You don't want to add more wraps than this between stitches, because then your basket won't hold together well.
Also, your yarn will of course get shorter and easier-to-manage as you go.
. . . Bet you're wondering how to end a strand of yarn. Well, here's how! You make one last anchor stitch, as shown here . . .
. . . And then you pass the needle under several stitches on the coil. Then, cut the end off.
To begin a new strand (or a new color, as shown here), lay the end of the new strand along the clothesline, as shown here. Thread the other end of the strand onto a needle.
Begin wrapping with the new strand, making sure you start right up against the old strand. You're also wrapping over the end of the new strand.
. . . And then proceed as normal.
At some point, the base of your basket will be as large as you want it, and it will be time to build the walls of your basket. So as you coil, you'll begin positioning the new coil above the old one, instead of next to it.
You can adjust the shape with your fingers as you coil, too. So this image shows the beginning of the walls. From here, you just keep coiling and shaping.
When you're ready to end your basket, you'd cut the end of the clothesline, tape it, and cut it on the diagonal. Then you can wrap and stitch this end down to the last coil of your basket.
There's a lot more information on patterns and variations in this book, The Fibercraft Sampler. I found my copy on Paperback Swap, and I'm sure it's on eBay, too. Keep in mind that you can use other things besides clothesline for your coil - like that paper-coil stuff, or twine. And you can certainly use your novelty yarns in the wraps, too. Happy Coiling!