Basket and Chair Weaving

Help Support Homesteading Forum:

Peanut

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
14,163
Location
Bama
I think I posted one of the chairs before but not in it’s own thread. The other day I mentioned my grandpa teaching me to braid rope using baler twine saved from hay bales each winter. We’d sell them in town to other farmers.

We also braided chair bottoms from baler twine. Chair kits like these below were sold everywhere in the south for decades. (I think a furniture company in NC made them) We’d buy kits at the hardware store. Next we’d coat them with varnish/lacquer and assemble the chairs. Then we’d braid the bottoms with twine.

These chairs are at least 50yrs old. The bottoms just as sound as the day we made them. And still used in the storm cellar and on the porch.

We have any basket makers here? The same weaving patterns are used for making baskets, chair bottoms and rope.

Below are a couple of white oak baskets I still have. I used them as a kid when we’d pull corn. It was pulled by hand in the fall and tossed in piles every 20ft or so. Then we’d go through the field pulling a wagon with a tractor. These piles of corn would be put in these very baskets and carried to the wagon and dumped.

Chairs a 01a.JPGChairs a 02a.JPGk 02 ( 2)a.jpgt 01 (1)a.jpg
 

Peanut

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
14,163
Location
Bama
When we'd feed hay we'd cut the strings at the knot. A single string was about 10ft long, a nice length to work with.

When braiding rope or chair bottoms single strings had to be tied to another to lengthen it.

On chair bottoms we'd put the knots on the underside of the seat. You can see the knots in this pic.

Chairs a 03a.JPG
 

Alaskajohn

Bugged out
Neighbor
Joined
Oct 2, 2020
Messages
2,102
Location
Alaska
This is sadly a skill that didn't get passed down from my grandparents generation to my generation on my side of the family. I clearly recall my elders making footstools, chairs, baskets, etc and selling them for money when I was a pup in Appalachia in the early 60s. I still have some of the hand me downs from their work, but almost zero practical knowledge except for what I remember watching them do.
 

Peanut

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
14,163
Location
Bama
I didn't make the big "cotton" baskets above but saw them being made. Grandpa and I harvested select white oak trees. Then we took them to a guy living a few miles away, looked to be 80yrs old. He split them and made the baskets. (I learned something about tree selection I still use to this day)

Seems we were there about 3 days, had half dozen large baskets made.. He and grandpa doing the work. I was about 7 and bored out of my mind but he had some mean hounds so I didn't wander to far.

There is a good write up on the process in the first "FoxFire" book. From tree selection to basket making, chair bottoms etc (with a few photos).
 

Bacpacker

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Dec 4, 2017
Messages
12,052
Location
East Tn
I don't recall either side of my family doing anything similar. That is a good skill to have with baler twine. That stuff would last forever. And looks to be the good old hemp twine.
I've saw folks in the mountains doing a demo using a white oak they took down and split it into the fine strips to weave baskets and chairs with. Another good skill to have. Sadly I have neither.
 

Neb

Jack of all trades master of some
Neighbor
Joined
Sep 4, 2020
Messages
5,627
When we'd feed hay we'd cut the strings at the knot. A single string was about 10ft long, a nice length to work with.

When braiding rope or chair bottoms single strings had to be tied to another to lengthen it.

On chair bottoms we'd put the knots on the underside of the seat. You can see the knots in this pic.

View attachment 84664
The Princess PAID to have her grandmothers kitchens chairs re-cained with a different pattern about 35 years ago. We still use those chairs.

Ben
 

Weedygarden

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Dec 3, 2017
Messages
14,497
I have made baskets and will post some photos of some of them later. I have never made baskets from oak, but have looked at how it is done. I have used round reed, flat reed, choir (coconut fiber) and more to make baskets. I still have some basket making supplies. I have made the Amish style egg baskets and other styles. I missed attending a class on making baskets from long pine needles.
 

jishinsjourney

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Apr 23, 2022
Messages
107
I have made baskets and will post some photos of some of them later. I have never made baskets from oak, but have looked at how it is done. I have used round reed, flat reed, choir (coconut fiber) and more to make baskets. I still have some basket making supplies. I have made the Amish style egg baskets and other styles. I missed attending a class on making baskets from long pine needles.
Pine needle baskets sound like a really useful thing to be able to make here, since pine trees and pine needles are everywhere. Definitely something I’d be curious to learn more about.
 

Peanut

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
14,163
Location
Bama
Pine needles come in different lengths. The longer needles are not always as easy to find.
You ladies know about the species of pine here in the southeast called "long leaf pine"? It's needles are about 18 inches long. Not that common in N. alabama but they grow all along the coastal plain from FL to TX.

They would be great for weaving. I've never really thought about using pine needles before though. Seems I've read about using them but know nothing about how it's done. (Pinus palustris, l leaf p.)

Sometimes I go to the Moundville Archaeological Park run by the U. of A. I just checked their events calendar for the summer. I saw basket making in the list.
-----------------------------
Its a large site built by mound building peoples and is still a gathering place for native peoples in the state. The university allows them to teach their cultures.

It's a wonderful place to spend the day. There are 29 mounds built more than 1000 years ago. It's also a current archaeological dig.
 

Weedygarden

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Dec 3, 2017
Messages
14,497
You ladies know about the species of pine here in the southeast called "long leaf pine"? It's needles are about 18 inches long. Not that common in N. alabama but they grow all along the coastal plain from FL to TX.

They would be great for weaving. I've never really thought about using pine needles before though. Seems I've read about using them but know nothing about how it's done. (Pinus palustris, l leaf p.)

Sometimes I go to the Moundville Archaeological Park run by the U. of A. I just checked their events calendar for the summer. I saw basket making in the list.
-----------------------------
Its a large site built by mound building peoples and is still a gathering place for native peoples in the state. The university allows them to teach their cultures.

It's a wonderful place to spend the day. There are 29 mounds built more than 1000 years ago. It's also a current archaeological dig.
Eighteen inch pine needles are something I have never seen, nor anything even close to that. The pine in my yard has needles about 1 1/2 inch long, so not good for basket making.
 

Peanut

Awesome Friend
Neighbor
Joined
Dec 16, 2017
Messages
14,163
Location
Bama
We have several members along the coast... someone might have them growing in their yard. They are most common in the pine barrens along the FL border with GA and AL, that general region. They are my favorite pine species. The needles vary, always a few inches longer than a foot. You should see them covered in dew, drooping in the early morning sun. Reminds me of Jurassic park.

I see them sometimes but not in huge tracks of timber. Just thought of who I should ask! I have a new neighbor I met a couple weeks ago (few miles away). Anyway, He just retired from one of the large timber companies in my area and is building a house. He'll know where to find long leaf.
 
Last edited:

Latest posts

Top