Yesterday was July 1st- Independence Day for Somalia, Rwanda and Burundi. These countries in Africa won their independence in the early 1960s, Somalia from Italy and Rwanda and Burundi from Belgium.
They celebrate with festivities and parades on that special day, but their countries still have a large measure of violence and insecurity they are working out. They are poor countries where the people have to make a living however they are able. One of the ways they do this is by making intricately woven baskets to sell at market or use for their own households.
These baskets range from plain (but useful) to wildly colored and patterned. They take so much work and artistic talent to make. They are amazing! They take reeds and weeds and turn them into useful and beautiful pieces of art-- amazing!!
Baskets can be made in different ways. One way is to grab a small bundle of reeds and sew and twist them together in a spiral, adding more as needed and sewing them together with different colored yarns to make the pattern.
Another way is to make a frame of strong but pliable reeds in a star (*) shape. The weaver uses other smaller reeds to weave over and under the frame. Around and around, changing sizes or types of materials to make a pattern. They make it look so easy and fun. So we tried our hand at a little weaving. Let me just say that I have a whole new respect for these weavers, it's NOT that easy!
Basket Weaving for the Beginner
For the project you will need:
- pipe cleaners
- plastic cup
- yarn (optional)
1. We are going to make the type of basket that is woven around a frame. So take the plastic cup and make vertical cuts from the top almost all the way to the bottom, all the way around.
2. Take a pipe cleaner (or yarn if you'd rather use that) and slide one end through a slit into the middle of the cup. Tape in place.
3. Start weaving the pipe cleaner (or yarn) over and under the different pieces of cup. This was a little hard with the pipe cleaner but I think would be easier with yarn. Push down towards the bottom and add more length by twisting the pipe cleaners together when needed.
4. Work your way around and up the cup until you've done as much as you want.
5. Cut some strips of tape and use them to finish the edges of the top.
These are nowhere near as beautiful as the real thing but we tried :)