Tuesday, 26 March 2013

How to weave a wreath


One of the first things I learned to weave was a simple wreath. These cost a lot of money in posh garden centres, but they're really straightforward to make if you have access to a tree which is sprouting suckers, before they burst into leaf. I use the lovely flexible rods from the base of the hazel tree in our garden, and  I have just collected (with permission!) similar cuttings from base of the lime tree in our village church. And if you really can't find any material and you're in the UK, I have a few made from willow for sale in my Etsy shop, or drop me an email and we can sort something out.

Warning - this is long and photo heavy but assumes you have never worked with wood or willow before. It also assumes you are right handed; I think for left handed weavers you could just reverse all the directions.


First cut your rods. They need to be not much thicker than a cm, or they're too hard to work with. The bottom left hand rod is too thick. The bottom right hand rod is fine - but you can always cut the ends off thick rods.

At this stage the rods are quite resistant and you need to soften them - hold a rod in one or both hands and apply a gentle flexing force with your thumbs, all along the length of the rod. Not too hard - they can be broken! You'll need to do this with any rod that seems just a bit reluctant to take shape. I will assume from this point on that you've softened the rods you're about to use.


Take a long rod and form it into a ring, effectively tying it in a knot. If it pings out of shape, you can temporarily tie it in place. The length of this first rod will determine the size of your finished wreath.

Insert a second rod, ideally opposite the knot, through the ring from left to right so that the left end is on top of the ring and the right end is underneath. Hold it firmly in place with your left hand, and begin to wrap the second rod around the ring, letting it more or less follow its natural curve. At this point, don't worry about the ends that are sticking out.


Insert a third rod, starting in a different point on the ring, and wrap it in the same way but this time allow its path to follow the first rod you wrapped - this way you get a neater finish and to my eye a more attractive flow. If you like a more haphazard, higgledy piggledy look then wrap at will!


Continue to add and wrap rods, always staggering the starts, until you have the size you want, or you run out of rods. It may look a little bit shaggy at this point! Keep an eye on the shape - if it goes wonky, you can apply pressure with your hands to fix it but it's always easiest to adjust this as you add each rod rather than trying to fix it at the end.


Now to trim the thick ends. I think they look best cut off flush to the curve of the ring, using secateurs, and before I cut I try to get all the ends to the back face of the wreath where they will be hidden. I leave the wispy thin ends for the moment.


Now I tuck any wavy ends into the wreath, or trim them off if I really can't get them to behave, and remove any string I used at the beginning. Check the shape, add a ribbon or string for hanging and there you go.


I added some crocheted daffodils using Lucy's pattern, and inserted wires into the leaves to stiffen them up. There are very few real daffs out here yet and my springy wreath cheers me up every day.


And there you have it! Once you've mastered this technique there's a very simple follow on project to make a bird feeder that I'll try to write up very soon.





27 comments:

  1. What a great project! Best of all it can be made from foraged supplies. I don't know how to crochet but those daffs are inspiring me to learn. I can't wait to see the next tutorial. : )

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  2. How lovely. At first I thought I would give this a try and then I remembered I already have a wreath that you made for me a few years ago. I usually bring it out at Christmas but I think I might pinch your idea and make it into an Easter wreath. Thank you!

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  3. You are a genius with a bendy stick. I know this for a fact.

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  4. Brilliant!

    Off to find some sticks!

    xx

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  5. I'm sure I have something similar that I made in the last century - probably in my garage somewhere. I should find it an decorate it for Easter.

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  6. Ohhhh...so that's how you do it!

    Nina x

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  7. It's lovely, and the tutorial is really easy to follow, thank you :)

    How strong do your hands need to be to do this Val? I have nerve damage in a shoulder that resulted from falling from a horse and so don't have a lot of strength in my left hand.

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  8. What a fabulous wreath, true beauty in nature.

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  9. My quince tree is sprouting suckers. I could make a wreath couldn't I? If only I could tear myself away from my sock knitting. Thanks for the tutorial.

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  10. What a great idea, I may just give it a go. love it with the daffs for Easter.
    Happy week xx

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  11. Oooh! lovely!!!! I havent been keeping up very well with my reading. Had no idea you were weaving so many things and they are so lovely! Do you have a shop????

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  12. Oh duh! I have just seen the Etsy link! Ignore me!!

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  13. Great tutorial! I love the result. Your crocheted daffodils are so sweet. This style of wreath can have endless decorating possibilities for all seasons. :)

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  14. A very cute wreath Ms. Dottie! I love the happy, bright daffodil touch too!

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  15. Thank you for the lovely tutorial! That looks so natural and so tidy! I can usually only manage one or t'other ;)

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  16. Brilliant Val. I will be taking my secateurs out with me later (we have some rather lovely willow trees nearby) and giving it a go over Easter. I second Mrs Silverpebble about your stick bending geniousness. Have a lovely Easter xxx

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  17. Love the simplicity of this tutorial and the crochet flowers are a perfect complement. I'm visiting from RicRac, and happy to have found you.

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  18. You make it look so easy. Wishing I lived in the UK so I could buy one of those beautiful things.

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  19. Beautiful. You are right that these things are v expensive. I love that they are made from natural materials obtained locally. I think one of these could be used at any time of year. I shall look out for suckers!

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  20. Ohhhh, bookmarking this to come back too once I've begged some willow off my Aunt! Love the daffodil addition too, Lucy's pattern was also bookmarked so just need to find the time to play now!

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  21. A couple of years ago I went along on a school trip with my 11yo. They visited a 'Roman re-enactment settlement' near the east coast and did various activities. One of those was willow weaving, and I made a simple wreath such as the one you've shown here. It was so simple but so pretty - I added a simple white ribbon and it now hangs from the pegs over my bed. If only I had more hours in the day, I could imagine this becoming a new favourite pastime!

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  22. I have some withies that I might be able to try a wreath with. This is an idea I could try out.
    Many thanks
    x

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  23. Perfect!
    Thanks for your brilliant tutorial. I have been wanting to do this for ages. Must have a look for some willow this spring... :o)

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  24. Such a lovely thing to do and a brilliant tutorial. I have a willow.....off to find the secateurs

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  25. we just pruned our grapevines - i should do something with those...

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