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.