Saturday, 31 May 2014

Wool and willow



The first basket I ever made was purple and yellow and traditionally used for collecting eggs. It's long since disappeared but had one (and only one) lovely feature - the handle was attached using a pattern called a God's eye. These days I used them not only for handles but also for tying together plant supports and trays, with split green willow. I adore them.



A couple of weeks back I was invited to take part in a fundraising day for a local community orchard, and to run an activity for some of the children who would be coming. It was tremendously hot and the willow I had carefully prepared was drying out too rapidly to be of any practical use. 



I had guessed this might be a problem so at the last minute I grabbed my basket of wool and proceeded to spend the next four hours showing small people how to make woollen God's eyes with willow twigs. Brilliant fun - ranging from very pretty pastel creations to some in the colours of World Cup teams!



There's something terrifically appealing about the way the stripes of colour harmonise and change depending on how they're ordered. I made them as a child and have always liked them; and when I read of their traditional use by the Huichol people of Mexico I fell in love with them just a little bit more - when a baby is born the father weaves the centre of the eye and a stripe is added each year until the child is five, in the hope of ensuring the good health of the baby.




So here we are in half term and while I crocheted and tweeted and hovered at the end of the table, the girls had their very own little weaving session. These are gradually taking over our house so we should be well protected with woolly amulets!




Apparently this one is in the colours of the Pride of Portree quidditch team ...



Here is a link to instructions if you'd like to make your own, including a variation on raised and recessed rows that I feel rather tempted to have a go at myself.

15 comments:

  1. I am going straight to the instruction page and then the wool shop. They are most pleasing and i am quite hoping that the SmallBeans will get into production. Hope all's well with you Ax

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for reminding me of this weaving tradition. Yes, I have made these Eyes myself...way back in the last century. (Cannot get used to thinking that we really are in a new century.)

    Hoping that your willows will be moist enough eventually to show others how beautiful this can be made with nature's material.

    xo

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a lovely idea, and such a pretty way of securing the willow. A great way of occupying the children when the willow dried out too, well saved!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I remember making these with a class of year 4 kids back in the days when I earnt a living. Thanks for the reminder.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Aren't they lovely, well done Val for passing on your skills to the local children, who knows you may have started off some budding weavers of the future. I love these and we have one hanging on the wall in our dining room that Amy made in reception class at school. I didn't know how it was made so thanks for the link. Love the picture at the top by the way - beautiful and I can see why you adore the pattern

    ReplyDelete
  6. They are so pretty. Thanks for the link!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Looks like great fun -- they're very pretty!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ooh ... my fingers are itching to have a go! I have a vague memory of doing something similar as a Brownie, but it was a long time ago.

    ReplyDelete
  9. What a great project for kids (and grown-ups!), and I love the Huichol people story.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I remember making one of those long, long ago. I remember being a little disappointed that my mum's wool scraps were not in as nice as colours as my friends' mums' scraps (I had older brothers and mum wasn't much of a knitter...). Given that my scrap basket is overflowing, I should probably get the kids to make some. Although, come to think of it, most of my scraps are in boring colours. Maybe it is hereditary...

    ReplyDelete
  11. My textiles group loved making these and they are so easy but very effective. This is what school holidays are for.....making stuff and having fun/ a break.
    I shall ask Sophie if she would like to make one thus weekend, nice to dot out in the garden.

    ReplyDelete
  12. That was quick thinking on your part to entertain the children! These are so pretty and I love the idea behind them of wishing a new baby health.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I also made these with some kids from my son's class once. They look great and were a lot of fun. Love the Quidditch team one :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you for sharing the link. Kids will love it and keep them busy..

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for leaving me some feedback! I love reading your comments and I do my best to reply to them. If Blogger gives me your email address, or if I can find one on your blog I'll try to reply by email; otherwise I'll reply in the comments here.