Fruit basket

Fruit basket

The body of this wee basket is stitched with blaeberry & strawberry-dyed thread (the berries that were on their way to the compost bin a few weeks ago):

Blaeberry thread

I finished off the top with raspberry. We’ll see if it keeps its colour. Here you can see the difference in colour between the ‘strawblaeberry’ thread in the base of the basket and the raspberry thread on the right:

Soft rush, linen thread dyed with blaeberries, strawberries and rasps, beeswax
Soft rush, linen thread, beeswax

The basket smells great – imagine ripe soft fruits, warm summer meadows and a hint of honey!

8 baskets in one day

Denise image Rosemarysimage image Swapnas Mary   Allison

On Monday this week, eight members of the Forth team from Scottish Natural Heritage joined me at The Steeple for a creative away-day. They swapped keyboards and screens for plants and beeswax, linen thread and needles and each went home with a unique stitched basket.

My heap of basket-making materials was supplemented by armfuls of useful bendy plants, harvested specially by SNH staff at Tentsmuir. I explained how these could be used, demonstrated the first stage of fiddly needle and thread work and the group got started. They picked up the process quickly, and we could see early on that there were going to be eight very different baskets.

image      image

I was very impressed with everyone’s willingness to experiment and improvise. By the afternoon there was a fine mess on the tables too, always a good sign. Here are the lovely finished baskets and their makers…




Here’s a list of the materials we used, collected with minimum (and some positive) impact on the environment:

Reedmace leaves, marram grass, lyme grass, soft rush, jointed rush, birch twigs, sycamore leaf-stalks, rhododendron twigs and leaves, blackthorn twigs (thorns removed!), beach-combed ships’ ropes, linen thread, bakers’ twine, beeswax.

Black Loch basket

These are the twigs I collected three weeks ago from the roadside near Black Loch: honeysuckle, willow, blackthorn and snowberry:

Goosegrass rope

Here’s their basket, including goosegrass rope, jute and beeswax:

Black Loch basket portrait

Black Loch basket base

Black Loch basket

Heather and homespun

Heather plants a few years old are like small trees. They have tough gnarly trunks which divide into springy twigs and tiny leaves. I’ve read that in the Hebrides they made rope from heather. They must have had great patience, and big hands.

Heather and homespun

Heather, hand-spun wool, beeswax, red ochre, flax oil
Heather, hand-spun wool, beeswax, red ochre, flax oil

Goosegrass (what do you call it?)


Goosegrass, cleavers, sticky willie, Galium aparine, bedstraw.

I saw it on the roadside hedge, thought “that stuff is pretty tough when you’re trying to pull it off plants in the garden…”

The dried stems were more than six feet long and easy to pull off the hawthorn. Dozens of adhesive little seeds tranferred themselves to my hat. A car passed and I didn’t catch the driver’s eye.

I walked on up the road, twisting and turning the straw into rope. I tested it for strength and it was good. Ten feet of goosegrass rope to play with!

I kept it for a few days before deciding what to do with it, then stitched this basket with beeswaxed linen thread.

goosegrass basket

I left the last strands of straw free. I like the ‘wind in its hair’ effect.

The basket has a sweet scent, like a warm meadow.