Fife Craft Collaboration legacy

I worked with a great bunch of people on Wednesday at the Centre for  Stewardship Falkland, running a one-day Stitched Basket workshop for the Living Lomonds Landscape Partnership.

It is a year since the Fife Craft Collaboration took place in this same venue and I was very pleased to be sharing some of what I’d learned during that inspiring week last October. I showed the group how I’ve been using traditional North American basket-making techniques and local materials to make baskets/nests/pods, each with its own story. Thanks once again Joan Carrigan for the introduction to waxed thread!

(See Joan’s work at and find out more about Fife Craft Collaboration 2014 at


LLLP baskets

Silver birch, dogwood, willow, broom, soft rush, sycamore stalks, reedmace, lavender, old rope, red campion pods, common reed, sea grasses, Crocosmia leaves, varied threads, lots of beeswax and imagination.

“Apple of My Eye”

Amanda3Amanda1    JuteJudy's    imageLorraine's cone basket

Hope to work with you all again! And thanks to Emily, Lisa and Kelly at the Centre for Stewardship for looking after us.


Rocks, water and old rope

A few weeks ago I visited Elie and Earlsferry with my friend Ruth, for an afternoon’s beach-walking and raking about in the tide-line (rocks + water + old rope = fun!).

Ship's rope             Rope tangle

We harvested a bit of massive ship’s rope made of natural fibre, we’re not sure what. Sisal? Hemp? Jute? Very long and strong fibres anyway. We also collected a lot of polypropylene rope, net and fankled fishing line, to keep it away from birds and animals – and for up-cycling.

We knew there was a word for taking apart old ropes to re-use the fibres but couldn’t remember it. Ruth emailed me later – it’s called “picking oakum”. A job carried out in the past by adults and children in workhouses and jails, and much more unpleasant than what we were doing. The rope they picked apart was covered in tar. The recovered fibres were used for caulking between ships’ planks and decking, to keep them water-tight.


Here’s my first attempt at up-cycling ships’ rope fibres, made for my daughter’s birthday this time:

natural fibre ship's rope, polypropylene rope, baker's twine, beeswax
natural fibre ship’s rope, polypropylene rope, baker’s twine, beeswax

It’s a small basket this one, about 11cm across.

I like the colours. They remind me of something…

Blue-footed booby
Blue-footed booby, photographed by Calum Hendry/Gemma Wadey in Isla de Plata, Ecuador 2011