Last week was a difficult one for us. We lost someone very dear to us and Matt had to take two ferries and drive over 800 miles all the way back down to Cornwall, to attend the funeral and support his family. So we found ourselves separated by sea and the length of the British Isles at a time when we really needed to be together.
I tackled the week in the way that I usually deal with difficult times, by throwing myself into absorbing projects and pushing through.
I had hoped to spend a great deal of the time in the garden, clearing the site on our wild land for our polytunnel and turning our small walled garden into a kitchen garden, filled with beds for our veggies. Unfortunately, we didn’t experience the heat wave that most of the Uk was bathed in, instead we had a week that was mostly filled with rain and strong winds.
Busy with our kids during the day, my attention in the early mornings and evenings turned instead to carrying on with my adventures in basket making.
I completed another raffia coil basket to sell in my Folksy shop. This time I wanted to shape it like a bottle, as I thought that it would make a great stem vase for dried flowers. With its bold colour stripes, it makes a real statement and I was really pleased with how it turned out.
I also made some more cordage (which I find both therapeutic and satisfying). The first was made with some New Zealand flax which came from our neighbours garden. He had been retting it for a while and although it still needs some more time to break down properly, there were some leaves that were ready to have their fibres separated.
The colour of this flax is quite wonderful, a mellow brown with strands that shine like bright copper. It was lovely to work with and I am hoping to finish the retting process so that I can use more of it.
I think that I will add it to the list of plants to get for our garden, as it makes a great windbreak as well as being useful for basket making.
The second batch of cordage that I made was quite different in contrast. I was packing up an order from my Folksy shop for a lovely customer in America and I wanted something a bit special to tie it all up. I decided to have a go at making cordage with some of the bright raffia that I have been working with, to make a sort of rainbow cord. It worked really well and was just what I needed.
Once that was safely in the post I picked up a little basketry project that I had already started, making a tiny basket from common rush. I was so taken with the colour of the flax that I decided to use some for the twined portion of this miniature basket.
It was incredibly fiddly working on such a small scale and there were quite a few cross words and a great deal of ridiculous face pulling, as I struggled to start working up the sides.
I started over several times and then suddenly found my rhythm. At that point I started to enjoy the work and relaxed into it. I kept the top simple because I haven’t had to time to work on borders yet, but I was very happy with the result. It is so nice to be working with plants that grow just outside our house and that I have cut and dried myself.
I really like the colours of this tiny basket and I am glad that I added just a hint of red with a single raffia strand.
I made this one for our youngest daughter, Wren, who loves playing with some little wooden peg people that were also homemade. She plays with them everyday and likes to pretend that they are going off in the tractor or little boat to gather supplies. I thought that a miniature basket would be the perfect addition to her little imaginary world and she was delighted when she found it all set up for her the next day.
There was a short break in the awful weather, so I spent a couple of days working in the garden, clearing ground and starting a huge amount of autumn/winter greens seeds to fill it up. I love the time that I spend outdoors here, with the smell of the sea air, listening to the myriad of bird calls and with a fresh breeze filling me with energy. Sadly the dry weather was short lived, so I was soon back to basketry.
With Matt due back the next day and a busy day spent doing homeschool with our kids, my brain was rather tired and distracted and I couldn’t settle to making a basket.
Instead I started to play around with the coiling that I had started and wondered if I could make a little snail. I was pleased to find that I could indeed manipulate the coiling to make different shapes and soon had a little snail decoration. I want to play around with this idea some more and make a range of hanging decorations using different techniques and fibres.
For now though Matt is home and we feel complete again, now that we are all safely back together in our island home.