I went to Carol’s house on Friday, May 7th and stayed overnight so we could have weaving time together on both days. Our goals—to analyze even more specifically the changes Carol needs to make in order to improve the quality of her weaving so it will be smoother and have a more uniform look ... and to begin thinking about the feather work itself.
Carol Bachmann weaving. Photo by Linda Yamane
These are the things we identified:
1) When trimming sedge strands for weaving, give special attention to thickness, being sure to trim them evenly.
2) When weaving, pull stitches more tightly, holding the foundation rods down and in place beneath the new stitch.
3) When weaving, pay particular attention to the spacing of the stitches, not leaving too much distance between stitches and making sure they are uniformly spaced.
4) Don’t allow stitches to slant. Instead, add a double stitch to increase the number of stitches in the row. As much as possible, strive for stitches to be placed at a 90-degree angle from the foundation.
5) To study photos of feathered baskets to begin understanding the dynamics of feather weaving, begin thinking about what feathers she’ll use in her basket, and how she’ll pattern it.
Once our goals were identified, we sat together and worked. Carol first concentrated on preparing sedge strands for weaving, while I concentrated on weaving the sedge I had prepared earlier. From time to time, Carol handed me her sedge piece and asked if it was trimmed even enough or needed more work.
Linda Yamane's basket start and tools. Photo by Arianna Garibay
Beyond giving specific advice, the valuable thing about weaving together is being able to SEE what the other person is doing. On Saturday, when Carol began weaving and I advised her to be more aware of how and where she placed her stitches, being sure they weren’t slanting, she said she had noticed how I lay my sedge in place and hold it there as I make the hole with my awl and finish the stitch. Living far apart, and each working full time in the past, we were never able to spend much time together working on coiled basketry. Now, after all these years, Carol’s feeling excited about learning these little, but vitally important, things that will improve the overall quality of her work tremendously.
Carol's hands weaving. Photo by Linda Yamane
Before leaving home on Friday morning, I had cut willow shoots from my yard to take to Carol, because she is running very short on materials. We were so busy during the afternoon that we had forgotten about the willows, but I remembered in the evening, just about the time Carol was burning out on cleaning sedge. When I reminded her of the willows that were waiting to be peeled, she jumped enthusiastically at the change of pace and spent the next hour or two removing the bark from each stick. The result was a nice little bundle of willow sticks that will now have to dry for a few months, but will eventually become part of either this basket or another.
On Saturday morning, we got right to work. This time Carol was primarily weaving and I was both preparing sedge and weaving. She would weave a bit, then ask me to critique her stitches. Once, while she was cleaning more sedge, I decided to weave a couple of sedge strands into her basket in order to identify what was different about our weaving habits. That’s when I realized that her stitches are too loose and shift out of position because of it. It will be valuable for her to compare her stitches against mine as she continues working on the basket. It will be a measuring stick of sorts.
In the early afternoon, we shifted our attention to two binders I had brought with me that hold photos of feathered baskets I have visited and photographed at the Smithsonian, American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and on my recent trip to Europe. We looked at them, one by one, comparing and noting particular features, both similar and different. We also discussed different possibilities for her basket, and those possibilities can begin to evolve in Carol's thoughts while she’s still in the early weaving stage of her basket. Then, when the time comes, she’ll be ready to decide what she wants to do with her very own, first feathered basket!
Carol & Linda studying basket photos & feathers. Photo by Arianna Garibay