HERITAGE OF BASKETRY IN THE SOUTH WEST OF ENGLAND

GLOSSARY OF TERMS USED IN WILLOW BASKETRY

BASE
This is the bottom of the basket which in willow basketry is most often made separately before the side stakes are attached to it. It can be round, oval or square.
BASE STICKS/STICKS
These are pieces cut to the required length from the thick (butt) ends of willow rods that are used for the foundation of the base of the basket. They are cut a little longer than the size of the finished base which could be round, oval or square (squarework includes oblong shapes).
Sticks are also cut for lids.
BACK
This refers to the outward, convex curve of a willow rod
BUTT
This is the thick end of the willow rod where it is cut from the stool.
BELLY
This refers to the inward, concave curve of a willow rod
BLUNT/SOFT CORNERS
In squarework, if a basket has two rods that are woven close together but separately to form the corner it is a blunt or soft corner.
BORDER
This is the top edge of the basket. It is woven using the stakes or uprights that rise from the body of the basket that are turned down to make it. There are various weaves that create different patterns and effects.
BOW MARK
The mark left by the handle liners that marks the place that the handle bow should be inserted.
CHASING
This is when two sets of weavers are used simultaneously, they follow each other around the work without ever overtaking each other so that they create a spiral weave. A chasing weave is used when there is an even number of uprights; with some weaves eg randing using only one set of weavers would mean that the weave would work under or over the same upright on each row and would not create the required alternating weave effect.
CRAMMING OFF
This is a method used for completing the border and was commonly used when piece-rate basketw were made in workshops for speed. When the last few rods of the pattern are used, instead of threading them away following the pattern, they are bent and crammed or pushed down next to the appropriate upright.
CRANKING
This is an essential technique used when creating side handles or when very tight turns need to be made with a willow rod, for example when making hinges or latches. The rod is twisted up so that the fibres are slightly separated allowing them to become rope-like and very strong. One end of the rod needs to be held tightly in the weave and both hands are used to ‘crank’ it.
CROSS HANDLE

A handle worked across the top of the basket from side to side, for example in a shopping basket.

CROWN/CROWNING

This is the convex curve formed when making the basket base that adds strength and prevents the basket ‘bottoming out’ when weight is added to it

CUTTING OUT
This is the process of sorting or grading willow rods from a bundle for a basket or baskets. For instance the rods might be divided into those needed for the base (bottom), side stakes, side weaving and handle. This was an essential first task in the workshop when the materials needed for the day would be cut out before weaving work started.
DRAFTING
This refers to the process when willow rods are graded for length.. This is usually done by putting the bundle into a drum sunk into the floor. The rods are pulled out longest first.
ENGLISH RANDING
In this weave each rod weaves around the basket once, usually starting with the butt end. Successive rods are inserted one space to the right and ending also one space to the right, of the previous rod. In this way the weave is built up in a spiral and will look uneven until an equal number of rods to those of the stakes are used.
A RIB RAND: The first two or three strokes are worked over and/or under a varying number of uprights. For example; working over two, under two, over two, followed by the normal under one, over one. This creates a decorative spiral band in the basket.
FITCHING
This weave is used in bands, creating gaps in the sides of the basket. It holds the closely spaced stakes in a vertical or slightly outward flowing position. It creates an openwork effect that is achieved by twisting two rods tightly around each other in the intervals between the uprights so that they grip them very firmly This is done like reverse pairing).  It requires strength and control of the weavers, the position of the hands is crucial and it is not an easy weave to master. It was commonly used on fishing baskets where water needed to drain quickly.
FLOW
This refers to the shape of the basket; how far from the vertical the stakes would flow out towards the top of the basket.
FOOT/FOOT TRACK
This is an extra border worked on the base of the basket once the sides and top are completed. It is done by turning the basket upside down, inserting extra stakes up alongside the uprights and working a rod or plait border. It gives protection to the basket and when the foot wears out it can be replaced, prolonging the life of the basket.
FRENCH RANDING
In this weave a rod is inserted and woven in each space between the uprights (equal numbers of weavers and stakes are required). This is done by inserting each rod to the left of the previous one and then working one stroke to the right.
French randing may be done using doubled weavers to create a different texture, this is sometimes called FRENCH SLEWING.
DOUBLE FRENCH RANDING is sometimes used, it is a way of doubling the number of weavers by working back and forward when inserting the weavers, to create height, whilst retaining the single structure of the French randing weave.
HANDLES
These may be cross handles that go across the top of the basket from side to side, or side handles, generally two, that sit either side of the basket above the border or just under it. SIDE HANDLESmay be woven using two rods, one of which forms a bow or single rod twisted handles. A lid may also have a handle.
HANDLE LINERS
These are temporary thick willow pieces or sticks that have been shaved to a point.  They are inserted into the body weave of the basket during weaving to mark and make space for the handle bow so that this does not distort the shape of the basket when it is inserted.
HANDLE BOW
This is a large heavy rod, sometimes a two year old stick, which is bent into place. It forms a core for the handle weavers to work over.
HINGE
A hinge joins two pieces of weaving, usually the lid to the basket. It is normally made from a cranked rod that is inserted into the body of the basket and wound several times over a stick in the lid and the basket body. Sometimes a gap is woven specially in the lid to accommodate the hinge.
HOOP AND RIB
This is a different basket construction from the usual stake and strand weave. The basket is made using a round or oval hoop and a series of ‘ribs’ that make a framework for the weavers. A hoop construction may also be used to make a round or oval base onto which the stakes may be scallomed. The sides of the basket may then be woven using the normal stake and strand method.
LATCH/HASP
A closing device connecting the lid to the basket, the latch and hasp are usually made from willow rods but leather and metal may be used.
LAYERS
These are the short sticks that are used when making an underfoot base. I.e. they are ‘laid’ in.
LEAGUES
These are rods that are carried up from the base weaving into the sides of the basket for strength. They are generally found only in baskets that are used in agriculture or fishing.
LID OR COVER
This is the lid of the basket. Generally it is constructed using the same method that the basket  base has been made, ie round, oval, square, but the sticks will be much lighter. In a square lid there will usually be one or two more sticks than in the base. A trunk lid overlaps the outside of a square basket and rests on a thick ‘trunk’ wale that has been woven into the side of the basket below the border.
PACKING
Packing is used to build up a specific part of a basket, for instance if a shopping basket is to be higher in the middle than the sides. It is done by working a weaver, or weavers, backwards and forwards over increasing or decreasing numbers of uprights.
PAIRING
This weave is done with two matched weavers that twist over and under the sticks or stakes of the basket. It is a very stable weave that grips the rods and so is useful for making bases. Reverse pairing is when the weave works under and over the upright rather than over and under creating a slightly different effect in the weave. Using pairing and reverse pairing in separate pairs creates chain pairing where an arrowhead design appears. Bands of pairing and reverse pairing are sometimes used when making oval bases to stop them buckling.
PEGGED HANDLE
Short sticks may be driven through the handle bow of the completed handle on each side of the basket under the waling to prevent it from pulling out.
PICKING OFF
The basket is ‘picked off’ at the end when any excess is cut off close to the existing weave. A special picking knife was used for this but now secateurs are usually used for the job.
PLAIT BORDER
This is a decorative border, not as strong as a plain rod border. It can be woven wider or narrower depending on the number of rods involved in the pattern.
PRICKING DOWN
This is when the upright stakes are kinked down at the correct height to make the border. It is usually done with the thumbnail or the point of a knife.
PRICKING UP
This is when the stakes that have been inserted into the basket base are turned up vertically. It is done by pressing down with a bodkin or knife at the point at which the rod is to bend, as close as possible to the base.
RANDING
In this weave a single rod is used at a time in an over one, under one weave.
RAPPING DOWN
This is when the side weave is compacted by beating it down with a rapping iron.  In the workshops light or heavy randing could be specified by the customer, and this would refer to how heavily the weave was compacted and would affect the price.
ROD
This is one stick or piece of willow, of one year’s growth, cut from the willow plant.
ROD/PLAIN BORDER
This is the most commonly used border because it creates a strong top edge to a basket. It may vary in width depending how many rods are used in the pattern; generally from three to six.
SCALLOM
This is a fine, fairly long, tail that is cut on the butt end of the willow rod that will allow the rod to be attached to the base of a basket or lid when a hoop construction is being used.
SIDING/SIDING WEAVE
These are the weaves that create the sides of the basket, usually French or English randing or slewing.
SKEINS
Long fine ribbon-like split willow pieces used for fine work. These are obtained by cleaving or splitting a willow rod into three lengthways using a ‘cleave’, shaving the pith from the inside using a knife or ‘shave’ and then pulling the skein through an ‘upright’ in order to obtain a uniform width.
SLATH
This is the part of the basket base where the sticks are held in place by the first few rows of weaving. ‘Tying in the slath’ is the first part of the process when making a basket.
SLEWING
This weave is very quick to do but is more difficult to control than other weaves. Several weaving rods are used in each stroke. The work builds up quickly and for this reason it was used frequently in piece work. As well as this the tips of the rods cut from the previous completed basket border were used in slewing the sides of the next.
Slewing is an over-one under-one weave. If there are an even number of stakes two separate sets of weavers are required for it to work correctly.  It is done by adding new weavers by the butt end at intervals along the previous rod so that several rods are running in tandem. When adding a new rod at the top a tip will be dropped at the bottom of the weave. A slew generally uses three or four rods at a time but can be done using from two up to seven rods.
SLYPE
This is a slanting cut made on the butt end of the willow rod, it can be done with a single stroke of the knife or two strokes to make a cut with two angles on it. It is used, for example, when inserting the rods into a woven base making it quicker and easier to do.
SQUARE CORNERS
This is a basket construction where heavier corner posts are used forming very definite edges to the work.
STAKE AND STRAND
This refers to a specific type of basket construction; a series of uprights or stakes that is woven over by a lighter set of weavers, the strands.
STALES/UPRIGHTS
These are the long rods that are inserted into the base and turn up to form the sides. They are later bent down at the top to make the border.
STOOL
This is the base of the willow plant, where the rods are cut close to the ground annually, the stool gradually increases in size from year to year. If the rods are cut from a single trunk that is further from the ground this is a known as a pollard.
STROKE
This is one movement of the rod when weaving and indicates direction and how the weave builds up – e. g. one or two strokes to the right.
TIP
This refers to the fine end of the willow rod.
TRAC BORDER
This is a border that might be used on a simple basket or where strength is not such a requirement. It is not wide, ie it does not overhang the basket body and may be made as high or low as required depending on how many strokes are used in the pattern.
UPSETT
The rows of weaving found where the stakes are turned up into the sides of the basket. They establish the flow. This is generally done with a waling weave.
WALING
This weave uses three rods at a time. They twist over and under the stakes to form a strong band. Rows of waling are usually found in the upset and just before the border.
When joining a new set of weavers they are usually added tips to tips or butt ends to butt ends to ensure an even weave.
Occasionally a four rod or even a five rod wale will be worked where strength is required particularly on the starting round of the upsett.

see also

ANATOMY OF A WILLOW BASKET

WILLOW FOR BASKETMAKING AND STRUCTURES

USING BRAMBLES FOR BASKETMAKING

TRADITIONAL WILLOW BASKETS IN THE SOUTH WEST

TOOLS USED IN WILLOW BASKETMAKING