What is Basket Weaving?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus
Native Americans are commonly associated with basket weaving.
Native Americans are commonly associated with basket weaving.

Basket weaving is the hand-crafted method of creating woven baskets from natural grasses. Basket weavers have been making a variety of handmade baskets from a wide array of grass types for thousands of years. Native Americans are one of the peoples highly associated with the craft of basket weaving. Native American woven basket patterns are beautifully detailed and the exact colors and styles vary among each regional area and tribe. Basket weavers use many variations of several basic techniques that include coiling, twining, plaiting, and weaving to create endless varieties of baskets.

Weaving refers to the method of creating spokes out of one material and inserting different strands called weavers one at a time under and over each spoke to form a more solid woven piece. Plaiting uses the same technique as weaving except the spokes and weavers are of the same material. Twining uses two weavers and creates a double under and over twisted look to a basket. If three weavers are used in twining basket weaving, it creates a triple twist method called waling. Coiling starts the center bottom of a basket and it's an oval or round section worked in circular stitches.

Basket weaving supplies including natural grass materials and books on how to weave a basket are available at many craft stores. Once simple, plain types of baskets are mastered, basket weavers can try weaving baskets with handles or use different colored natural materials to create interesting patterns and designs. Crafters experienced at basket weaving can create nesting baskets, which are sets of several baskets of the same shape but different sizes that fit into one another.

Different textured natural materials such as bamboo, willow and long pine needles can be used to create baskets with varied and appealing textures. Using different widths of grasses creates new looks and natural weaving materials may be flat or round. The same basic basket weaving techniques can be used to create tiny baskets for wedding favors or huge baskets for carrying laundry.

Traditionally, the materials used for basket weaving depended on the region and what types of grasses grew there naturally. The colors used also reflected a specific geographical area since natural plant dyes were used to color the weaving grasses. In many parts of the world, people make and sell hand-woven baskets.

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Discussion Comments


I watched a basket weaving demonstration year ago when I was visiting a place called Silver Dollar City. I would love to learn how to do wicker basket weaving. I use baskets for many things from being decorative to practical things like storing magazines.

I also have some wicker furniture in my sun room, and would love to make some special wicker baskets to go in that room. There is something satisfying about making a unique product for yourself to put in a special place in your home.

Once I got the hang of it, I think they would also make great gifts for family and friends.


I have always been intrigued by basket weaving and all the different patterns and sizes of baskets that can be made. There is a center near my home that replicates what it was like living years ago on the farm. You can tour this place to see what it was like to make and grow most of what you needed to live on.

They offer classes throughout the year, and the basket weaving class is always one that I have been interested in signing up for.

I figure the easiest way for me to learn basket weaving is to sit down with somebody who is doing it and copy what they are doing. I don't think this would be something that would be easy to learn just by looking at a book or reading about it online.

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    • Native Americans are commonly associated with basket weaving.
      Native Americans are commonly associated with basket weaving.