Cord Wrapping Tutorial

Basket-weaving is one of the oldest known Native American crafts, there are ancient Indian baskets from the Southwest that have been identified by archaeologists as nearly 8000 years old.


Wraping Rope Technique

This is a contemporary version of the ancient art of Basket Making. The traditional method of basket weaving is both time-consuming and intricate. The Indian continuous coil basket involves collecting, soaking, and preparing reed, willow, bark, and other materials before the actual weaving work begins. This method is a simple matter of wrapping yarn around a core of rope to achive the desired texture.

Materials: For warp (the cord you will wrap the yarn around) you can use almost any kind of sturdy but flexible cord such as jute, upholstery cord, clothesline, or thin rope . The amount you will need varies according to the thickness of the cord and desired size of basket.

You can use almost any kind of yarn to wrap around warp. Heavier yarns such as multipurpose craft or rug yarns work up quickly. Knitting worsted yields a softer, fuzzier texture. You may want to experiment before tackling a basket. The yarn requirements also vary according to .the desired size of the basket, the type of yarn used, and the number of colors required for the design.

Select a blunt tapestry needle with an eye large enough to accommodate the yarn you are using.

Charting the design: First, determine what shape and size basket you want your basket to be. Usually, a low round basket is about four inches across the base, eight inches in the center at its widest point, and four inches high. To make your pattern, mark off the desired dimensions on graph paper, and draw in the shape you want . Decide on a design and color combinations, then chart it on the graph paper basket outline. If cord measures 14 inch in diameter, then one coil will be represented by one row of squares.

Starting the coil:

1. Taper the end of the warp cord. You can leave it in a coil or a heap on the floor be­ side you, pulling it out as you wrap. Cut a thirty- to thirty-six-inch length of yarn and thread one end into a tapestry needle. Begin wrapping the other end (opposite needle) around the warp cord two inches from the end, overlapping the first wind to anchor it. Wrap to about 1/2 inch from tapered end of warp cord.

2. Bend the warp cord, then pull the yarn through the center opening, using the needle end. Hold the tapered end and begin forming a loop, wrapping the cord tightly.

3. Wrap until the tapered end is secured and firmly anchored to the warp cord. Push the needle through the center of the the loop.

4. Bend to form a coil and, using the needle end, push the yarn between the warp cord, wrapping from front to back.

5. Begin working the figure eight stitch between the coils, as shown, Wrap the yarn around the warp cord several times using the needle to push the yarn through the coil underneath and up and around to form a figure eight. Wrap very tightly. The more figure eights you make, the tighter your finished basket will be. For larger warp, such as 1/2-inch-diameter cord, you can wrap longer distances, spacing your figure eights up to 1/2 inch apart. If you begin to see gaps between the coils, then you should try to make more figure eights and place them closer to­ gether, if possible.

Adding new yarn when changing colors:

Wrap until only a few inches of the original yarn, piece remains. Position this "tail" along the warp cord and hold it tightly in place. Cut another length of yarn, thread it, and place the end opposite the needle on to the warp along the side of the tail. Hold both firmly in your left hand and wrap with your right hand.

Continue wrapping and making figure eights as usual. The tail ends will be covered by the wrapping. Use same technique for changing colors. If you are working on a section of the design where colors intermingle, or are only a short distance apart, carry both colors of yarn "along the warp" by holding the color not in use in your left hand and wrapping the color in use over it.

To change to the other color, reverse the process. However, if there are long in­ tervals between colors, you will save yarn by clipping off the yarn of the color not in use and bringing it back in later as needed.

Placing the design: You can start your de­ sign on any side of the basket you choose but wherever you start will become the front. If you plan to have a design on the other side, start it directly opposite the design on the front. This will give you evenly center.ed front and back designs. You will be putting in the design from the bottom toward the top.

Follow your graph paper design or your drawing.

Shaping the coil: While you are wrapping and putting in the design, you will also need to be shaping the basket. To make straight sides, place the coils directly over each other. For sides that curve inward or outward, place top coil a little inside or outside previous coil. This will require a bit of experimentation until you've com­ pleted several different shaped baskets and can see the shapes you have produced. When starting the sides, keep the coiled base facing away from you, so that you are working on the near outside of the form at this stage.

Ending off: When you have come to the top of your basket and want to end it off, cut the warp so it extends several inches be yond your wrapping. Taper the end of the warp so it gradually decreases in size and blends into the previous coil. Wrap the tapered end until it is completely covered and then make several extra winds around it and the previous coil with the needle end to be sure you anchor the wrapping in place permanently.

Finally, run the needle back through an inch or so of the wrapped yarn; clip off excess ends and adjust so the tail is completely covered

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