A while ago, I say something on YouTube about making rope baskets by sewing coils together on a sewing machine. Many years ago, I made a rag rug from plaited scraps of fabric. I sewed it by hand, and it was a very long and tedious job. It was hard to get the needle through the plaited fabric, and every time I put it down to check, the edges had started to curl upwards, so I had to undo some. That made me cautious, but the baskets do look nice.
I’ve got one of those Yorkshire Airers, that haul up into the ceiling out of the way. Owing to a lack of planning, the pulleys were in the wrong place, causing the rope to wear out in a couple of places. Once that problem was fixed, I’d got about 15 metres of suitable rope, most of which was sound. So I thought I would give it a try. I didn’t bother to cut out the frayed sections, as I thought it might add some character.
The result was this fruit bowl size piece. I wasn’t really planning to make anything in particular, I just wanted to know whether I could do it, and how far the rope would go. I like the basket, but it occurred to me that what I could do with was a yarn bowl, to keep balls under control while I’m warping the loom.
So I got some more rope, and built up the sides. I made the openings by finishing off the stitching, then leaving a small loop before starting to stitch again about an inch or two further on. To try to keep the top edge level, once I had sewn round to the hole again, I cut the rope, and restarted again on the other side of the hole. That worked nicely. The addition to the original basket took 20 meteres of washing line. The whole thing is about 8 inches wide and 7 1/2 inches high.
Then I decided that it would be useful to have a really big basket, to hold all the bits and pieces for a project. This one is made from 100 metres of jute sash cord. I made the base about 16 inches in diameter, and then started moving upwards. When I thought I may get to the end fairly soon. I made some handles. This time, before I finished off sewing, I wrapped a piece of calico under the rope to give the handle some strength, rather than just relying on the thread. I left a loop of rope again, before starting to sew on the other side, with more calico to support the join. This enlarges the circumference of the top by the amount of the two handles. I went round the whole of the top again, including the handle loops, before repeating the gap procedure to return the top to the previous circumference. This makes handles that stick outwards, rather than the upwards ones shown on the video. I then carried on up the sides of the basket until I had used up all the sash cord. The result was about 16 inches high.
So what have I learned? For one thing, you need a lot of thread to zig zag these baskets together. And you have to be in the right mood. The work is either pleasantly absorbing or mind numbingly boring, depending on how you look at it. The hardest part was placing the handles. I didn’t manage to get mine opposite eachother, in spite of measuring several times. Oh well. I wanted a working item rather than something for display.