That’s right, I learned how to make a basket. I know those of you from the Low Cuntry are automaticaly going to assume I mean a sweet grass basket. Nope. I am talking about a long leaf pine needle basket. The long leaf pine needle does indeed come from a pine tree. The needle on this tree though is typically longer than the needles from your other pine trees. This makes it ideal to use in basket making.
I am getting ahead of myself though. If you are wondering how this came about. I was pursuing the The Quarterly from our fine Charleston County Park system here that I have mentioned before, when I came across a notice for a basket making class. Since my plans as the next big wedding invitation calligrapher didn’t pan out, I figured could learn how to make baskets and sell my goods like all those ladies who sell their sweet grass baskets along the roads around here. Well, it turns out because I am not Gullah, I cannot sell my baskets on the road without a license (or something like that). Plus, and this is really the larger problem here, while I enjoyed making the basket, I don’t see myself getting up every day and sitting down to make baskets. I am not that patient.
Backing up to the actual class . . . I arrived at the James Island County Park on a rainy weekend morning. There were about fifteen people in attendance. There was one man (besides our instructor, Bob, we will call him – it sounds like a good name) and I was the youngest person in the class by about ten to fifteen years. Instructor Bob got us going with a needle, a few pine needles and some raffia. He showed us how to thread our rafia through our needle and after some additional instruction, we set to work stitching pine needles together.
Before you even ask, no I am not going to detail how to put this basket together. Mostly because I don’t remember exactly how it is done – but I do have a hand out in case I ever want to get baskety again! The other reason is that I am still exhausted from yesterdays exertions concerning bucket nesting and you are probably too after reading it. So, you are safe. For now.
As we stitched Instructor Bob told us the history of the long leaf pine needle tree in the area. He also explained that we can’t just go out and scoop up a bunch of these needles from the forest areas. We have to call and alert the proper authorities. Yeah, don’t remember who they are. He also regaled us with tales of his experience with making baskets at his in-laws house one time. I think his father-in-law was initially a little perplexed at his choice of activities.
On we stitched and our creations took shape. Each very unique, but we all came away with a usable basket that day. Mine sits atop my dresser now where it holds my watch. If you find your self inspired by my basket creation, check out this article. I found it doing a quick search on the internet. There are others out there too. Happy basket making. Be sure to let me know how yours turns out!