How to Weave a Basket

Native basket-weaving typically begins with the collection of materials. Spruce root is the most common and most important component of Tlingit baskets. Various grasses and ferns are collected and dyed, and are used produce the intricate geometric designs that decorate the spruce baskets.

Here is a short video of a student demonstrating how to weave a basket, with a brief explanation of the process.


Warp: the vertical plastic strands

Weft: the horizontal yarn strands

The vertical warps of the plastic cup should always have an even number. 25 would not work. Cut the plastic cup in half and then cut the halves in half and so on, so the maker should have some power of 2 number of vertical warps (for example, 21=2, 22=4, 23=8, 24=16, 25=32, etc.)

There are two strands (wefts) of yarn that are woven around the plastic wefts in a horizontal direction. To weave, fold the yarn in half and place the folded end over one plastic warp. The two yarn strands should hang down outside the cup-- one on each side of the plastic warp. Then take the left one and wrap it around the front of the plastic warp and then between the right side and around the back of the right plastic warp, and pull it through the right side of the right plastic warp. Repeat with the leftmost strand. The weave is horizontal but it slants slightly upward from left to right.

To make the weave slant downward from left to right the weaver has to hold the right strand up to pull the left strand around the front and between the right split and around the back. Then, the stand is under the right strand at the split.

(Video clip courtesy of Lori Hoover. Explanation, slightly modified, courtesy of Claudette Engblom-Bradley)