To get started, you will need some cattails, gathered in late summer, before they get brown tips. Separate the leaves, and air dry in a shady place to retain the greenness (although that will eventually fade). I soaked the mid-sections of the leaves in a sink full of water, weighing down the bunch with another pan full of water. You can use the lower section to make a tougher basket. It only takes about 15 minutes to soak them. Then you can place them in a wrung out wet towel on your table, to pick through as you need them. I also used scissors, a spray bottle, pins and a chunk of Styrofoam as a form around which the leaves were woven.
Start by peeling the outside thin bits off the outsides of the soaked leaves. Arrange them across the bottom of the Styrofoam block (north-south). Then start weaving the east-west leaves, pinning them to keep them tight. Keep spritzing to keep them from drying out. Once the bottom is covered, bend up the sides to form the uprights. The first side leaf is trickiest, but start with an "inny" and weave it all the way around until you overlap that end by two or three uprights. Cut the ends to hide them in the uprights. This basket used four leaves for the sides. Start each one on a different side to balance the ends where it will be weakest.
Top Edge: You will notice which of the uprights need to bend in and which go out to maintain the weave pattern. You can cut them at an angle to stick out and be noticed or hide them and cut them straight, as you wish. Once the Styrofoam block is out, the tucking in of the ends is easier, but sometimes you will need the aid of a knife or crochet hook to make room to stuff it in and our again. You can pull it too and make sure the top edge is even. Keep spritzing with water to make the leaves pliable 'til you're done.
Here it is, all finished! (And I finally figured out how to add text to a picture!). I'm thinking I would like to make a bunch of these and use them as soap forms ... maybe the soap bar would end up looking like a basket! I just hope it would come out of the form easily!
We are so lucky to have so many willing and ABLE bodies to help us out. This weekend is the Alberta Society of Fiddlers winter camp at He Ho Ha and right after that Rigel and I will be heading down to Belize, with Marten and Kevin following two weeks later. And we have so many farm sitters that I just know I'm leaving things in great hands. Here is the chore list I sent them:
Farm Sitting Instructions for Good Note
Cows: Xixi and Yodel are the only ones here and they both need their hay feeder filled twice a day from the large round bale; Once before 10:00 am and once again at night at the same approx. time. If there is not much of that bale left and you can lift it, you can put the whole thing into their feeder. You can either roll in a small bale by hand, or use the tractor to roll in one of the big ones.
Clean up any larger loose plops, using the pitch fork, and onto the manure pile about once or twice a week. You can use either the wheelbarrow or the blue sled, depending on snow/ice. Add straw from under the white tarp, as needed.
Goats: Fill their hay feeder at the same time as cows. You can add straw to their bedding as needed. Keep your eyes on the waterer and make sure it is filling or that it isn’t empty at least. Both cows and goats need access to water.
Chickens: Clean waterer by dumping it out on the manure pile to west of coop door. Then refill using bucket and outside pump. Open pump slowly so as to not shock pipes in the house.
Fill self feeders every three days or so from grain bin north of coop. Give them one can of sunflower seeds (half inside and half in greenhouse), located in green barrel close to chicken coop door. There should also be oyster shell and grit in the other compartments. If these need filling, the extra is in the green barrel, under the sunflower seeds. Try collecting eggs twice in the morning to reduce losses due to egg eaters and keep them clean. You can use the black basket in the bathroom to collect and after washing them they can dry in the stainless basket to left of sink. There are cartons under the sink, and you can either eat them all or give them away to your friends.
Dogs: Bins of food are in the garage, just left, inside the door. Lady’s bowl is blue and Loki’s is Stainless steel. They each get one yogurt container and Lady gets hers sprinkled with half a tsp. of Glucosamine powder. She doesn’t like it, so make sure she doesn’t give up on hers and go after Loki’s. The powder is in the house in the bathroom. Lady likes to lay down while eating, so once she is down she’s likely to stay and finish. Let them in the house when it is colder than minus 5. And every night as their barking upsets the neighbours (not to mention Kevin!)
Cat: Tootles stays outside and his bowl is filled about once every three days or so. It is in the future cheese room as is his heated box. He helps himself to water from the livestock waterer.