Katherine’s willow basket was selected Grand Champion of the 2010 Puyallup Fair in the professional basketry category of the home arts competitive exhibits. The Puyallup Fair (officially the Western Washington Fair) draws over a million visitors every year and is the largest attraction held annually in Washington State. This basket is titled “Harvesting the Skagit”. Katherine originally made this basket for an exhibit called “Paint Me a River!” which was staged by the Skagit Historical Museum last winter. Katherine is pleased to receive this award for the second year. She won the 2009 Grand Champion ribbon at the Fair for the basket “Nana Queen”.
Have you checked out the NBO’s website? The organization has a new look after celebrating ten years as a non-profit promoting basketry. The website has been updated and one of the features is an extensive calendar of events. Susi Nuss of Basketmakers.com is a new board member of the NBO and she has been bringing her extensive internet networking to work on the events listing. The group states its mission as promoting the art, skill, heritage, and education of traditional and contemporary basketry. Members receive the quarterly newsletter which always profiles artisans working in basketry. Katherine recently renewed her membership. But anyone can visit the website and keep up to date on workshops, conferences and basketry events across the country; as well as enjoy the gallery of basket photos.
February 1 is celebrated as Saint Brigid’s Day in Ireland. It is also the Celtic celebration of Imbolc, the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Some people consider it the beginning of spring. Like many holidays, the Pagan and Christian myths have mixed over the years. Brigid was a goddess of the Pagans who considered her the goddess of healing, inspiration, and craftsmanship. It is said that Saint Brigid was named after her. Brigid of Kildare became one of Ireland’s patron saints.
There is a legend that she made a cross from rushes she found on the ground to convert a dying man to Christianity. Some say that the cross represents the cycles of nature, and was a way for the Celts to keep the traditions of their ancestors alive while being forced to convert to the new religion. Regardless of the truth, these Saint Brigid’s crosses woven from rushes or straw became a popular symbol in homes. Each year on February 1, people would weave a new cross to hang in their house above the door or in the rafters to protect the home from fire and disease. The ritual also involved burning the previous year’s cross.
Katherine made the Saint Brigid’s cross in the photo for our house today with some small willow pieces. I found a youtube video of an Irish woman demonstrating how to make one from rushes here.
Katherine Lewis will be teaching a two day “Introduction to fitching” class at the Northwest Basket Weavers Guild annual Spring retreat. The dates for next year’s retreat are March 24 – 28, 2010. Katherine’s class will be offered on Thursday and Friday, March 25 & 26 with a limit of ten students. So if you’re interested, you’ll need to keep an eye out for the retreat brochure. By the way, you have to be a member of the group to attend. All the info is at their website.
In the class, students will weave a solid base on a hoop frame, and then scallom on half the stakes and bye-stake the rest into the waling. This will allow enough stakes to learn fitching without spending all day scalloming! We’ll fitch around the basket twice; giving weavers plenty of practice learning this technique. The basket is finished with more waling, a 5-rod border and handle to make a beautiful oval shopper. Everyone will leave with a finished basket because Katherine plans her class time so that all students are able to finish the project in class. However this class is only recommended for weavers with experience with willow.