This weekend I would like to share two things… A traditional coiled basket project and Ben’s big boat race.
Let’s start with Ben and his cub scout “rain-gutter regatta”. By the way isn’t that a mouth full… “rain-gutter regatta”… couldn’t they just call it boat race? Ben got a kit and put a boat together for this race. For these types of projects, I tend to let my kids do what ever they want and give just a little bit of advice with minimal help. This way it is their project and not mine. This is my thinking anyway. A couple other fathers at this event share my approach (maybe we are just lazy?) while others are “very” involved. I heard discussions on the best way to build this or attach that… and even coaching on exactly how to blow the boat. (I didn’t even know that there was a technique to blowing your boat down the gutter). Poor Ben, the only real advice I gave him is that it was too late to paint his boat with real paint. (we started 2 hours before the race)
I told him to steal some of Gwen’s fingernail polish. You can see that he wasn’t shy about the colors he used… nor really careful in the application of the polish. While his boat smelled horrible the “paint” was dry and “water” ready and I liked the watermelon feel of his boat.
OH Ya… You can also see that according to the experts his sail was upside down so he had to switch it around which made his name upside down. I told him he could leave it as it was but he caught the “I want to win” bug while looking at the awesome trophies and followed the “experts” advice.
For those who have never been to an event like this it all begins with a grown man dressed up like a “boy scout” (not that there is anything wrong with that… ) telling the boys all the complex rules and explaining what dual elimination meant. I predicted this to mean that Ben would have at least two races.
Here is a poorly filmed race with Ben and another boy. I can’t believe I got so caught up in the race that I missed filming the ending. If you can’t tell he lost this race… and unfortunately he lost the second one as well. He was very disappointed and teared up a bit. I briefly wondered if I was “slacking” as a parent by not trying harder to help him win.
You can’t succeed if you don’t know what losing is.
– Garth Brooks
I thought about it a bit and in a way I am glad he lost and I must admit that I am the kind of dad that teaches his boys to lose… (oh that sounds bad)
Winning is important but knowing how to gracefully lose is just as important. I pulled him aside and told him I was proud of him, that he had done his best which is all I could ever ask for. I watched him later that evening comfort another boy who was upset because he had lost a race. This was a huge proud dad moment.
When we left Ben informed me that they would be having car races next and that we “had” to win at that… oh the pressure… and what happened to my “do your best speech”. I said we will do our best and he reassured me stating that we could watch lots of YouTube videos so “this” time we would know what we were doing.
Part Two! (can’t think of a better transition…)
Now I want to share with everyone my weekend BASKET PROJECT! This project was special… Isabelle for the first time in all of these years and with all of my various “projects” said she wanted to do it with me! (this means that anything that doesn’t work will be her fault…)
Here is some back story…
While in southern Utah this year I saw a traditional basket weaving kit at one of the National Park’s tourist store and I decided that I wanted to know how to weave a basket. I purchased the kit… not at the park but over the internet… much cheaper.
My brother owns several native american baskets and I have always admired these works of art. There is something special about gathering natural materials and creating utilitarian objects that are also beautiful.
Back to my project… Here is a link to the kit I purchased Traditional Craft Kits
The kit is fairly basic but it is nice to have instructions and the right amount of materials. (two needles, raffia, and fiber rush). I do not think I would ever buy a kit again but “gather” my own materials… I feel like I “cheated” a bit.
I read through the instructions and laughed a bit when it stated that the basket would take 4 – 6 hours… I was thinking “is that all”… the instructions stated that while they knew that this was “long” it would be worth it. Hmm… My timeline expectations have really been skewed… I blame cheese making… i.e. 1 year to see if my Parmesan worked.
Here are the step by step instructions:
Thread the needle with the raffia (Wider end… After fighting with this a bit, I decided to soak the raffia in water a bit before using it… it becomes much easier to work with)
Bend the fiber rush end, about 1/4 of and inch, and tie the tail end of the raffia to the bend.
Wrap the raffia around the rush bend folding it over onto itself and continue wrapping it until it is fully covered and you have gone up the non folded part another 1/4 of an inch.
Bend the rush around and make the first stitch in between the bent rush near end of the rush. (This might be a bit difficult depending upon how tightly it was woven and you will probably need to wiggle the needle. I found that you have to not fight it but let the needle find its own way… if that make sense)
Continually stitching and coiling the rush around. You will need to make extra stitches in the corners and make sure the raffia is not twisted.
Keep coiling until the bottom is about 2 inches in diameter and then add another rush. You do this once you are back to the same place you started. Insert another rush and stitch until you have made one full circle. (I cut the rush end into a point which made it easier)
Add the third rush as you did the second one. The third rush will sit on top of the two others making a type of triangle towards you. Probably the hardest part of this entire project is making sure the rushes don’t twist as you stitch them around. (By this time you have probably run out of raffia. You add more by leaving about 2 inches of the tail and starting the new one in the last hole of your previous raffia. You will stitch around the tail as if it were another rush.. hiding it into the basket. )
I did all of the work so far and once I got the three started I handed off to Isabelle.
Isabelle only made it twice around and then decided she would do it later. I knew this meant that I would be left to complete it… I was still happy that this was made by both of our hands.
Next you need to pick your pattern (if working with multi colors) and the shape of your basket. I wanted a simple bowl and while the book had many traditional patterns I picked a simple stepped pattern starting with 4 blocks. (I would recommending a small search for these patterns if you don’t have a kit and also reading about the significance of the pattern… )
Here you see me adding the black raffia. I decided before the steps I would create a black line around the bottom.
You begin creating the shape of your bowl by moving up or down the rushes as you stitch around.
Work until your design is complete, you’re out of materials, or you are tired of doing this. I ran out of materials… honestly. (You should end where you began so that your object is symmetric)
Here are the final pictures:
My kids said it looked like a hat when I put it upside down… can’t tell if they were mocking me or serious.
Thanks for taking the time to read this…