Pine Needle Basket

Project theme:
Tools & Materials
Material List
  • Pine Needles - Long needles work best (8" - 17" long)
  • Optional:

  • Small pine cone, shell, big bead, etc. for the lid handle
  • Beads
Tool list
  • Waxed Imitation sinew (Could use Embroidery floss or Rafia, best to add wax)
  • Tapestry needles
  • Upholstery needles curved (Helps in making smaller projects and hiding thread ends)
  • Needle-nose plyers (Helps to pull through thicker areas)
  • Scissors
  1. Pine needles can be collected year-round. It is the cultural protocol to offer tobacco and say a prayer giving thanks to Mother Earth for the Pine Needles.

  3. Pick the needles from a tree or find good needles off the ground. Look for longer needles, 8 to 17" long.
  4. Wash the needles in soapy water to sanitize and clean the dirt off. Rinse in clean water and lay to dry. Repeat if needed. Spread the Pine needles out where they can dry completely for a day or so.
  5. Sort the Pine needles as to size and discard those that are broken or damaged. Store in a dry place.
  6. To prepare for use: Cover the needles with boiling water in a shallow pan for 20 minutes. Then spread the Pine needles on a towel and pat dry. They are ready to use.
  7. The Process:

  8. To begin your basket: Cut Sinew about 2-3 arm lengths and thread your tapestry needle.
  9. Take 2 or 3 pine needles and tie a knot close to the capped end. Start to stitch the Pine needles, coiling around the knot. Your knot from the Pine needles will be visible inside the basket, so the bottom is flat.
  10. - Hint: I find it easier to work from left to right (I'm right-hand dominant).

  11. Continue stitching and adding the coils around the knot. Keep your stitches close together as you begin. After a couple of coils, you can begin to use a decorative stitch pattern:
  12. Add a new stitch in the middle of each stitch from the previous coil or
  13. Pierce your needle through the middle of each stitch from the previous coil. This forms a pinwheel effect.
  14. As you work your coils outward your Pine needles will get shorter and you will need to add more in. Remove the end cap from the needles and tuck it into the open end of your coil. Make sure you can't see this new addition from the sides. You should remember to add more before you get within 2 inches of the end of your Pine needles on the coil.
  15. Keep stitching and coiling, adding more uncapped Pine needles as needed to keep your coil building around the center of your basket.
  16. Depending on how thick and sturdy you want your basket to be you will add more needles at a time, or add in every 3 to 6 stitches.
  17. When you are ready to start the walls of your basket begin to stack your coils on top of the last layer of coils. You can begin to shape the side walls by rounding them or going straight up.
  18. You will want to keep your basket sturdy and this will depend on your stitching. It is important not to have your stitching too far apart. Each stitch will affect the finished look of your basket.
  19. Stitching:

  20. Using a "V" stitch, using a double stitch as you add your coil or
  21. One stitch in between each stitch of the previous coil or
  22. Pierce each stitch of the previous coil, for the pinwheel effect
  23. Research stitches used in other Pine needle baskets for something new
  24. When you run out of sinew weave the end of the thread back into the basket coils so you can't see it. Then start another length of sinew, start it off by weaving the end into the coils so you can't see where your thread began. The curved needle can come in handy for hiding these ends.
  25. When you come to the end of the basket make stitches side-by-side along the top edge to cover the last inch or so of the raw sharp pine needle edges.
  26. After working on your basket you will want to store it till the next day. Wrap your basket in a damp cloth or paper towel in a plastic bag, you will want it to stay moist. Try not to leave for more than a day or two because it will mold. Otherwise, let it dry and the day before you work with the basket again you want to wrap the basket and the needles and keep damp.
  27. You can dye your Pine needles by soaking in clothing dye for 20 minutes. Follow the instructions.
  28. Basket lids can be made, again working on the flat and adding sides, fitting over the edge of the basket or with a lip on the inside. The lid can be made with a decorative piece on top used to open the basket with a miniature Pinecone, a shell, bead, button, etc.
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