Pine Needle Baskets

I live in pine tree country: my home town sits in the largest stand of Ponderosa pines in the world. I'm also a fidgety person. My hands need to be busy pretty much all the time. I tried teaching myself to crochet; I bought a booklet, yarn and hooks and decided to try making this very cute round afghan. The counting must have been too much for me because I ended up with the biggest yarmulke you've ever seen. It's soft and fuzzy and just the right size for Jack (the one In The Box). Since I'm sure it would be offensive to someone for me to be making yarmulkes for non-humans.... I'm laying off the crochet.

So I decided to try making pine needle baskets. No counting. They smell good. I can sew. And I have pine needles. Oh, boy, do I have pine needles.

The first few were OK. Only mildly laughable. One problem with fallen pine needles in Arizona is just how dry they really get. I had to soak them in water so long before they were pliable, they swelled up like a toad. Which results in a loose basket. No woman wants her basket to be loose.

Then I found synthetic sinew at a local craft store and I picked up a bag full of pine needles from our Montana place. Those needles were pliable without soaking, even the brown ones!

Huge improvement! Here is the first basket made from the Montana pine needles:


Here is one I'm working on right now:





I was thinking that a wine bottle holder made this way would be very cool. I could soak it in water and refrigerate the basket and it would keep the wine nice and cool. Outside of the occasional jab with a pine needle (or my own needle), I've been having a lot fun learning this. Each one gets better. :-) 

What is your hobby?