In 2004 I moved to the Manchester area from the depths of Somerset. Don’t imagine that I hail from Somerset originally, though. Somerset was the place where my late husband had wanted to live and we moved there, as a family, in 1989. I had not realised how deeply I had planted my roots there until fairly recently. It probably feels more like home than the place where I was born – but that doesn’t mean that I am not happy or settled up north. However, occasionally I feel a little nostalgic, and today was one of those days.
Along with several members of my craft group, I attended a basketmaking workshop. You may or may not know that Somerset is an important basketmaking area. Many acres of withies grow on the Somerset Levels. The willow industry makes up a significant part of
the economy and culture of the county.
The withies we used during the workshop today came from Somerset and learning this set me off on my sentimental journey. Several times during the day memories of life in Somerset came to mind – visits to the Levels, watching the willow swaying in the breeze, buying a beautiful shopping basket. A pleasant interlude during and enjoyable workshop.
I haven’t done any basketmaking since I was at school. That one attempt resulted in a small cane basket that splayed out towards the top. Many of you may have similar memories!
I was very pleased to produce a completed basket by the end of today’s workshop, with a little help from Cherry, our teacher, when my neck and arm began complaining!
Cherry had prepared hoops for us so that we could immediately begin on our framed baskets. I had decided that I wanted to produce a very shallow basket, although I did not have a specific use in mind for it. I can hardly believe that that was how it turned out! I was also happy with the colours that I used and the resulting shades on the finished object.
All in all, a successful day: a completed basket in the shape and colours I had hoped for, and a little notstalgic contemplation.