I remember well the first time my mother and I made quilts together. We had each decided on a different pattern and were just starting to choose our colors from the amazing assortment of fabrics that my mother had collected over the years. She had sorted the fabrics by color and neatly folded and packed them in several labeled boxes. We always loved working on projects together but I had been somewhat hesitant to make something as large as a quilt because I really do not enjoy hand sewing… but I do love color and texture and design… That day the more pieces I unpacked the more enthused I became about making the quilt and I was totally involved in putting colors together… when I suddenly “felt” a great silence in the room. I can still remember my mother staring at me with the most gentle and loving… but completely incredulous… look on her face. Only then did I see that, in my enthusiasm, I had unpacked and unfolded practically every piece of her fabric. My mother thought the whole thing was hilarious.

Obviously nothing much has changed and my creative chaos that has become such a family joke over the years is still alive and well. I spent an hour this morning before anyone else was awake finishing this gigantic basket I have been weaving. Whenever I make a basket, I always start by carefully laying out all of my tools and organizing the coils of reed according to their widths, and I make sure I have a big container nearby to throw my clippings in. And for a while I’m very conscientious about keeping everything in order as I work.

Years ago I realized that perhaps creative chaos is a stronger compulsion for me than it is for most people. I try to fight this “character trait”… I really do… because I like “things” to be… and to stay… neat. But somehow I still always eventually turn into an absolute slob when I become completely engrossed in the thing I am creating. Today was no exception… when I came up for air and looked around, somehow clippings, masses of uncoiled reed, and scattered tools were EVERYWHERE.

But I thought the basket turned out well!!!

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What a touching story! You have a wonderful talent–I love the basket.


What a beautiful basket! You have such an interesting blog. I love it!


What a beautiful basket! You are so talented ;)


You are a lot more creative than me! I also have a few creative outlets that keep me sane while in the trenches of mommyhood. Thanks for the reminder that they are important!!

Debs V.

That basket is amazing! I love your blog.


Wow!! What a beautiful basket!

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Thanks! I made this basket because I needed something really big to keep my current knitting project in (a quilt-sized cable afghan).


Simply beautiful and a real Mommy made piece of art!


What a coincidence! I make baskets, too, and weave chair seats. I just finished repairing two chairs and the mess is still all over my keeping room, which is also the “living” room. I’ve picked up the coils, but everything else is still littering the floor.

BTW, your basket is beautiful. I’m not yet up to your level.


Oh Shirley, reading your blog is so much fun! I found it while looking for different ways to freeze the abundance of apples we have this year, for use in baking pies later on this winter. Your idea of freezing them right in the foil, formed by the pie plate was a terrific idea.

Then I started reading some of your other blog posts and was hooked! Now it’s been about an hour and I HAVE to get back to weaving my own antler baskets and finishing up on a customer’s cane chair. Loved your blog about the grapevine baskets, too.


Beautiful basket!


What a beautiful basket! Its one craft I never learned.
You do lovely work.


I just stumbled across your website, and am so glad I did. I can relate to so many of your posts. I heat with wood, and I do have a wood cooking stove. However, it’s not in working condition, but only paid $200.00 for it. I make herbal soaps from wild plants that I gather on our farm. Make baskets from willow, grapevine, and commercial reed. I also love to teach others about the old timey ways of living.


That’s a grand looking basket! How big is it?

Re: creative mess – I know what you mean about trying to keep it tidy and clean as I go to save me the larger clean up at the end, which can be a huge buzz killer, but always giving it up as a bad job! Happens with everything too, including when I write even though that doesn’t need much more than my computer and maybe a pen and piece of notepaper!

But the most interesting part that I notice whenever I’m making something, or even just doing a project involving a lot of sorting things etc, is what we could call ‘rug creep’ lol (because I often get down on the floor to do those jobs). Basically, I start out at one end of the rug, or at least in the middle. But at each new stage of the project (eg measuring, then cutting, then glueing, then decorating, etc), I seem to move backwards a wee bit until soon enough I find myself cornered at the very edge of the carpet with the debris from all previous stages lying in front of me marking a path to where I started out! The oddest thing is that I am completely unconscious of doing this until my bottom hits the cold carpetless floor hehe.

Am I the only one who does dorky stuff like that lol?


Beautiful basket! I’m a fellow basketmaker and always others work. I try to confine my basket messes outside but it doesn’t always work. I love your blog it reminds me of childhood, gardening, animals, cooking on a woodstove, I probably have forgotten how by now. Things do taste different when cooked on woodstoves.


OH my! I am the same way. I lay it all out, get the pattern in my mind, then “go to town”. It’s when I can’t get one piece of reed out of the coil, and I have the majority of the coil around my neck…with the ends under an outstretched foot, while my hands are gently pulling the reed out of the mess. I’m a bit up to my elbows in creating. Love your site, just found it. Thanks, Dee from Colorado