Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sparky Learns Something New

Sarasota, FL        High:              Low:

Sparky met up with one of the ladies in the park, Jean, who has been making pine needle and reed baskets for over 28 years. Jean told Sparky she has over 100 baskets in the living room of her house back in Michigan! Must be a BIG living room! Sparky wanted to get some tips from an expert basket maker and see maybe how to do something different on her next basket. Jean had MANY baskets in her fifth wheel and all were amazing and wonderful to see. She had basket bottoms using agates---cool!

She had basket bottoms with a weaving stitch called teneriffe. This photo is from the web, and it's a very elaborately woven teneriffe basket bottom. Jean's were much simpler, just a little woven design at the bottom of the basket. Sparky's photo of her beautiful basket didn't turn out.

She got to talking about her teaching career, and Sparky and Jean exchanged stories and events from their lives while kibitzing over baskets. Sparky didn't learn any new stitches today, but she DID learn that the way she's been stitching her first three baskets is a lot harder than it has to be. Sparky always does things the hard way, never the easy way...sigh....That's what happens when you are pretty much self taught. You might develop some bad habits.

Some of Jean's baskets....This one has a metal jewelry piece for a bottom starter...
This one had a PERFECTLY fitted lid....
This is one of Jean's reed baskets...
She has made many many Nantucket baskets over the years as well. A Nantucket basket is a specific style of basket. Sparky is always in awe of people who are talented at their craft and she hopes she will get to be a better basket maker one of these days. Sparky is always shooting for perfection before practice. Jean has 28 years behind her, Sparky has four months. Here's her fourth basket she's working on....

Sparky and Jean are going to get together again soon, when Jean starts another basket. That will help Sparky see the error of her ways and maybe the next basket she does will look even better! One thing about making pine needle baskets, each basket maker develops their own way of doing things, whatever works best for them based on best practices in the art of basket making.

Too late to change the stitching to the easier way, it will have to wait till the NEXT basket. Jean was a sweetheart for showing Sparky how she does some things when she makes her baskets, and for giving Sparky some North Carolina long leaf pine needles. Holy cow! North Carolina needles are a LOT longer than Florida long needle pines!

Hm-m-m-m...Who does Sparky know in North Carolina that could send her some? (Sparky, you'll just have to wait until we get there, says E.) But we're not headed there any time soon, so Sparky will just have to be patient and wait. We're actually going to be headed west towards Texas when we leave Sarasota....First, northern Florida, then Alabama to Red Bay, then to Houston,Texas, to see my little munchkin grandson! Yay! Then onward to Colorado...At least that's the Jello plan at the moment...

Sparky played a BUNCH of pickleball games at the women's night pickle ball. There was a lady there who was a very good pickleball player who was battling cancer. She has lung cancer AND brain cancer. She was very upbeat and positive, and everyone was very glad to see her. Another lady who's a regular every Monday and Thursday was there, the one with the morphine pump, the 18 back surgeries and two knee replacements. Makes you stop and think about how life is so short. Don't waste time feeling sorry for your little aches and pains, Sparky said to herself. Some people have much bigger battles to win..My sister, for one. She's whipped breast cancer for the third time, and she is one tough, funny, loveable lady. Sparky is going to go see her soon...She and her husband are here in Florida in Matlache, one of our favorite family vacation spots!

Time to head off to bed, Sparky's whipped!

See you later!


  1. Her baskets really were beautiful.

    You just might know someone in North Carolina...or at least someone who plans to be there soon. :)

  2. Beautiful baskets. I think yours are too. Sounds like you have Eldo on the road from FL to TX to CO to MI. whew that's a lot of driving. Hope I got all those abreviations right. :-))

  3. Its nice that you can learn some new tricks to make your crafting easier.
    Good luck with the long needles.

  4. Wow.. those baskets are amazing. I tried to weave one ... once... and gave up! I decided they teach basket weaving in the looney bins to have job security.

    Karen and Steve
    The USA Is Our Big Backyard