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Becoming a willow weaver

I first became interested in weaving a couple of years ago after watching a survival programme on TV in which someone made a fish trap out of twigs and grass. I was struck by the simple resourcefulness of making something practical out of natural materials and the application of a bit of know-how - skills that our forebears would have relied on in the days before plastics and mass manufacturing processes. Even today, basket making is one of the few crafts not to have been mechanised. Every basket you see has been made by hand.

So, I looked for courses in the Yorkshire area and in April 2017 made my first willow basket. It was one of the most rewarding things I’d ever done. To start the day with a pile of damp sticks and finish with a (slightly wonky and misshapen) basket gave me such a sense of achievement. I immediately went home and ordered some willow and some basic tools.

Over the next couple of years and more courses, it became increasingly clear that the sense of satisfaction and achievement was something that had been increasingly lacking in my working life. Struggling to maintain motivation for a long commute and the demands of a stressful job, I was going crazy. In early 2019, I quit work and set up Out of the Woods. I’m now trading on farmers and craft markets around Leeds and delivering willow weaving workshops.

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