7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Basket Maker at Colonial Williamsburg by Carrie Fancett Pagels

So how could Cynthia Howerter and I RESIST stopping when we came upon this young woman making baskets at Colonial Williamsburg this past autumn?  Of course--we couldn't!

Basket Maker at Colonial Williamsburg

So we came a little closer and asked if she minded if we asked a few questions. Like many of the other skilled craftspeople at CW, she said "of course" and we proceeded to draw closer yet!

You'll notice her clothing is made from natural fibers. We talked a little about how the clothing protected well from the elements outside. In late autumn, one never knows what the weather will be in Virginia.

Cynthia asked if we could have a picture of the back of the basket maker's hat, which was so pretty, and you can see her mob cap (by the way, not called that during colonial times but during the French Revolution and thereafter) and the pretty blue ribbon. Also notice to her left a closer view of the tools of her trade.
The top image is of a bottle wrapped in basket-woven material. This allowed it to be carried more easily and offered some insulation. Also looks nice!

At the bottom, you'll note water was kept on hand to keep material moist and supple for weaving. Unfortunately we weren't there during the weaving process, demonstrated earlier in the day. But we did enjoy seeing the results of all the efforts.

All kinds of products could be carried in baskets. And different additions were done to them dependent upon their need. For instance, the unusual looking basket at the right is equipped with a rope, which would have made it easier to carry over the shoulder.

Isn't this basket at the left pretty? I love the gingham, too. Different baskets would have been lined. Even today we benefit from similar containers. My laundry basket, for instance, is a rectangular woven basket with a canvas liner.  But there were no plastics back then! So all kinds of things needed to be placed in baskets.

Here's a close up of several of the pretty baskets, at the right. These are more typical types but still look very hard to make. I have a few hand-made baskets. I cherish these gifts from friends, knowing how hard those baskets are to weave!

Question: Do you have any hand-made baskets and/or do you have any favorites? Why? In my upcoming release, The Lumberjack's Ball, there is a basket on the cover. We're doing a Cover Reveal on 3-17 on this blog, Overcoming with God blog, and several others. Mark your calendars and you might win the basket of goodies if you leave a comment on each blog! Leave a comment today to win a copy of The Fruitcake Challenge, which is first in the Christy Lumberjack Series!

Carrie Fancett Pagels is the administrator of the Colonial Quills blog and founder of Colonial American Christian Writers group. She blogs here on CQ and on the Overcoming with God blog. She loves running around to colonial places with pals like authors Cynthia Howerter and Janet Grunst!


  1. I enjoyed your post Carrie. I like her dress and really like her hat (the back too).

  2. I learned how to make baskets from two different friends, one of whom volunteers at a local living history museum in Ohio - Sauder Village. Feeling a basket take shape beneath my fingers gave me fresh appreciation for this beautiful yet functional artform.

    1. Oh that is so neat, Sandy! You are so talented! You put it exactly right--beautiful yet functional artform! I'd love to go to Sauder Village, sounds like a neat place!

  3. Thanks for teaching me a little more about basket making. I used to have a lovely basket which I had purchased when living in Bavaria, Germany. It was lined with some lovely dirndl cloth. Unfortunately, it fell apart a few years ago.
    bettimace at gmail dot com

    1. That must have been fun living in Bavaria, Betti! My sister was in the army and stationed in Germany for a while. I'd love to get to Bavaria, part of which was in the duchy of the German Palatinates at one point. Thanks for coming by!

  4. Sure hope I remember to show up for the party.

  5. Thanks for this nice article. I also make this same type of basket using reed. Another weaving material is willow which is more difficult to use. I do other colonial crafts as well such as beeswax candle dipping and soapmaking which keeps my feet on the ground in these modern times.
    Karen Rink on the French-German border

  6. Carrie You are a wonderful mistress to CQ and a wonderful light for our Lord even with your physical struggles God bless you and all of your faithful CQ'ers

  7. paper or basket? Lol Loved this post, Carrie!

  8. Hi! I'm actually one if the basket makers at Colonial Williamsburg. Thank you for visiting us! The hanging basket isn't actually for carrying anything in. (The string is just an easy way to hang it.) It's a fish trap...this one is sized for eels! Also, you wouldn't have seen anyone lining a basket with fabric. That pretty checked fabric is actually a cushion for me to sit on when I join my coworker here in your photo! lol All of our baskets are made from white oak that we split by hand and weave up dry. Come visit again and I hope you'll be able to see us at work. 😊


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