Photo: Kirstin Roper, © NHMU

Weaving Tools

A basket-making tool kit is simple: a sharp knife and a small diameter awl. Some weavers also use nail clippers and a tin can lid punched with various-sized holes. Weavers have favorite tools and often use the same ones for years. They score sumac branches with a sharp knife before splitting them into three pieces, or laces. Then they smooth the branches, or rods, and the laces with the knife to make them an even thickness along their length. Some weavers pull their laces through the sharp-edged holes cut into a tin lid to make them a uniform size. When weaving a basket, they use an awl to poke a hole in the row below the one they are creating to make way for each new stitch. Then they slide the lace, carved to a point with a knife, through the hole. When it’s time to splice in a new lace, weavers clip the end of the old one close to the surface of the basket with their knife or nail clippers and insert a new lace.