An interesting tidbit I've picked up while attempting to learn this skill - there is no machine that can make a basket. Every basket you see, even one you find in Dollar Tree, is made by someone.
There were a few reasons I decided to learn to do this. First of all, I like baskets. I have them all over my house and at work. They're practical and decorative. I'm a bit of a clutterbug, so I frequently use them in an organizing capacity. Second, I'm always looking to learn something new. So why not baskets? I saw a flyer and thought, "Yeah, maybe that's something. Baskets are cool." The last reason is a little odd. In a book I read and loved in college, The Valley of Horses, Jean Auel writes about her heroine making baskets in a cave all winter when she is all alone and trying to survive on her own. I'm not sure why, but that part of the book always appealed to me and has stayed with me over many years. If you haven't read that book, I highly recommend it. But not until you've read The Clan of the Cave Bear. It comes first. You might as well get the order right. But I digress...
As a teacher, I think it's valuable to put myself in a position to learn something completely foreign to me at least once a year. It makes me remember what it's like to be a student. I also took a sewing lesson this month (that's for another post) and felt like my head was going to explode in the last five minutes of that lesson. The teacher was excellent, very patient and happy to answer all my questions, but it was simply too much information by the end of the hour. The vocabulary and the concepts were all brand new to me. I was on overload. To her credit, she realized this, recapped what we had talked about, and gave me some homework to do on my own, assuring me that I could call her if I had any questions. It reminded me this is how kids often feel. To be a good teacher, I need to slow down, give short lessons, and then give them a chance to be independent while supporting them.
So I feel like basket making has improved my teaching. Also, it doesn't hurt that they're really cute and handy to have around the house ;). It's therapeutic as well because you have to completely concentrate on what you are doing. At least, I do. That's a good thing for me because my mind tends to have 532 tabs open at a time. It clears your mind of all the little distractions that are causing you stress.
This songbird basket was by far my favorite to make. I think that's because I had some experience at this point, so it was easier. Another good thing for a teacher to remember. Kids don't like to do things that are new because they're hard. They'll resist at first. Even the brightest student (sometimes especially the brightest - they're used to things coming easily) balks a little bit the first time they try something challenging. The more practice you give them, the more they like to do it.
Here's my basket unfinished...
...and here it is finished. It has a little bird charm, hence the name.
I confess, that I feel silly sometimes when I tell people about taking classes like this. The kick I get out of it outweighs that feeling most of the time. If you're thinking about learning something new that has always appealed to you, I encourage you to get over the feeling that it's silly or frivolous or a waste of time. You're wasting your time when you don't do it.