Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cattail Baskets

In some of my previous posts, I mentioned having a pond on our property that is currently growing copious amounts of cattails. When we first moved in, the pond had a few scattered here and there... but since then, they have exploded and now take up about half of the pond's area.

Now I know most people hate the things; they think that they are invasive and are terribly difficult to eradicate. I, on the other hand, see them as an opportunity!

Cattails have many great properties, and I have been looking forward to testing out all of the different uses I have read about. Not only are they a mecca of wild edibles (the tubers can be mashed and cooked like potatoes, the young inner green shoots can be sauteed, and the fluffy tops can be ground down and used like a type of flour), but the outer leaves have been used as a weaving material.

We have not tried cooking any of the parts yet, but awhile back, Tad donned his water gear and went into the pond to harvest some leaves for me.

After removing most of the largest, unbent leaves, I placed them in our barn on raised nets to dry for a few weeks. Drying them in shade instead of in intense sunlight helps preserve the color.

Once dried, I invited my friend Anna out to the farm to embark on a basket weaving mission.

My basket... well let us just say turned out to be a crapshoot. The pieces I used were too short, and about two inches in, I realized that my beloved basket would turn out to be less basket and more... tray.

So I chucked the thing away and let my cats chew on it.

Anna's, however, turned out to be beautiful! It has given me hope that I can actually use the abundance of cattails for something more than just compost material.

If you are interested in learning how to weave baskets, there is a series on youtube by a lady called BasketMaster that outlines the major aspects. We watched about 7 of the videos... but honestly, after the first few, you should get the idea. She goes into great, great detail about how to weave over, and then under... and then over, and under... over... under.

It is super easy. You will catch on quickly, I promise.


  1. The basket turned out great. I can't wait to see what you come up with next.

  2. I would love to weave my own baskets...I never gave it a thought. Thanks for the tip!

    BTW, I just LOVE that basket in the pic!

  3. No cattails around here, but what a great post. Thanks for sharing!

  4. That is so neat! I can think of so many uses. I do weave, but baskets never really caught my attention before.

  5. The basket is beautiful. I love the rustic look of it. Have fun experimenting with basket making. I can't wait to see more.

  6. How cool is that basket??
    I just stumbled onto your blog from...somewhere. lol Been reading too much too long tonight to remember.

    I think the 2 of you have made a very good choice in lifestyles...

  7. Michelle, Thanks for the compliment! I foresee there being many more cattail baskets in my future.

    tami, Weaving is incredibly easy, so long as you can get your hands on the right material for it.

    Jody, Come out to my place and you can be up to your ears in cattails! :)

    Leigh, My head is bursting at the seams with all the ideas I have for what I can make with cattails... the possibilities are endless!

    Grafixmuse, Thanks so much! Every country home needs a few rustic baskets lying around, right?

    Akannie, We are loving it out here, and so happy to have dove right into this lifestyle.

  8. What an ingenious way to use the cattails! I knew the white root part could be used for food, but I never thought of weaving baskets. Who couldn't use baskets around a garden?

    1. Plus, maybe making my own baskets would prevent me from making any more basket-impulse-purchases at the thrift stores I frequent. They are just so useful!

  9. That is a beautiful basket!! Not only useful for you but perhaps a way to supplement your income during the cold winter months, just weaving away....

    1. It could possibly be a supplemental income, once I get enough practice. It is extremely easy to do!

  10. You could also make seats for chairs out of the cattail leaves. Very comfortable and soft!

  11. Do you do anything special for the "keeper row?"


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