Art Lesson Plan: Coiled Yarn, Raffia and Pine Needle Baskets

Coil Baskets

Submitted by: Sue Stewart
Unit: Fiber Arts- Basket making (Adapted from Craft Yarn Council of America)
Grade levels: Upper elementary through high school




Collect a variety of baskets to show students,. have them speculate on how they were made. Have them tell what they can learn about the people who made them (if cultural examples. A local museum is a good source to get some baskets on loan. Handle with care.


Show a PowerPoint of baskets from various cultures. Design a WebQuest for student to learn about basket making. Have student compare and contrast basket they find from other cultures.


Coil Basket Coil Basket Coil Basket
This example is made from raffia.


  • Lean about baskets from various cultures.

  • Critique works of art - speculate on how they are made

  • Learn the different stitches used in coil basket making

  • Utilize elements/principles of design to create basket - create a form that varies in diameter and direction.

  • Exhibit craftsmanship in basket making.


Many cultures around the word have been making coil baskets for centuries. All you have to do is to wind double strands of yarn or fibers around a core of everyday clothesline or rope. Coiling cord may be purchased. You can even make your own cord by rolling up end rolls of brown paper toweling. You shape the baskets with your hands as you work to achieve the desired size and shape. Change colors every few rows to create a pattern - insert colors to add a design. You may use bowl shapes to help control the shape or just eye ball the progression. Bowls and vessels do not have to be a traditional shape - Free form baskets can be very exciting.


Note from Sue: I make everyone do a flat sample that demonstrates starting, splicing and ending - then they write up a proposal for the larger basket, since once that core is cut there is no going back.  I use acrylic knitting yarn for strength. I also let some do pine needle baskets and some like to use raffia with a jute core. For yarn core I use white paper core wrapped in cotton.


General Directions:

knot tying chart
  1. Begin at the center of the bottom by forming the coil. To do this, taper one end of the clothesline with scissors -add some making tap to bring to a point. Thread tapestry needle with about 6 feet of yarn and then double the yarn... use the double strand of yarn to cover the core - depending on thickness of yarn. A heavy yarn will look best with single strand.

    Place about 1 inch of the yarn next to the end of the core and then wrap the two tightly together with some of the remaining yarn as shown in Illustration A (top diagram). As you can see, you wrap, moving the cut end of the clothesline.

  2. Pinch the covered core to bend and hold in place. Using needle, work Figure 8's over and under the core, toward the tapered end, until it is covered with yarn as shown in Illustration B. (second diagram).

  3. Coil yarn-covered end around to start the circular shape. If necessary, repeat another Figure 8 to hold first coil in place, then work three winds around core, followed by a Figure 8 to attach to previous coil. See Illustration C (third diagram). Continue shaping around in a circle - making a figure eight to secure to lower level every 3 to 4 stitches. A "Lazy Squaw" (apologies - but this is what the stitch is called) may be used that simply wraps to the lower level without forming the figure 8. Once the desired size base has been made - start to shape outward and up.

    This is the basic pattern that you will continue on the rest of the basket: Three winds to cover the clothesline core, a Figure 8 to connect two rows, three winds, a Figure 8, etc.. Place slightly to the outside to shape outward -- then place slightly to the inside to bring shape back in.

  4. When you need to add on more yarn or change to a new color, here's what you do: when 2"- 3" (5 - 7.6 cm) remain, cut the needle off and lay the yarn ends along the clothesline core; thread another needle and then place the ends of the new yarn next to the ends of the old yarn and secure in place by winding the new yarn over them until covered. See Illustration D (bottom diagram)

  5. To end a basket, taper the core about 1 inch from the end. Securely attach the last row end to the previous row with Figure 8's and then wrap the yarn around the last row end and the previous row as if they were both one. Thread yarn back through the Figure 8's and cut off.


Get creative with the top rim and make free form shapes. Form a lid if desired. Wrap with two colors at the same time to add patterns. Beads. may be added with wrapping - or feathers. Make little "Milagro" Sculpey. charms to add. So many possibilities!


You may want students to make a practice coil circle to learn the techniques. These practice pieces could become medallion necklaces. See turquoise and red sample.

Coil Baskets

This wonderful example (left) was made by a Japanese exchange student. Design in the bottom was made by using two colors at one time - changing to create design and hiding the other color in the wrapping. The wrapped figure was from a wire figurative sculpture lesson. The joints of the figure move. The figure can cross and uncross her legs. See the wrapped doll lesson on Incredible Art Department. More detail to come. Shown below are some pine needle baskets. Similar techniques are used.

Coil Baskets


Evaluation: See Modified Rubric

Internet Resources:


Textile Coil Pots And Baskets: Easy Ways With Fabric And Cord. - Easy to follow instructions teach you step-by-step how to make different types of pots, bowls and baskets.

It's a Wrap: Sewing Fabric Purses, Baskets, And Bowls. - Wind, wrap, and sew fabric strips into fantastic containers! Start with a plate shape to learn the technique. Then experiment with four basic container styles to create round, oval, square, and other shapes. Create purses, baskets, and bowls in an endless variety of sizes, shapes, and colors.



Here is a general baskets page - giving you several different ones to compare and contrast.

Native Tech-Basketry | Native Tech- Coil Baskets

Walk In Beauty: Hózhó and Navajo Basketry


Brief history of the Navajo: (Archive)

Diné - The Navajo People Google Community


Commercial sites with images: (Warning - Automatically plays music) (Hopi)

This gives your students a nice summary of Navajo artwork:

This page shows the traditional style described in the article above:

Native Web - Basket links

The Pine Needle Group Historical and Technical Links - Pine Needle and Coiled Baskets - lots of links

African - Zulu Baskets -Here is an eBay page with many Zulu Coil baskets



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