My Knitted Tribute to Native American Basketry


New England wood splint (left) and Western basket (right)

Because this basketry was developed by Native American tribes and carries symbolic and spiritual meaning, I decided to use designs elements like color and design to create a knitted tribute to them rather than using native techniques and symbolic images in my work. In doing so, I created two different miniature knitted bags that represent two separate parts of the country. One is based on the wood splint basketry of the New England Native American tribes in the late 1700s, and the other is based off the Pomo of California and the Skokomish of Washington basketry in the early 1800s.

There were several techniques I had to learn in order to make these baskets, the first of which was knitting in the round. I started with a coin purse pattern from with colors that I would use for my baskets. This was a good idea because it taught me how to knit in the round and how to switch colors.


Example of knitting in the round with double pointed needles

The size of these baskets is very small, because creating one the size of the originals would take me much longer than the time we had in class! They are cute and small, and my uncle even asked me if I was making a coozie!

New England Wood Splint Basket

The New England baskets were square, and used much wider wooden pieces to create the woven baskets, and common colors were black and red. If you click here, there is a picture of a covered basket made by a person from the Nipmuck tribe.  I tried to resemble this look by using thick color stripes and a basket pattern. The pattern I used is based on this pattern from user SmarieK on The technique I used to create the lines of alternating color carried onto the next color is called a slip stitch, and can be seen here. This is different from the other basket because it creates the illusion of thicker yarn and larger stitches.


In progress; you can see the white stitches on the row below the one on the needle. They were carried up the red and I’m getting read to switch colors


my finished product!

Western Soft Basket

This basket was inspired by two separate tribes; all of the information I found is from the source cited in the timeline, and you can read more about it in my source summary.  I used the Pomo as a color influence. They used many colors, like green, blue, and white to create beautiful wedding baskets. The Skokomish of Washington used different geometric shapes to create hard and soft baskets, although the style I was influenced by was a soft basket, which you can view here.

In addition to knitting in the round, I had to learn how to use color in a technique called stranding knitting, or fair isle knitting. I didn’t use any specific pattern, just based what I saw in this video to create the top blue and white lines, and from there was inspired to do the chevron in green. I worked from the top down because that was how the pattern was worked.


In progress; you can see the white and green stitches. On each new row, the placement of the white stitch would move left one to create the diagonal stripes.

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