Crafting baskets

Baskets are a type of container that is traditionally hand-woven from various plant materials. Baskets are made all over Sweden, although the material and techniques vary.

Location: Nation wide

Photo of 25 different kinds of baskets spread over a green grass surface.

Baskets are made all over Sweden, although the material and techniques vary. Photo: Linnea Rundgren

Traditionally, baskets are woven or tied by hand with different techniques, using plant materials such as wood, grass, straw, roots, bast fiber, and bark. A key component of many woven baskets is a sturdy framework on which the softer material is woven.

The weaving techniques vary depending on the characteristics of the material. Tied baskets are constructed with a supporting material that is used as a core around which a softer material (such as straw) is tied. While basket weaving techniques can be used to produce objects such as furniture and garments, or construction elements, this text focuses on the traditional handcrafting of baskets.

Basket weaving is one of the world’s oldest crafts. The oldest archeological find in Sweden is a woven basket made for catching eels dating back 7,500 years. Traditionally, baskets have been used in farming, forestry, mining, fishing, and everyday life.

In the 19th century, the basket-making guild was founded and active in the cities. During the 19th and 20th centuries, there was a great demand for baskets, and basket-making was an important income for many, particularly for people with disabilities. Basket weaving was a prominent craft in the northern parts of the region of Scania, as well as Våmhus in Dalarna, and the region of Sjuhärad.

Today, baskets no longer have the central position in everyday life as they did in the 19th century. Despite this, there is still a widespread interest among the public in learning the craft, and introductory courses are held by crafts associations and folk high schools all over Sweden. One challenge is the access to raw materials, that sometimes require old forests and wood which is not readily available today. The project “Korgen lyfter” (“lifting/raising the basket”) ran between 2020-2023 and aimed to strengthen the craft in Sweden. It also resulted in a basket exhibition. In 2024, the National Basket Association was founded. The association aims to safeguard and promote basket crafting traditions as a living heritage.

Sami baskets

Sami basket weaving has been known and documented in Sweden since the 16th century. Sami-made baskets were sought after historically. The skills of Sami basket weavers were an important reason for the Swedish state to allow Sami craftspeople to live and work in mid-Sweden in the 18th century. The baskets are usually woven in a spiral technique, using birch or spruce roots. Despite their historical popularity, Sami crafts and basket makers are often portrayed negatively in sources and literature of the 20th century.

Rib baskets

Rib baskets are made from a framework of one or two loops, with thin “ribs” added to make the body of the basket. A softer material is used for weaving the body. The technique is spread across many parts of the world, with materials varying according to local conditions. In Sweden, spruce, willow, hazel, juniper, or rattan have been used. The baskets can be crafted with or without handles and lids according to their intended area of use.

Spruce root baskets

Spruce root baskets are a variety of rib baskets. The craft person uses spruce sticks to construct the framework, and the spruce root is used for weaving the body. Geographically, this basket has been mostly used in the region of Mälardalen. Due to its durability, it has had a variety of uses such as fishing, farming, and mining. Few practitioners with knowledge of the technique remain today. However, the craft has been documented by Sörmlands Museum, and there is a course that teaches spruce root basket weaving at Sätergläntan Institute for sloyd and craft.

Hazel baskets

Hazel has traditionally been used for basket weaving in southern Sweden. Both circular (kolfat-basket) and rectangular (arseballa-basket) varieties exist in the regions of Scania, Blekinge and Småland. A central component when crafting hazel baskets is to split the wood into chips, which are then used for weaving. Similar to other basket-weaving traditions, hazel baskets became popular during the later part of the 19th century. The circular kolfat-basket had many uses in everyday life, for example as a sieve and for plating. The rectangular arseballa-basket was often used when picking berries or carrying groceries. Few practitioners with knowledge of the craft remain today, but the craft can be learned through courses arranged by local crafts associations.

”Tvegrepa” juniper baskets

The craft of weaving baskets with juniper has been most common in the regions of Götaland and Svealand. A common type of juniper basket is the ”tvegrepa”-basket. This is a large circular basket with a flat bottom and two small handles. Foraging for materials is time-consuming and requires knowledge of how to choose, collect, and prepare the juniper. As a material, juniper has many benefits such as being light and durable, and the baskets were used to carry wood and coal in the railway and mining industries. The baskets were most popular during the late 19th and early 20th century. Today, few people know the craft of weaving tvegrepa juniper baskets.

Willow baskets

Weaving willow baskets is a common practice all over the world. The craft became popular in Sweden during the 19th century, influenced by German basket weaving traditions. Willow basket weaving was particularly prominent in southern Sweden. As a material, willow has gained popularity due to being easy to access and use. The willow sticks can be picked fresh or dried and can be used with or without the bark, depending on the desired properties and appearance of the basket. Willow baskets are made in different shapes and with different weaving techniques. All baskets are crafted by hand, as no machines exist that can produce willow baskets. There is a relatively big contemporary interest in learning how to weave willow baskets in Sweden. One professional workshop still exists in Stockholm, and various local crafts associations arrange courses all over the country.

Straw baskets (Löbbindning)

”Löbbindning” is a basket-making technique that entails tying straw in a spiral shape to create circular baskets. The history of tied straw baskets is difficult to trace due to the material deteriorating easily. The technique has been common in the southern part of Sweden and on the island of Öland, most likely due to rye straw being widely accessible. Straw baskets have mostly been used to store grains and flour, as they were considered to have the best protection against vermin. Löbbindning-technique was also used to craft objects like beehives and shoes. As the technique is quite time-consuming, objects made with löbbindning were highly valued historically.


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The webpage (text in swedish) for the project Korgen Lyfter External link.

Korgar External link. – an article (in swedish) about baskets at the Sörmlands museum webpage.

Korgen och korgmakarna External link. - a text (in swedish) about baskets at the Hälsinglands museum webpage.