Willow Basketmaking Day in times of Covid - Oh yes we can (and make stunning baskets too!)

Willow Basketmaking Day in times of Covid – Oh yes we can (and make stunning baskets too!) – 21/10/20

“Dear Sarah, What can we say?
An amazing day. Thank you so much. Your enthusiasm and passion for English willow is awesome and inspiring. My wrists are throbbing, the wine is poured. Thank goodness we ‘ listened’ to your email! We are soo proud of our baskets. Hope to meet you again. You did amazingly.
All the best Karen and Tom” 14/10/20

What a testimonial!  I’m incredibly grateful to receive such brilliant feedback from last Friday’s Willow Basket Day that I taught at Coates English Willow.  It’s such a privilege to teach, and right now, having to deal with the continuing Covid uncertainty of creating postponement upon already postponed Willow Days, my teaching and amazing feedback is one of the things that is keeping me sane.

I also received lovely feedback from Hannah, who bought her dad Brook one of my gift vouchers, “I just wanted to say thank you for your Friday course. My Dad, Brook, really enjoyed it and we are all amazed at how well the basket came out.  We would in fact like to buy him another voucher/book him on another course.”

Brook, seen here in the main image weaving a round ‘Stake & Strandesque’ shopping basket that involves some English techniques, was an absolute natural.  (I wished I’d been as good when I started out!)
I began teaching again in September, reducing the number of students per Willow Day and making all reasonable effort to follow the latest Covid guidelines.  I can’t say that this makes good teaching easy, but it is just about possible.
I’ve always striven to take students, whether making willow animals or baskets, to a creative place that they never believed themselves capable of.  It’s not unusual for students to leave my classroom absolutely exhausted, tightly gripping their creations and so excited about what they have achieved.  This is what keeps me buzzing and keeps me motivated when my future seems so uncertain.  Right now I’m 95% of the time teaching students whose original Willow Days were postponed from April – July and I will be doing this, whilst I’m allowed, to at least December and beyond.  To be truthful, sometimes I do feel so overwhelmed by the Covid work / life situation we find ourselves in, not least because almost all of these lovely students paid me last October.  This means the money’s been spent long ago.  But I’m incredibly grateful, if it wasn’t for them and each of their willingness to postpone their Willow Day, then I wouldn’t have been able to continue crafting; making and teaching.  I wouldn’t have been able to pay my mortgage, feed my girls over the Spring/Summer and also have had my much needed two summer campervan adventures in Cornwall and Scotland.
As we head into winter we’re facing further uncertainty Covid wise and it’s been a battle within me as to whether I should currently release my January – May 2021 Willow Day dates (which I said that I would do in early October).  I just don’t want to further disappoint anyone with potentially more postponements.  Even though I know that this is out of my control, I feel that when postponing I’m personally letting people down, taking away a hope, often a gift and a dream of theirs, when we all need at this moment to keep such dreams alive….
Then I teach Willow Days such as the general basketmaking day last Friday.  An incredible group, whose enthusiasm was infectious (in a highly non-Covid positive way!) who even though they were putting up with wearing face masks all day, I know each had such wonderful smiles.  Thank you Karen, Tom, Brook, Julia, Andie and Caroline, you’re all beginner basketmaking stars!  So, as long as I’m allowed, I will continue to teach my Willow Days this Autumn and if the day takes us a little longer, using up so much of my energy that by the end of the workshop I’m shattered and just crawl off into my campervan to sleep through to the next morning, then so be it.  It is worth so much to us all.
I promise I will be releasing my January – May 2021 Willow Day dates asap.  If any of these dates end up being postponed due to Covid then we will reschedule for later in 2021.  If this unfortunately happens I will still be incredibly grateful, you’ll know that by booking a place on one of these Willow Days you will be helping me, in so many ways, to make it through the coming winter. Sarah Xx
From left to right: The incredible beginners! Caroline with her gorgeous round Zarzo basket; Brook’s stunning first ever basket – a stake and strand English affair; Tom and Julia making rectangular Zarzo baskets up against a ping-pong table! (Zarzo basket guru Ulla Misser would be proud!)