Willow by Jenny Crisp - Book Review

Since mid October (when this eagerly anticipated book was released), at every Willow Sculpture Day that I’ve taught I’ve been enthusing  about Jenny Crisp’s fantastic new book ‘Willow’ and the woven projects within.

Having now had a chance to make two of the woven projects, I wanted to write a review to let you know that if you only buy one book about willow basket making this year –  make it this one!

Jenny is spot on with her timing, amid the fantastic resurgence of interest in our craft form she encapsulates the idea of having a ‘natural’ home containing function and beauty in every room, (literally ‘containing’ in the form of baskets!)  Woven projects range from those for enthused beginners right up to advanced undertakings.  Jenny cleverly divides up projects into flat, natural, spiral, round and square weaves.  I love the fact that Jenny has imbued her own distinctive style throughout the book, but especially in the round and square weave projects.  What’s more, alongside clear and succinct explanations accompanied by beautiful images, Jenny has included key weaving techniques as well as how to grow, harvest and prepare willow.  It’s all in there – in fact you could spend months progressing through, experimenting and weaving every project and in the process truly enhance your home and garden!

I especially loved making the Laundry Basket.  It was as I continued English Randing higher and higher up the basket sides I realised just why Jenny had chosen to make this basket shape.  The willow stakes literally wanted to flow into this beautiful conical form.  The Black Maul variety of willow that I used was slightly thicker than Jenny’s, this did mean that I made minor adjustments to the project recipe in the number of rounds of English Randing, the top wale and the pair border, but I was really pleased with my result, (apart from my definite need for border perfection!)  My laundry basket now stands proudly, at just shy of 3ft high in the corner of my bedroom.  Before weaving this basket my eldest daughter, having looked at the project, declared that it would be ‘highly impractical’, and having no lid lead to there being ‘stinky laundry smells’.  I am very glad to say that she was utterly wrong on both counts!  There is a surprising amount of space within, enough for a weeks worth of laundry and the beautiful mellow scent of the willow acts as a great natural air freshener!  An unforeseen bonus is that myself and my family are bettering our hand to eye coordination by the day, our laundry basket has proven to be great target practice for throwing sock balls at across the room…

Please do go buy this book, actually go buy two copies, because as I wrote to Jenny, “I love the fact that you’ve now given me such a dilemma because your book is so lovely to read and look at, yet I know that my copy will be soon as grubby as hell because myself and those I teach are pouring over the pages!”

You can order Jenny’s book by going to her website at jennycrisp.co.uk/book , ‘Willow’ is also being stocked at Waterstones, independent booksellers, Amazon and at Coates English Willow.

The photos below show my laundry basket in the making.  I love how as the basket progresses it ‘grows’ up my Christmas tree.  I also love how I managed to get the casserole dish that I was using as my weight stuck inside!