Why We Love Willow & Picnic Hampers
Willow is a fast-growing perennial plant called salix viminalis (basket willow) that absorbs carbon from the atmosphere as it grows. It can be easily and safely harvested, from a stump in withy beds which will immediately start re-growing without the need for ploughing and planting.
Most of our willow products are completely biodegradable; they are made entirely of willow and local native timber.
The willow used in our picnic hampers and picnic baskets grows in strands in the Far East; the willow is cut from sustainable and regenerative crops which is cultivated solely for this purpose. It is cropped at two different times a year, July/August and November/December.
Once the willow is harvested it is taken to local villages that use traditional, highly skilled craftspeople, who perform a variety of weaving techniques to create products of great quality and strength. The weaving is all completed by hand, in a time consuming process that has been passed down by generations.
Willow or Wicker?
What’s the difference between willow and wicker? Essentially, they are the same thing; wicker is an English term which is used when an item is made from the raw material of plant origin, such as willow, reed and bamboo, this has created the term wicker basket. Willow is the raw material that is used to make our picnic hampers, picnic baskets and other willow products.
Willow Types & Weave
There are several types of willow rods known as “withies” used in basket making, our products are made from a variety of the following which give different colours and weave types:
White Willow - Cropped in July and August while the sap is still rising, it is stripped of its bark straight away revealing the whiter colour underneath.
Buff Willow - Mainly cropped in November but can also occasionally be cropped in December. It is one of the most popular colours used in basket making.
The colour is obtained by boiling the willow to release the natural tannin colour from the bark into the wood. The bark is then removed from the willow revealing the gorgeous golden colour that has soaked into the willow.
Double Steamed Willow - The same process as buff willow, however it is boiled twice and creates a deeper richer colour.
Green Willow - This is called green willow not necessarily due to its colour but because it is used in a raw state and natural way, no treatment process is used.
When the willow is dried from the various processes it is bundled up together ready for weaving. Weaving has several different methods that are created by highly skilled makers.
Single or Randed weave - One single strand of willow is used. This method takes longer to weave and gives the basket a very strong finish.
Double, Triple or Slewed weave - Multiple strands of willow are woven together at the same time. This requires a highly skilled maker to complete and is a quicker method.
Once the picnic hampers have been made they are taken to the factory to be fitted. First the lining is added which is either sewn or tied in, meaning they can be removed and re attached if necessary. The straps and fastenings are
attached and will either be leather or leatherette, the style and fittings of the strapping depends on how many people the picnic hampers will be for and what items will be included. The straps are made to fit the variety of cutlery, glasses and items which will be included.
The handles are chosen depending on the weight the hamper may be carrying; some of the larger hampers have rope handles which give a stronger, even hold.
Willow is a strong natural material which has been used for hundreds of years to create a variety of products. Sometimes natural small blemishes and fractures can occur as the willow is crafted and weaved, and depending on the size of the willow used the measurements may have a small 5% difference.
We are passionate about picnic hampers and picnic baskets, they will be part of your life for years to come, help you create memories and hold everything you need for the perfect day out.