Teneriffe--Knots on Wire

Pine Needle Coiled Baskets by Peg's Basketry Arnoldussen
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This information, including illustrations, and probably everything you will ever need to know about coiled basketry, is published in "Coiled Art with Pine Needles."

For beginners, macrame rings work well and save time. However, when you've "outgrown" those things, making your own wires isn't difficult. I use floral wire purchased at a local craft store, shape and solder it. Preformed wires can also be purchased.

Step 1

This first illustration shows the starting knot on a wire ring. Divide your piece of raffia exactly in half, folding it to form the loop. Choose a piece of raffia that is a stiff cord. Cords are very strong but not flat.

Step 2

This next step illustrates the knot that is worked on the outside (right) edge of the wire. This "buttonhole knot" process is actually two slightly different knots that are worked alternately.

Step 3

Here's the second of the two knots, always worked on the inside (left) edge of the wire. Be sure to alternate these two knots: work the first, then the second, repeat forever.

Step 4

This is approximately how the knots should look. I've placed spaces between the strands of raffia that run horizontally over the top of the wire. However, in your actual work, there will be no spaces.

Your raffia ends will run out long before you get around your wire. To add in a new piece, first choose another strand that is a stiff cord. Remember, you will be stitching through the little loops forming on the inner and outer edges of the wire. You don't want that raffia to break when you run a needle through a loop! Be sure to leave a tail several inches long on the strand you are about to run out of. Now place your new strand alongside that tail and form the next several knots with the doubled strand. Then drop out the old tail and continue working with the new strand. You should have two ends that need trimming: the top end of the new strand and the discarded tail of the old. There should be several knots between the two ends.

When you have knotted all the way around your wire, thread one of the ends on a needle and work it through the corresponding knots at the beginning of the work. Follow the weave of the knots. If you do this correctly, you will not have a perceptible start/finish. Do the same with the other end.

Whatever is left of your ends you can now use to start creating spokes. Use the inside end first. String it across to the opposite inside edge of the wire and thread it through a knot loop. Keep it tight! It's very important to put enough tension on the spokes. This is where many would-be teneriffe weavers flunk out. Make them tight.

To make the next spoke, first weave your strand end through the knot loops, again following the weave of the knots, until you've moved far enough over from the first spoke. Now, again, string it across to the opposite inside edge. Continue doing this to make your spokes. When you run out of raffia, thread up the outside strand end, bring it to the inside, either over or under the wire, and through a knot loop to secure it. Again follow the weave of the knots until you have evenly spaced it from the nearest spoke, string it across to opposite side, continue as before.

For those of you who cannot visualize proper spacing, I have a mathematical solution to your problem. It requires a compass, protractor and a little simple arithmetic (division).

Draw circle

Create the template you need on a sheet of paper by marking the center of a circle. DiameterPlace the compass and strike a circle from that center-point, making the circle a little bigger than your actual teneriffe piece (this will work even if your teneriffe piece is not round). Draw a diameter line through the center.

Now decide how many spokes you want on your ring (count radii--spokes from center). Divide 360 (degrees in a circle) by that number (or count diameters--spokes across--and divide into 180). Your "answer" is the number of degrees between each spoke. We will work with 18 spokes (radii), that is 9 diameters, yielding 20 degrees between each spoke.


Placing your protractor at the circle's midpoint on the initial diameter, mark off that many degrees from your initial diameter along the outside edge of the circle and Next diameterdraw a new diameter from that point and through the midpoint. Keep doing this with each new diameter that you draw.

Note: If your "answer" had a remainder, you can distribute the extra degrees evenly among your radii. A discrepancy of one or two degrees of spacing among the radii (spokes) will never be perceived by the human eye in the final teneriffe piece.

Align spokes

After stringing your initial spoke, to determine the placement of each subsequent spoke, place your teneriffe piece on the template, matching a diameter with your strung spoke, and poke your needle through the next hole over that matches a diameter on your template.

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