From the Heart
Choose a bunch of thick raffia strands, about 15, and knot together in the middle (single knot). Go through the strands and pull each, to tighten any loose loops in the knot. Thread needle with a coarse, but not too thick strand of raffia, wrap a couple times around base of one tail, double back along knot and stitch to it. Continue to wrap/stitch till you reach other tail, gather it into the bundle and include in the wrap/stitch process. Proceed around knot. Continue wrap/stitching the raffia core and coil around the knot and then around the coils, forming a typical coiled start, as with pine needles.
I worked this way till I had about a one inch diameter start. At this point, I took my three rods and cut one end of each with the Plato, to form a wedge point.
Peel back the outer raffia strands in the bundle, maybe about 6, and cut the core out using the Plato or a sharp, point-tipped scissors, to about a 1/8 inch length. Wrap/stitch once more.
Arrange the wedge-points of the rods together so they form a point. Push them into the core (not a hard push), pull the remaining raffia core strands over them, hold firmly in place. Wrap/stitch, being very careful not to pull the rods out. After several wrap/stitches, cut the remaining raffia core ends (not the binder raffia).
If you are conservative with your materials, as I am, keep those core strands for your next project. Lay them together and knot. You are ready for next basket!
Your rods should form a little pyramid stack in the core. When you've completed the first rod coil, begin inserting your needle under the uppermost rod. Use the plier as needed.
Centuries later . . . progress?
This thing now has a diameter of 4.25 inches, and I have begun shaping it. It's a very slow process. To shape a gradual curve, simply set the pyramid base onto the top rod of previous coil, slightly off center, slanted in direction you wish to go (see illustration).
My fingers would be pulp were it not for the plier--essential in my opinion. David doesn't use one; he's tough.
To place uniform designs, I am using a protractor--another essential in my opinion.