How to build a nylon strap basket

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This is one of those projects that’s been on my mind for a long time.

In fact, I’ve been thinking it over for almost a year now.  When John and I arrived in Israel back in August for his second year of medical school, I used to walk with him part way to class each morning.  Yeah, we’re cute like that.

Of course that lasted a few weeks tops, but you can’t stay a cutesy newlywed wife forever.   Anyway, one of the streets on our way to the university was all torn up (and I believe it still is).   I thought I had left the land of never ending road construction when we left Tulsa, Okla., but apparently not.

However, here in Israel there is one big difference.

Look what I found. Just what I need. (Photos by Kathryn Jett.)

While the major mode of construction in Oklahoma is concrete, here they favor brick and tile and they do it really well.  I have never seen brick walks laid so fast and so precisely.  While walking back and forth with John, I noticed that the leftovers from all this brick work are piles and piles of nylon and plastic strapping used to hold the bricks onto giant pallets.

The strapping comes in all kinds of bright colors, which is always something that grabs my eye when I’m looking to recycle.    So when they started work on the street outside our apartment, I was partially annoyed at the mess and partially excited to score a bunch of the bright green strapping laying everywhere.

I took about twenty strips and headed over to a friend’s backyard.  This project had the potential to be dirty, noisy and take up a lot of space so I decided not to do it at home while John is preparing for the USMLE.  The strips were almost three yards long so I cut several of them in thirds and started and basic basket weave.

This is the same plain old pattern you would use on the top of a pie.  Take your strand underneath every other strand and repeat.  This part was way easier than expected.  I worked for a little less than an hour and achieved a 12- by 12-inch square (or close to that; I didn’t use a ruler at all).   I left a long excess on each side of the square to eventually become the sides of my basket.  Then I bent each piece back toward the square, crimping the bend so as to hold the base in place.  This may be a good time to have your friend Lisa bring you a delicious mint, lemon and ginger flavored water.

The sides were much more difficult than I expected, but I eventually landed on a pretty good system.  I measured off as much as I needed to go around the basket a little more than once.  Then I put a bend at each corner of than length.  Then I would use a series of “ponytails.”  Stay with me here, sometimes I have to make up terminology for my extremely innovative techniques.  (That, or I might not know exactly what I’m doing.)

I found it was easier to gather all the straps that were going to be woven inward and tie them up in the middle of the basket.  Then I could slip my new piece into place and the weaving was already done.  I would let those straps out of their “ponytail” and repeat.  When I felt like the basket was tall enough, I bent each strap over the top edge and tucked it into the weaving below it.  All in all, it took me a few hours and I am pretty pleased with the results.  My onions and potatoes are resting peacefully in their new home.

If you want to try this project, but you don’t have fabulous bricklayers at your doorstep, try checking with an appliance store.  Or let your friends know to save them for you when they buy their next big screen.