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All About Reed
The Country Seat, Inc. 1013 Old Philly Pike, Kempton PA 19529
610-756-6124 - www.countryseat.com

Click HERE for FAQ's about Ordering Supplies
Click HERE for FAQ's about Seat Weaving
Click HERE for FAQ's - Terms and Definitions
Click HERE for Weaving Tips

FAQ's about Basket Weaving
1/8" Flat Reed
  • Q: I have some patterns that call for 1/8" flat reed, where can I buy this?
A: 1/8" flat reed is not commercially available. The pattern authors are cutting 1/4" flat reed in half. You can do this or try 11/64" flat reed or try natural cane or bleached cane in the Medium (3 mm) size.
1/8" half round is available and is used for rims on miniature Nantuckets and other baskets, it can also be used as an interesting weaver. 1/8" / 3mm Flat Oval is available in 1/2 pound coils and can be used for many projects. It works great for weaving, lashing and wrapping handles!

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Adding a New Weaver
  • Q: I have never used round reed as the weaver before. To start/stop the weaver, do I just the old and new side by side for awhile, or do I push the old end down a spoke, as well as the new end?
A: The answer will depend on who you ask :o)
1) It is an accepted method to lay the ends side-by-side, on the inside of the basket, across a spoke (whether the basket is constructed entirely of round reed or just the weavers are round reed). The ends are generally cut on an angle so they lay as flat as possible.
2) You can taper each piece for a few inches and then weave the two as one (trapping the ends between the spoke and weaver).
3) The method that I personally use (because I hate to see ends of any kind and I feel that loose ends weaken the basket, esp. if it will be used with anything that can catch on those loose ends and break them, OK I'm off my soapbox) is to bury the ends into the weaving. The old weaver is brought in front of a spoke (#1) and is crimped or bent at a 90 degree angle (a bent-nose pliers works great) and the end is inserted, down into the weaving, to the left side of the next spoke or rib (#2) , the new piece is crimped and the end is inserted into the weaving to the right side of the previous spoke (#1) and brought behind the next spoke (#2) and out towards you and weaving continues as usual. This allows for a most natural looking joint.
The method that you use is really up to you and your preferences.
Flat and flat oval weavers are overlapped for the distance of 4 stakes, the ends are hidden between the weaver and the stake. It's always a good idea to shave down the end of the old flat oval weaver or the end of the new weaver (the shaved end is placed behind the unshaven weaver) so the overlap is less noticeable and bulky. See Overlapping Reed Ends for more joining information.

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Attaching Handles Before the Rim is Lashed in Place - Bushel Basket Handles, Push In "U" or Notched Handles, Swing Handles, Ears, Square "U" w/Center Grip etc.
  • Q: How do I attach these handles to my basket?
A: First look at your handle, does it have any kind of a ledge or notch near the ends of the handle?
If it does not and your handle has nothing to hold it into the basket you have an Un-notched "U" or "U" Shaped Handle, click HERE
for the information on attaching this style.
Now decide if the handle has a ledge (that the rim will sit on top of) or if the handle has a notch (sometimes called a "closed notch") that has a top and bottom that the rim will fit into.
Remember that Bushel Basket Handles will be placed against the inside or outside of the wall of the basket while the other styles will staddle or go across the top or opening of the basket and the tips are inserted to the inside of the basket.
Handles with a ledge: First look at the tips of the handle. They may need to be trimmed with a knife so they are thinner. Only the tips of the handle are inserted into the weaving, usually behind 1 - 3 rows of weaving. Every basket is different, so judge accordingly. This will stabilize the handle. If you try to force too much of the handle into the weaving, the basket will become distorted.
The inside rim is placed against the inside of the basket. The rim will lay tight against the handle and sit on top of the ledge. Attach the outside rim. Make sure the rim overlaps are not at the handle. Lash your rim. It always looks nice to "X" lash at the handle, even if you only single lash the rest of the basket. (When the lasher comes into the space before the handle spoke, do not bring it to the front (toward you), instead take the lasher behind the handle, up and out to the front on the right side. Bring the lasher across the rim in front of the handle and into the space on the left. Bring the lasher straight up and out to the front. Make the "X" by crossing the front of the rim (weaving to the right) and insert into the space on the right of the handle. Continue single lashing around the basket. Repeat on the other side.) Your handle is now held in place by the rim.

Handles with a notch: First look at the tips of the handle. They may need to be trimmed with a knife so they are thinner. Only the tips of the handle are inserted into the weaving, usually behind 1 - 3 rows of weaving. Every basket is different, so judge accordingly. This will stabilize the handle. If you try to force too much of the handle into the weaving, the basket will become distorted.
These handles are most commonly placed on the inside of the basket, but may be placed on the outside if it is pleasing to the eye.
The inside rim is placed against the inside of the basket. The rim will lay tight against the handle and sit into the notch. The notch may not be large enough for the rim. Two choices, cut the rim or cut the notch. In almost all cases it is easier to cut the rim material. With a sharp knife, trim just enough off the rim so that it fits snugly into the notch. You can taper the cut or confirm the cut to the exact shape of the notch.
Attach the outside rim. Make sure the rim overlaps are not at the handle. Lash your rim. See above for lashing suggestion.

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Decorating Baskets
Stencils
  • Q: I have seen many baskets over the Internet that have stenciling on them, but I can't find any information about the stenciling. Do you have any tips?
A: To stencil a basket you need a smooth, dry surface for the best results. If you use flat reed you may want to lightly sand it first. Our tulip poplar stencil strips, maple or thin ash work very nicely for stenciling.
We carry Paint Crayons which work on well on baskets since the paint will not run
. The method that works well on baskets is to rub the crayon on a palette (a piece of waxed paper, etc.) Then wearing disposable rubber gloves, dab the paint on the palette with your finger. Drug stores carry individual rubber fingers, called finger cots, that work great. The stencil needs to be held firmly against the surface to be stenciled, then just dab the paint from your gloved finger into the opening of the stencil using a tapping motion. Carefully lift the stencil away from the surface of the basket.
The stencil strip can also be stenciled before weaving it into the basket. It is kind of tricky to get the stencils in the proper position this way, though. You need to measure the spaces on your basket carefully, so the designs line up correctly or stencil a continuous design so the spacing won't matter.
Look for the mini stencils in the on-line catalog.

Rub-on Paint Designs
Another option for those of us who don't paint or stay in the lines very well, are the Rub-on Paint Designs in over 30 designs, many new smaller designs are available. These work like transfer letters. Just rub the pre-painted design onto the basket using a wooden popsicle stick. The rub-ons can be applied to handles as well as stencil strips.
Hint - when applying the transfer to a finished basket, place a hard surface (such as a coffee can or block of wood) on the inside of the basket for support.

Overlays
Another option is to add dyed reed after the basket is finished. This includes curls, flower curls, trellis and embroidery designs, woven embellishments, etc. To see examples, check out the following patterns in the on-line catalog:
Decorations I & II by Olney and Designer Denim by Hawkins
Raspberry Pickin' Basket by Bright & Raspberry Tea by Kraayeveld
There are many, many, many more patterns with decorating ideas. Visit the on-line catalog and look around, don't forget to try the search feature with words like: curls, overlay, etc..

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Feet per Pound of Reed
  • Q: How much reed is in a pound?
A: The number of feet per pound of reed will depend on the size of the reed, the smaller the size, the more feet per pound. Here is a chart:
Approximate number of Feet per Pound
Size Flat Reed
Flat Oval
Half Round
11/64" 420 ft. 320 ft. 1/8" - 800 ft
3/16" 400 ft. 300 ft. N/A
1/4" 370 ft. 275 ft. 200 ft.
7 mm 300 ft. 250 ft. 125 ft.
3/8" 265 ft. 175 ft. 70 ft.
1/2" 185 ft. 90 ft. 30 ft.
5/8" 120 ft. 60 ft. 24 ft.
3/4" 90 ft. 35 ft. 18 ft.
7/8" 80 ft. N/A N/A
1" 75 ft. N/A N/A
N/A= Not available
Size Round Reed
#00 ~ 1mm 3,000 ft.
#0 ~ 1-1/4mm 2,200 ft.
#1 ~1-1/2mm 1,600 ft.
#2 ~ 1-3/4mm 1,100 ft.
#3 ~ 2-1/4mm 750 ft.
#4 ~ 2-3/4mm 500 ft.
#5 ~ 3-1/4/3-1/2mm 350 ft.
#5-1/2 ~ 4mm 200 ft.
#6 ~ 4-1/4/4-1/2mm 160 ft.
#7 ~ 5/5-1/4mm 135 ft.
#8 ~ 6mm 105 ft.
#9 ~ 6-1//7mm 90 ft.
#10 ~ 8mm 80 ft.
#12 ~ 10mm 35 ft.
N/A= Not available
Please remember that these numbers are approximate. The thickness or thiness of the reed will affect the total number of feet in a coil.
Always allow for waste. The pieces may be shorter or longer than the stakes that you need for a particular basket.
See How Much Reed is Needed to Weave a Basket for help deciding how much reed you need to order.

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Flat Bottoms
  • Q: I would like some suggestions on keeping the bottom of my baskets flat after they are made. I have soaked them and reshaped them but they do not always sit flat, they wobble a bit. What can I do?
A: This is a common problem in baskets made with overlapped and stapled "D" handles. For a square or rectangular basket, put 2 skids on the bottom running parallel to the handle nearest to the outside edges of the basket. Use flat oval the same width of your stakes and the length of the side of the basket and "X" lash in place with natural cane, bleached cane or flat reed. Shave down each end and slip it under the last spoke on the bottom that goes over the row where the skid is to rest. Not only will this level the basket, but adds support to the base of a basket. Stapled handles are the oldest style around, long before the new dovetailed kind being sold today. There are still many people who swear by them as being the best. Also, whereas the newer style handles are all machine made, the overlapped and stapled kind are splits peeled from a log, bent around a frame and allowed to dry in place. They are then stapled to hold their shape. Many times, they will list to one side after being removed from the frame, but usually can be rocked back to an upright position.
To level without runners,wet the bottom of the basket, place your thumbs to the inside of the corners and push up. Do this on each corner so the corners rest on the table. Push the center up, leave the basket upside-down to dry with a weight on the bottom.

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Getting Started
  • Q: I want to learn basket weaving, how do I get started?
A: The best way to start weaving is to purchase a kit, the directions and all the supplies are included. You won't have lots of supplies left over. A wide variety of baskets can be found in kit form.
Almost all the kits that we sell are geared toward beginner weavers. Try any of the Burgundy Hill Collection, Easy Country (enough materials to make two of the same baskets), Blue Ridge or Jadvick and new Coiled Kits.
If you are interested in a ribbed style basket, start with a Melon, then Potato. The only kits from the above collections that we wouldn't recommend starting with are: the Gran's Cotton, Stairstep, & Potato. These are all great baskets and the instructions are written for beginners, but it's best to develop some weaving skills before you try these baskets.
To view the kits we carry, please visit the secure on-line catalog.

Some good books to start with are: Basket Beginnings (a classic) by Grace Kabel, Pine Needle Basketry (coiling pine needles) by Mallow, Wicker Basketry (the round reed Bible) by Flo Hoppe, and many more - see the secure on-line catalog for a complete list of all the books we carry.

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Gourd Cleaning and Decorating
  • Q: How can I clean the outside of my dried gourds?
A: Run the gourd under warm water for a few minutes (or hold under water in a bucket), the outer epidermis will soften and you can start scraping it off. I mostly use a potters tool (bent metal - a round loop on one side and a squared loop on the other side). After the peeling, waxy layer is removed, let dry and sand with fine sanpaper if needed. Now I cut open the gourd. You may or may not have to clean the inside, just depends on the look you want. Sometimes the pulp is very smooth and attractive. I use the scraping tool again to clean the inside. You may want to dampen the pulp.
ALWAYS wear a mask while working with gourd dust.
Sometimes I use my dremel tool to finish cleaning the inside. You can use a variety of products to color a gourd, basketry dyes, acrylic paints, leather dye, etc. Experiment to see which you like best. Next time you dye reed, throw some gourd scrap in and see what they look like. I like inks and the reed dyes.

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Hen Baskets

A: You should have 3 round or oval hoops, one large, two smaller (this answer is based on 8" & 12" round hoops, written from the right-hand point of view). The larger hoop goes in the center (hoops A, B, C from left to right, side-by-side). Hold the 3 hoops in your left hand. Fold a very flexible, soaked weaver in half around the A hoop. This gives you a top weaver and a bottom weaver. The top weaver will be under hoop A and the bottom weaver is over hoop A. Start weaving with the bottom weaver. Go under hoop B and over hoop C. The weaver goes around and under hoop C and now over hoop B. The wrong side of the weaver will face up every other row. It's a good idea to choose the nicest, most flexible weaver to get started. Keep weaving back and forth, pulling hard on the weaver to keep the hoops close together. After 2" let the end hang and do the same for the other side, using your top weaver. Once the handle is finished (don't cut the weaver), put in your brace. The brace should be made from stiff, heavy card board no more than an inch wide by 9-1/2" long. Cut a V into each end. Pull apart the hoops and insert the brace so hoops A & C fit into the V cuts. Weave one more inch with each weaver. Now you are ready to insert the ribs.

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How Handles are Measured

A: The first dimension listed in the catalog is the length of the handle which is measured from the top of the notch on one side, up over the top of the handle and down the other side to the top of the other notch.
The overall length is the tip-to-tip measurement which includes the notches.
The width is simply the width of the wood.
The critical dimension is the spread. This is the horizontal distance from one side of the handle to the other. If the diameter of the basket is 10", you will need to order a 10" spread handle.
It can be a challenge determining the correct handle needed for a particular basket if the finished size of the basket isn't stated in the pattern. Sometimes it is easier to wait until the basket is partially woven before choosing a handle.
Handle Measurements

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How Much Reed is Needed to Weave a Basket
  • Q: I want to weave a basket, but the pattern doesn't tell me how much reed I will need. How do I know?
A: Our print catalog and on-line catalog list the approximate number of feet per one pound coil for each size of reed. For example: 1/2" flat reed has approximately 185 feet per one pound coil.
The way to approximate how much you need for a particular basket is to take the number of stakes times the length and divide by 12 to get the number of feet needed. For example: 5 stakes at 20" and 7 stakes at 18" = approximately 19 feet. Now divide 185 by 19 = 9 baskets.
For each size of reed on the sides of the basket, take the number of rows of weaving, times the diameter of the basket (add 4 inches to the diameter for the overlap) divided by 12 to get the number of feet needed. If you do not know the diameter of the basket, take the base measurement and add together. For example: the base measures 10" x 12", so take 10" + 10" + 12" + 12" = 44" + 4" overlap = 48" approximate diameter.

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How to Dye Reed

A: The directions for dyeing reed will vary slightly from dye to dye. The dye packet should include the specific instructions for that particular dye.
The general directions are: dissolve the dye powder in warm water and add to the dye pot.

Always dye reed in areas that cannot be hurt by spills.

It is best to use enamel, aluminum or plastic containers (use plastic only if the dye is a cold water dye). You will need a container that is large enough to allow the reed coil to loosen (so the dye can reach all parts equally). You will need a stir stick and tongs to lift the reed out of the water. You may need measuring tools (depending on the type of dye or if you are adding salt), a funnel to pour the dye into a glass container to save for future use (not all dyes can be saved, please read the instructions carefully), strainer (always strain the dye before storage or reuse to remove any mold, old reed hairs or dirt), a hot plate to heat dye bath (check grocery stores for portable, one burner hot plates).
Do not use your dyeing utensils and containers for food.

Always use a test strip to make sure the color is what you expected (here's a chance to use up the yucky pieces of reed).

The dye water should completely cover the materials to be dyed (see dye packet for specific amount of water to be added). Weight the materials down or agitate the materials every couple of minutes, usually, dye no more than one pound of reed at a time.

Keep the dye bath at a simmer for good color penetration and deepest color.
Leave the reed in the dye bath until the reed has reached the color you like (remember that the reed will dry to a lighter color), this could take 5 minutes or 2 hours. There will come a point where the reed will not change color any more, this is the extent of the color you will get from that particular dye. If you want a darker shade of the same color, add another dye packet, agitate well and let the dyebath simmer.

Remove the reed from the dye bath and rinse in cold water until the water runs clear. Soak the reed in hot water with Retayne for at least 20 minutes, agitate the reed several times. Retayne helps to lock the color into the reed. It reduces dye bleed during weaving. Retayne can be purchased at fabric or quilting shops.
If you have chemical allergies, please take extreme caution while dyeing reed!
See
Bleeding Reed on the Tips Page for more suggestions.

Remember that you can always add more water to a dye bath to lighten the dye, but if it's too light, you can't take water away.

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How to Dye Pine Needles

A: The directions for dyeing will vary slightly from dye to dye. The dye packet should include the specific instructions for that particular dye.
When dyeing pine needles you must use HOT/simmering water. Some people will bake them in the oven at a low temperature until they reach the color they want. Needles can also be placed in a dye pot on a burner and simmered until the desired color is reached.
Always remember to use an enamel or aluminium dye pot.
Either the Basketree or ACP brands will work (just use hot water with ACP dye not cold water).
Try dried green needles for lighter colors and brown needles for darker colors.
After dyeing, rinse the needles well in cold water. Soak the needles in hot water with Retayne for at least 20 minutes. Retayne helps to lock the color into the needles. It reduces dye bleed during weaving. Retayne can be purchased at fabric or quilting shops.

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How to Dye Seagrass

A: Seagrass can be dyed like reed but there are a few small differences. You must find any ends and secure them with rubber bands or twist ties or the strands will unravel during the dyeing process. Loosely tie string or long twist ties around the coil so that the coil may loosen and all parts will receive the dye but you do not want the coil to be loose or you will have a knotted mess at the end.
Dye the seagrass in a large pot at a low simmer with plenty of dye until it is the color that you like, this may take as long as 2 hours. Seagrass absorbs more dye than reed. I usually start with 2 packets of dye. Not all colors will work well since you are not working with a "white material".
Remember that the color will dry lighter than it appears when wet.

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Kid's Projects
  • Q: I'm in charge of the bible school craft projects this year, what is a good basket weaving project for kids?
A: For a quick, easy and cheap project; try the drilled wooden bases.
These are great for even the youngest children because you can set up the spokes ahead of time and the weaving can be done with colorful string, yarn, grasses or anything flexible. The top can be dunked into water and a simple rolled border added or the spokes can be pushed down into the weaving for a quick finish.
See the books: Basketry by Christopher and Earth Basketry by Tod for instructions on using drilled wooden bases.
5 ply birch bases - Round Round Drilled Base
3" (9 holes)    
4" (11 holes)    
6" (19 holes)     Oval Drilled Base
8" (23 holes)    
10" (29 holes)
(also available in oval and heart shaped)

Weave place mats from heavy paper or flat reed.
The pattern can be a simple plait of over 1, under 1 or more complicated twills depending on the age group. String can be used to stitch the edges of paper together or lash a "rim" in place.

See the free Carolina Candy Basket
pattern: Carolina Candy Basket:
www.countryseat.com/ freepatterncandy.htm .

Weave around a Styrofoam cup.
Round reed can be inserted across the cup near the bottom. A base can be twined for a couple inches or start weaving up the sides right away, using the shape of the cup as a mold. After the weaving is finished and secured, break away the Styrofoam. Voila', a finished basket.
Try Plastic Strapping - no water needed. Plastic strapping works great in a hexagonal (or Shaker) weave or try diagonally plaited baskets. Will also work as a reed substitute or for placemats. Mostly white to gray in color, sometimes mixed color (blues, reds, yellows) bundles are available.

For more information and projects, please visit our Basket Weaving Projects for Children Page

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Lashing a Rim
  • Q: Is there a formula for determining the length of reed needed to lash a basket?
A: You can figure 2½ - 3 times the distance around the rim of the finished basket. To double lash (or X lash) the rim, figure 4 - 5 times the circumference of the basket.

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Moldy Reed/Baskets

A: Just soak the moldy reed in warm water with a little chlorine bleach. Rinse thoroughly and hang to dry in the sun. Usually that's all it takes to stop the growth of the mold. If any discoloring remains on your reed, use the reed in your next dark dye bath.

If your reed basket is moldy or has mildew spots, you'll need to take one or more of these steps:
Let the basket dry completely and brush off any residue with a stiff brush.
Wash the basket in warm soapy water with a stiff brush.
Wash the basket in warm water with a small amount of bleach added to the water, use a stiff brush on the moldy areas.
If the basket is discolored from the mold, over-dye the basket or use a stain such as Weaver's Stain in walnut, driftwood or black walnut.
In the future, always store baskets and basketmaking materials in paper bags or other containers that allow for air flow or make completely sure that the materials are bone dry and that no moisture can get into the containers. Mold forms very easily on reed and many other natural materials.

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Nantucket Materials

A: The size of materials is really based on personal preference. Some people prefer a finer, more delicate looking Nantucket , while others may like the rugged or antique look of a basket woven with larger sizes of cane. Here are our suggestions for the molds that we carry.
Staves are listed first/weavers second.
#00 - Medium/Carriage
#1  - 4mm/Carriage
#2  - 5mm/Carriage or Superfine
#3  - 5mm/Carriage or Superfine
#4  - 6mm/Superfine or FineFine
#5  - 6mm/FineFine or Fine
#6  - 6mm/Fine or Narrow Medium
#7  - 6mm or Slab rattan/Narrow Medium
#8  - Slab rattan/Narrow Medium or Medium
Remember, these are just suggestions. Try weaving on the same mold with different sizes to see what you like the best.
  • Q: How do I know how much material I will need to weave a Nantucket basket?
A: Here is a rough formula to figure out 6mm stakes (from Martha Lawrence's book Lightship Baskets of Nantucket): the diameter of the mold x 10 = ? + 1 to give an uneven number of staves. Now you must measure the approximate length of the staves x the number above and divide by 12 to give the number of feet.
Remember: your staves should be about 1/16" apart, you may have to add or subtract staves when you actually put them on the mold
In order to determine the approximate amount of weavers needed: count how many rows are in one inch x the number if inches of weaving x the circumference = ?, now divide by 12 to give the number of feet.
Carriage cane through Common cane is available in 1,000 foot hanks, 500 foot 1/2 hanks and 25 foot bundles. 4mm, 5mm and 6mm are available in 500 foot hanks. Slab rattan is available in 250 foot hanks.
Handle Suggestions:
#1  - 11" Plain Oak Swing Handle
#2  - 12" Plain Oak Swing Handle
#3  - 12" Plain Oak Swing Handle
#4  - 15" Plain Oak Swing Handle
#5  - 20" Plain Oak Swing Handle
#6  - 22" Plain Oak Swing Handle
#7  - 26" Plain Oak Swing Handle
#8  - 26" Plain Oak Swing Handle
Please keep in mind that these handles will not be sized correctly for a nesting set. You will have to adjust the height of the handle.

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Paper Catalog:
Click here to see and print the pdf version of our paper catalog.
New products are added to the secure online catalog as they arrive.
Please keep the Country Seat Courier newsletters as they contain new products and any changes to the print catalog. You can always read the current and past 6 months Country Seat Courier Newsletters online at our Newsletter Page
Click HERE to start on-line shopping 24 hours a day.
If you have any questions please e-mail us at weaving@countryseat.com.

The Country Seat, Inc.
Basketry, Gourd Weaving & Chair Seating Supplies
1013 Old Philly Pike
Kempton, Pennsylvania 19529-9321 USA
Phone: 610-756-6124
e-mail: weaving@countryseat.com
Fax: 610-756-0088
web site: www.countryseat.com

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