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Salisbury woman’s handwoven, Shaker-style baskets inspired by nature

Raise your hand if you’ve ever taken your plastic laundry basket out to harvest your garden. No? How about a trash bag? Go ahead, no one’s looking… We’ve all been there. Sometimes it’s necessary; all that kale just plain doesn’t fit in the cute normal-sized garden basket.
Kristine “Kris” Myrick Andrews knows what you’re going through. She’s actually been there; which is why, 35 years ago, she decided to learn how to make her own baskets.
“I needed a big basket for my gardens,” she said in an interview last month.
So the Bridport native and her sister Kim, joined a basket-weaving workshop at Frog Hollow.
The over-under-over-under technique wasn’t new for Andrews. She was a textile design major at the University of Vermont (Class of ‘76) and specialized on the loom. “I really liked the weaving,” she said.
After graduating she sold some of her weavings at craft shows, so it wasn’t difficult after she began making baskets to add them to her booth.
“I brought a few of the baskets I’d made to a show in the Adirondacks and they sold really well,” Andrews explained. This was back in 1982, a couple years after her and her husband Jim’s twin girls were born. “And that’s what I’ve done ever since.”
Plain and simple. 
Kristine Mryick Andrews vcreates beautiful baskets in all shapes and sizes. Independent photo Trent Campbell
The baskets Andrews makes come in all sizes from teeny-tiny baskets for display (or just because they’re super cute), to extra-extra large designs traditionally used in the fields.
“It’s an easy thing to sell because they’re useful,” said the multigenerational Vermonter with a strong sense of practicality.
She’s right, of course. Her baskets can be used for just about anything: fruits, veggies, pies, herbs, flowers, wool, knitting storage, picnics, eggs, birdhouses, cheese forms, blankets… you name it.
Andrews bases her basket-design on early Shaker, Appalachian and New England styles. She uses rattan to construct the basket and solid wood (typically oak or pine) for the handles and wooden base.
She soaks the rattan in the kitchen sink of her Salisbury home, then turns around, sets the wet material on the worn green table top and begins the process.
“I just weave over one, under one…” she said. “I use a ruler a lot to make sure the holes are nice and even. Then I add the rim and handles, sew down the top, torch the hairs off and add the wood bottom.”
Andrews said, it’s the placement of her hands that determines the shape of the basket. “It’s kind of like how a potter’s hands shape the clay,” she explained.
That’s how she developed her “swoopy” tulip basket-design — the ones that have a nice hour-glass shape to them.
Once the basket is assembled, she moves it across the lawn (excuse the clucking neighbor chickens who like to scratch in her beautifully landscaped lawn) to her garage-turned-studio, where she adds her signature “A” (for Andrews) mark, then stains and dries the baskets.
“These baskets should last a really long time,” she said. “Sometimes I can do a couple in a day; other times it’s just one a day.” That depends on how large the basket is and what style.
Andrews’ baskets range from $28 for a teeny-tiny basket up to almost $300 for the largest size. The majority, Andrews said, are in the $80-$90 range.
“I really like the process,” said Andrews, who now makes the majority of her baskets in the winter months. For the past 12-15 years, she’s spent the summer months landscaping with her daughter Ash. Together they run Mountain Laurel, maintaining and building gardens in Addison County.
Andrews still sells her baskets at craft shows and a few stores in Vermont, New York and Connecticut. But the best place to go — if you’re ready to stop harvesting your gardens in plastic laundry baskets or trash bags — is Andrew’s Salisbury studio at 642 Smead Road. Check out her website for more information at naturallyinspiredbaskets.com or give a call (802) 352-4734.

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