Even, diagonal weaving — or finding the ara

13 July 2020

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Traditionally flax weaving is woven on the diagonal rather than vertically and horizontally, as in many other weaving traditional weaving styles and I’ve noticed that new flax weavers often struggle when they’re trying to get tidy, even diagonal weaving. One of the trickier things for a new weaver is how to work out if the weaving is all at the same level — or how to find the ara or path of the weaving. As weaving is completed row by row, as in knitting for example, working this out is a basic skill that’s essential to move on in weaving. It’s also essential if the weaver wants to achieve a straight edge at the top of the weaving, as illustrated in the kete here. Steps on how to achieve even, diagonal weaving are illustrated here using red and white arrows — the red arrows show the current movement and the white arrows show previous movements — as well as steps to take if a particular strip is too low or too high.

Select two strips so that the one pointing to the right (the purple one) is under the one pointing to the left (the green one). Pull the strips up gently but firmly to firm up and tension the weaving.


Once the strips appear to be tensioned firmly, fold the purple strip that is pointing to the right back down to the left. This is the height that all the strips will be matched to.


Move on to the next set of two strips, one green and one purple and pull them up gently but firmly as before to tension them. (The white arrow shows the previous strip that was folded back.)


Lay the strip pointing to the right back down, following the red arrow, checking that it’s at the same height as the previous strip folded back. Carry on doing this all the way around the top of the basket.


If a strip folds down lower than the others, as the lower purple one has here, then it will need to be woven up to reach the same height as the others.


To weave it up to the right height, fold back the green strip from the right that is the second green strip above it.



Bring the purple strip that was folded back forward again.


Bring the right-hand green strip over this.




When the purple strip is folded back down over the green strip, it is now at the same height as the others.

If the strip folds down higher than the others, as this purple one has here, which is folded back over two green strips instead of one, then this bit of weaving will need to be undone and woven again.


Bring the purple strip forward again and then pull the green strip pointing to the left back down out of the way.




The purple strip can now be folded back down on the correct green strip and is at the same height as the other top purple strips.

11 Responses to “Even, diagonal weaving — or finding the ara

  1. Jose Mclean Says:

    I am in South Australia and wonder if there is flax there or courses classes. I want to learn.

  2. Noeleen Rupapera Says:

    awesome i do have problems finding my ara, i will keep practising

  3. Teresa Cleary Says:

    Those coloured arrows are a great addition Ali - they really help with clarity.

  4. Ali Says:

    Kia ora Noeleen and Teresa, thanks for the feedback. It’s good to hear that the arrows are a useful addition.

  5. Amanda McIntyre Says:

    Received the three books today and love the colours!
    Thank you Ali for the lovely photos and clear instructions!

  6. Sophia Parlato Says:

    Hi Ali, finally received the set of books and even though I have read them before through others and libraries they will be a great addition to my library for future reference. Thank you

  7. Sally Gordon Says:

    Just ordered a 2nd book from Ali Brown I love my first one on large containers Ali’s instructions are so clear and easy to follow I often find other books hard to follow but Ali’s are fantastic Many tx Sally

  8. Ali Says:

    Thanks Sally, I’m glad you’re enjoying the books. Happy weaving! :-)

  9. Bronwyn Says:

    Fantastic set of books! Thank you so much Ali for the beautiful photos and clear instructions. I have been busy weaving flowers and baskets and they work! I highly recommend your books. Many thanks, Bron

  10. Elisabeth Degremont Says:

    Thanks for the tip regarding finding the ‘ara’ // This is where I always go wrong . Have just ordered your books and this year will see progress in my weaving technique .

  11. Ali Says:

    Hi Elisabeth, glad you found the tips useful. Happy weaving!