07 April 2011

How To Make - Hill of Tara Shawl Pin

I got my copy of Inside Crochet 17 this morning, and, sitting down, in my dressing gown, with a cup of coffee, I whiled away a lovely hour or two reading it, and occasionally feigning surprise when I came across one of my patterns therein.

But, I did notice that the magazine hadn't had enough room to include the photo tutorial I had sent in on how to make the willow shawl pin I had used to pin Hill of Tara in place.

So, to save everyone from frustration, I have decided to add it here.
I hope it helps.

Hill of Tara Shawl

The best wood to use for a simple brooch like this is willow. I have used weeping willow for this tutorial, but any willow will work, if you learn to handle it correctly.

An important thing to remember before you begin, is that willow grows wild in many areas. Please don't harvest wild willow. As with many trees, it is very easy to introduce diseases to a tree if it's pruned incorrectly.

The best time to select and cut your willow withy would be after the leaves have all dropped, and before the buds begin to appear again. This is when the sap has retreated back into the heart of the tree and the branches will be less brittle, but this is not essential.

Select a withy no shorter than 1.5 meters, and no thicker than a pencil at the top. The tip should not be dead wood, either. With a sharp seceters, cut the withy diagonally across. If you can, cut a few withys in case your willow cracks.

willow brooch, step 1, how to make a brooch

Making the brooch:
Starting at the thicker end, create a simple knot, taking care not to over-stress the wood. You may find it easier to gently bend the withy gently several times in the direction you will be knotting it before you attempt the knot.

willow brooch, step 2, how to make a brooch

Thread the tip through the knot, twisting it around the ring formed by the knot. Continue to do this until one round is completed. This should take about 3 wraps.

willow brooch, step 3, how to make a brooch

From here, it's just a case of following the wrap around again, and again until you are left with approx. 6 inches of thin wood at the tip.

willow brooch, step 4, how to make a brooch

willow brooch, step 5, how to make a brooch

Holding the live wood with your thumb, wrap the tip gently but tightly in a ring over all the wraps. Secure the tip in place by threading it under the ring and ensuring it's tightened. Pull gently but firmly to ensure a tight knot. The willow will dry out and contract over time, so a tight knot now will ensure it doesn't become loose later on.

willow brooch, step 6, how to make a brooch

willow brooch, step 7, how to make a brooch

willow brooch, step 8, how to make a brooch

This can be used straight away, but it is recommended that it be left to dry out and “set” before the tip and top are neatened up with a seceters.

willow brooch, step 9, how to make a brooch

willow brooch, step 10, how to make a brooch

How to use the brooch:
To hold brooch in place, take a wooden hair stick, push through the centre of the brooch, into the fabric of the shawl.

Thread the stick out the fabric of the shawl and across the opposite side of the brooch. The weight of the shawl should hold the stick and shawl together.

willow brooch, step 11, how to make a brooch


  1. Oh! This is more than gorgeous. I have always adored these and now! -- you are so wonderful to share the how-to with all of us! Thank you!

  2. Well would ya just look at the talent of ya huh?!

  3. Ooo. What a clear tutorial. You've also got me wondering whether I could do something similar with bittersweet vine. Hmmm.

  4. This is a great tutorial. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Oh, how fun. Thank you for the tutorial!



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