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Weaving wheat; this holiday wreath is easier than it looks.

The art of weaving wheat is timeless, celebrating the richness of the earth and using a staple of civilized life as the decorative element. It harks back to times when Man harvested wheat by sickle and evolved ceremonies to appease the gods and assure the fecundity of the land. Everywhere that wheat grows, from Sweden to Russia to Africa, cultures developed their own rites, symbols, and techniques for weaving the grass.

Craftsman Morgyn Owens Celli from Long Beach, California, is fascinated by this art, and has studied its origins and traditions throughout the world. He designed this simple wreath to introduce Sunset readers to this delicate and rewarding craft. You could use it to adorn a door, window, or wall in celebration of Thanksgiving or the Christmas holiday. The symmetrical pattern of the intersecting stalks is handsome enough to hang throughout the year.

What you need, where to get it

Craft stores, hobby shops, and some florists sell dry stalks of wheat. Wheat sold by the ounce or in bundles costs about $3 for 100 stalks, (You'll need 168 stalks, about 8 ounces, for this project.) Look for undyed, fumigated wheat with stems that are at least 13 inches long from the neck to the base. It's a good idea to have extra wheat, so you can practice the basic weave in the interlocking heart shapes.

If you can't find straw locally, it can be ordered by mail. Two Midwestern locations are Doxie Keller, 127 W. 30th St., Hutchinson, Kans. 67502, (316) 6656256; and Bethel College Granary, 300 E. 29th St., North Newton, Kans. 67117, 283-3940. They offer different kinds of wheat and sell it for about $4 per 8 ounces, plus postage. For an order form or a free catalog, send a stamped, selfaddressed envelope.

You'll also need these materials: clothespins, scissors, a ruler, a towel, 10-inchdiameter hoop, and carpet thread (heavy linen) or raffia.

Dry wheat stems are too dry and brittle for weaving. To make them more pliable, soak them for an hour in a bathtub or long wallpaper tray. After that, keep them wrapped in a damp towel while you work. If any leaves remain on the stalks, you can slide them off after soaking.

The basic weave

Our wreath has two parts: intersecting stalks, onto which are tied the six interlocking heart shapes. The beart shapes will require a little practice, but anyone from children to grandparents will be able to master them. The first four pictures above show steps for making the chain of hearts.

The key to the weave is working with four stems at a time. Pretend you are working a five-pointed star with one point missing. Hold the bundle vertically, and fold the lowest straw over the top one, filling in the gap of the missing arm. Don't bend the straws all the way over-try to maintain a flat plane on the top.
COPYRIGHT 1988 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Nov 1, 1988
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