Straw has been used traditionally for basketry in Scotland in a variety of ways. Bundles of it are twined together to make kishies in Shetland, it is sewn in coils to make coisans in the Western Isles, and toigs in Shetland, and of course the famous Orkney chairs are woven with straw. The straw from older varieties of oats are often better for basketmaking than the newer ones because they have longer softer stems. Kishie maker Ewen Balfour still grows traditional 'Shetland Aets' and describes the growing and harvesting of them in his article The Kishie Makers Year

Use of Oat Straw in Shetland

Oats were the staple grain in the Shetland Islands prior to the 20th Century and as in all rural communities at that time their use was completely sustainable, nothing was wasted. The threshed grain used for porridge, flour and animal …Continue reading “Use of Oat Straw in Shetland”


The ciosan  The ciosan is a small, closely woven basket, formerly made on the Western Isles and along the west coast. It is a coiled basket made from sea-bent (marram grass), or sometimes straw. The coils are stitched together using …Continue reading “Ciosan”