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Object Lessons: The Classic Herring Basket, Crafts Edition

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Object Lessons: The Classic Herring Basket, Crafts Edition

May 3, 2016

Lately we’ve been on a traditional-basket kick, with emails flying back and forth whenever an editor makes a new find. Our latest discovery comes via The New Craftsmen: the Herring, or “Cran” basket.

Sturdy, yet loosely woven, cran baskets were used by fishing communities throughout 19th-century Britain as a means of transporting and weighing herring. Thought to have originated in Scotland, crann means “measure of fresh herring” in Gaelic. As an official unit of measure, cran baskets were standardized and regulated by the British government. (You can read more about them and see some wonderful photos of quarter-crans in action at Woven Communities.)

Today, traditional craftsmen are reviving the cran-style basket, which though no longer standardized, exhibits the same classic open weave.

Quarter Cran by John Cowan, The New Craftsman, Remodelista.jpg

Above: Made from willow, hazel, oak, and rattan by Scottish, basket weaver John Cowan, the Quarter Cran Basket at The New Craftsman is £220 ($322).

Eighth Cran basket , The New Craftsman, Remoedlista

Above: Also by master basket weaver John Cowan, this Eighth Cran Basket is also available at The New Craftsman; £140 ($205).

Quarter Cran basket at David Mellor, remodelista

Above: Available through David Mellor, the Norfolk Herring Basket Quarter-Cran was handmade by Adrian Charlton and Ruth Kidd; £120 ($176).

Cran baskets by Norfolk basket Co., Remodelista

Above: Fifteen-inch Cran-Style Baskets made by Adrian Charlton are available directly through his company, Norfolk Basket Co.; £68 ($99). Contact Norfolk Basket Co. for more sizes and colors.

Quarter Cran basket , The New Craftsman, Remoedlista

Above: The top view of one of John Cowan’s Quarter Crans.

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