One minute I’m digging spuds for dinner and the next I’m booking flights to Spain to weave baskets by the sea. Did I mention I can be a bit impulsive? In fairness, I had been on this basket weaving course before so it wasn’t a complete unknown. Just days after I secured a place due to a cancellation, I arrived in Vilanova i la Geltrú to attend a Weaving by the Sea course.

If you think I’m a bit mad spending a week weaving baskets in Spain, then I should mention there were people there from as far away as Australia, Canada, America and many other European countries. In fact, among the ninety participants doing the various courses were people from over thirteen countries.

What makes people travel thousands of miles to spend their holiday time turning willow, grass, bark and other materials into baskets, or trays?

Well, many go on such holidays to learn a new craft or improve their skills. The first year I went to Weaving by the Sea (in 2014) I was in awe of others there who weave every day for a living. I am what I call a ‘serial course weaver’ in that I only weave when I’m on a course. But so many of the talented craftspeople I’ve met over the years earn some or all of their living from making baskets. These experienced weavers sit alongside complete beginners as we all learn from the tutors and each other. This type of experiential learning and sharing is an important aspect of going on creative courses.


Learning or developing a craft on holidays is a great way to relax. While there are frustrating moments when what you’re working on isn’t going well, weaving and other crafts are a time for mindfulness and relaxation. The rhythm of weaving is both soothing and relaxing, and one really can’t worry about mundane things – like if you left the immersion on at home – when you are weaving a basket.

But why travel to Catalonia for a course? Don’t we have great weavers in Ireland? We do indeed, and I’ve had the privilege of learning from many of them. But for me and others, going away on holidays has an extra dimension when it involves learning or improving a skill. It also allows for a culturally immersive experience as we weave baskets inspired by the local fishermen’s nets or by the native grasses growing locally.

Surrounded by people from many different cultures also allows one to learn about their crafts and customs. There is a sense of appreciation for creativity, arts and crafts among those on the course. While many are basket makers, many more work in different aspects of the creative industries. Spending time chatting and learning from a jeweler, ceramist, potter, knitter, photographer, writer, visual artist or knitter is a very important part of what makes Weaving by the Sea special.


Those who know me also know I love a bit of craic, from swimming or yoga at sunrise to rooftop sunsets, there is great social interaction. After class you would find many of us in the sea chatting as we relaxed sore shoulders in the warm Mediterranean waters after a day weaving. Evenings were spent going to tapas bars or restaurants and trying to decipher the menus written in Catalan. One evening we had a “bring along something” meal and it was such fun to watch the sunset at a table full of people sharing a very odd mixture of foods, stories, laughs and song.

I laughed, listened and learned and made great friends from all over the world, many of whom issued invitations for me to visit. They may regret that when I knock on their door!

Thank you to Mai, Mònica, Tim and François, and my fellow participants for sharing your skills and expertise. I will continue to weave baskets as I weave my way through life making impulsive decisions and gathering friends along the way.

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