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Laal Yak is made by Lorna Singleton at her workshop in Cumbria, one of only 2 professional oak 'Swillers' in the country.
Laal Yak is a shoulder bag made from boiled and riven oak woven basket, with oak bark tanned leather lid and strap. An oaky mix of a fishing creel and a binocular case, refined to be worn everyday. Both oak and leather will improve with age.
The term swill basket comes from the action of swilling the cockles in water to rinse them. Spelk is a dialect work for a splinter or a splint of wood, they could be called split wood or splint baskets but locally they have always been spelks or swills.
In it’s simplest form making spelk baskets involves splitting green wood along the grain into strips, in Lorna's local tradition these are called spelks and taws.
Lorna strives to carry on this tradition, continuing the work of generations of basketmakers and woodland workers before her, the skills and knowledge they have kept alive.
A stem of oak is cleft using wedges or a froe before being boiled in a trough overnight to soften them. They are then riven in half and again until they are of weaving thickness, usually 1-2mm. After a re-soak and a little more fettling the oak is woven into baskets and other items.