Marking the Harvest season : how to make corn dollies

Using my All Year Round book we have been travelling through the year marking the seasons in simple, homely ways. We are really enjoying the Autumn ideas – especially the Gnome garden on the nature table.

For Lammas (which is a festival to celebrate the beginning of the Harvest on the 1st August) we made corn dollies and a loaf of bread.

Corn dollies date back over 5,000 years and are a traditional that is found all over the world. The simple act of plaiting corn allows us to reconnect with the season, to pause and appreciate the fact that this harvest will keep us sustained throughout the year. This craft can be used during the whole of Harvest!

What you need
3 straws of equal length (they can be barley, corn, oats or rye)
Thread in matching colour
Ribbon (we raided our gift ribbon jar)

We had oats, barley and corn self-seed underneath our bird feeders in the gardern, but you can often find stray straws in the country lanes – please don’t pick from a farmer’s field without permission! If you aren’t in a crop growing area and in the UK visit the Guild of Straw Craftsmen to find suppliers.

The Countryman’s favour dolllies are very simple to make but a little one will find them fiddly and I would recommend that this is a one-to-one grown-up and child activity.

We soaked our straws in the bath.

The straws need to be soaked in warm water before working for an hour – a lot of bugs needed rescuing whilst we were doing this!

We started with wheat as it is meant to be the best straws for plaiting.

When your straws are pliable take three straws of equal length, and using your thread tie them together just below the ears.

My daughter took the photos of me plaiting!

Simply plait together until they are around 20cm long.

The straws get thicker as you got down the stem.

Twist the plait into shape and tie with your ribbon!

We gave some away to Grandma and Nanny, and the rest are in our nature garden with the Gnomes!

How do you mark Harvest with your family? I would love to hear your traditions.

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