As a relative newcomer to the art of pine needle basketry I, Nancy McKeown (NANTZ-ee meh-Q-en), would not consider myself a pine needle coiling expert per se (although surprisingly, I’ve won awards from several California county fairs for every one of my basketry entries so far), but if passion can make up for a lack in virtuosity, I must have stumbled into master territory. I am, however, a graphic artist who has worked producing projects for both print and web within a variety of commercial, non-profit, and educational positions over 30 years. The zest for visually clarifying information matches that of my relatively new-found love of pine needle basketry, and the two callings seemed to serendipitously come together as I wrote, illustrated, and published the Coiled Pine Needle Basketry Stitch List book.

Inspiration for both baskets and graphic design often comes from the magical outdoor life adventures that I’ve been fortunate to experience, most notably, living aboard and sailing a small boat on long ocean passages throughout the South Pacific for many years (and swimming there with mercifully-indifferent sharks). Having used functional nautical knots for years, I was especially drawn to the similarities in—and varieties of—the island basketmaking techniques encountered throughout Oceania and the Pacific Northwest, which led finally, in a rather roundabout way, to discovering the art of pine needle basketry.

Recently relocated from a longtime base in wonderfully eclectic Santa Cruz, California to a new home in Mariposa, known as the Gateway to Yosemite National Park—itself a well-known territory of masterly-skilled Native American basketmakers—I have also lived and worked as an ex-pat American in New Zealand, earning a Permanent Returning Resident Visa (PRRV) for my entire immediate family through work in graphics there. I am also a member of the National Basketry Organization.

Between graphics jobs and the latest pine needle project, I enjoy music, adventure travel, dog-sitting our grand-puppy, learning to garden alongside voracious squirrels after years at sea, exploring the outdoors via foot, bicycle, kayak, whitewater raft, SCUBA tank, or sailboat, and seizing upon excuses to shower folks with coiled pine needle gifts whenever occasions arise.