OK, like I need a new hobby. But I got interested in basket making through my sister, and I had the chance to spend a few days in Eastern Washington, so it seemed like a good time to gather some raw materials.
The Ponderosa Pine grows freely on the eastern slopes of the Cascades and throughout Eastern Washington, and just down the hill from our friends' place was a timber sale area, with dozens of huge trees already cut and on the ground. I hopped out with my Trader Joe's 99 cent shopping bag, and started collecting. The trees had been down long enough that the big bundles of needles were perfectly dried, and it only took a few minutes to fill up my bag. So I filled another one. And another. In half an hour I had four Trader Joe's bags, stuffed to the brim. Sixteen pounds of needles. Cool.
Once we got home a few days later, I stuck the four overstuffed bags in the freezer for a few days (this kills any little hitchhikers that may have come home with the needles), then sorted out the broken needles and packaged up the rest. I plan to share them with my sister; she's wanted to add pine needle basketry to her basket-making skills.
You can see a few of my sister's baskets here.