When first starting out all you will need is a bodkin. although if you did not have a bodkin you could scrape by with a large flat screw driver.
Soaking and mellowing the willow
You will need to soak your willow for around a day per foot length. So a six foot length would soak for six days and then would be left out for a day to mellow. This means that you have to prepare well in advance. If you want to make a basket from four foot lengths of willow, then you need to start soaking five days before.