The smaller you carve, the more important the quality of the Basswood. Well seasoned Basswood carves and holds detail well. Older dryer Basswood does not carve or hold detail well. Most times it crumbles when you are carving the detail. Especially if you are a beginner, you need good well seasoned Basswood. By well seasoned, I mean the correct moisture content. About the best way to ensure that you have good basswood is to buy from a good and trusted dealer. Ask other more experienced carvers where they get their Basswood. Ask them about the "carveability" of the wood from their source. Is the seasoning correct and consistent in each purchase. Does their Basswood "carve well"?
Here's some "rules" I will be following = I hope:
Purchase from a dealer that harvests and seasons their own stock.
Purchase from a dealer who sells enough so they don't have "old" stock.
Limit my purchases to smaller orders, so it doesn't dry out on my shelf before I carve it.