Mountains of Canvas

by jericho | February 01, 2012 at 11:36 AM | categories: yurt, building, vermont | View Comments

It's been quite a busy week up here in the NEK. Actually I guess it has been more like a week and a half since I last posted. Oops! It's hard to keep up with it when there is so much yurt building to do!

Jean-Paul is in CA for work this week, so I decided to try tackling the canvas since that is something that is mostly a one person job. I spent a long time on the phone and the internet a few weeks back trying to figure out the best type of canvas to get and also to find a source for that canvas. The book that we have recommends 12oz waterproofed, mildew resistant, fire retardant cotton canvas, but says that 10 or 15oz would work as well. However, a friend who lived in a yurt for a while recommended straight up untreated cotton canvas for better breathability. She said that when the untreated canvas gets wet for the first time the fibers will swell and the fabric will be naturally waterproofed. After calling around and finally getting in touch with the people who treat most of the cotton canvas that is on the market I found out that the waterproofing is a mix of paraffin and a flourocarbon; the fire retardant is "phosphorous based"; and the mildew resistance is something that is not a heavy metal (I was assured that they no longer use mercury.What a relief.). Jean-Paul then did a little research and found out that flourocarbons tend to cause cancer and we decided that perhaps we would try our luck with untreated canvas after all. So...

I ordered a 100 yard roll of 10oz army duck canvas from Top Value Fabrics. We only need about 50 yards (because this fabric is 60 inches wide), but our options were 100 yards for $330 or 50 yards for $250 so it seemed to make more sense to buy the 100 and then have extra for a replacement cover, patches, etc. The roll is ridiculously heavy though. Dad and I managed to hang it up in the garage as you can see below, but I thought we might be in the running for a Darwin award: "Father and daughter squashed by giant roll of canvas".

I initially thought that I would be using my great grandmother's sewing machine for this project since it is an old Singer (so beautiful!) and has done some heavy duty work in the past. Sadly, the thread that I got (V-92 bonded polyester) is too thick for the machine and the bobbin wouldn't work right. Before panicking I decided to try out my own modern machine and it worked!! Phew.

Working with all of this canvas is quite a challenge. The name of this post doesn't even begin to describe it. Last night, I finished all of the sewing that I can do on the roof until we have the frame up and I can fit it exactly. It felt a little strange though because I finished it, but there isn't enough room in the house to spread it out and look at it so I just have to hope that I put together all of the pieces properly and my seams are facing the right direction. Considering the amount of time that I thought about each pieces before I sewed it (my brain seriously hurt), I am fairly confident that it will be fine, but I am looking forward to trying it out next week!

While I've been busy sewing, Dad has also been hard at work on the crown or Tono. This is the circle at the top of the yurt that all of the roof poles attach to and where light shines down in a lovely fashion which is part of what makes a yurt so awesome. Also, it is where a chimney will come out if we end up spending a winter in there. The pictures below show Dad drilling holes at a 32 degree angle for the roof poles using a wooden jig that he made and the top part of the crown that will attach to the piece he is drilling. Spacing the holes was a bit tricky so we ended up with one more than we should have, but no worries! We'll just add another rafter. Yurts are so forgiving.

In the name of full disclosure I feel that I have to add a note stating that I have not spent every minute of my time working on the yurt (oh, the guilt!). I also spent a day at my aunt Robin's and she taught my aunt Wendy and I the art of Japanese braiding called Kumihimo. Now I am super excited for the Japanese-Mongolian fusion that will be our yurt decorated with beautiful braids!! Not to mention all of the great gift possibilities...

And, Mom also took the time on Tuesday to teach me how to make a ruffly nuno felt scarf. Not sure I can really link this to the yurt except to say that I will be a very stylishly dressed occupant of a yurt.

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