Thursday, December 18, 2008

Absence makes the tipi desire stonger...

Hmn, just cannot see any mention of 'man flu' on this one at all...particularly my strain. I felt a bit out of sorts about two a bit months ago now. Falling down the stairs blurry-eyed, one Tuesday morning, I got virtually no sympathy from the Queen Bee who thought I was trying to pull a fast one to stay at home and laze around. Two hours later on, having joined up all the Chickenpox spots to make a pretty realistic sketch of Mickey Mouse (albeit a sort of freckly, pointy mouse), I eventually managed to convince her that I might be **slightly** ill. Maybe asking for that little bell though was going a bit far.

Anyway, after the pox striking me and the rest of the hive here, I ended up having to change jobs which took a while. All in all, not much happening on the blog arena so apologies to the tipi fans there. It seems like tipi poles are dragging in lots of traffic while I have been away so to come in the next few days are:
  • the best things to buy the tipi maker in your family for xmas
  • more tipi pole information, where and how to buy in the South East of the UK
  • some more info on plans, for my first children's tipi and the larger adult brother
  • anything else I can think of
so do go gently now I am back in the blog world and stop in every now and again - just don't expect a finished tipi yet.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

All you ever wanted to know about tipi poles...

Phone the captain of your local pub quiz team. E-mail Mensa to prepare them. Arrange for Norris McWhirter to visit your house with the Guinness World Records team. Erm...actually, scratch that one as I think Norris might actually be living out his time in the Angel Records department at the moment. Anyway, whatever you ever wanted to know about tipi poles, you can find out here. Boy is that information going to be useful. Well, when I say useful...erm, to me it will be, to you? Quite interesting? Certainly not lethal unless you start caressing a chainsaw and plan a weekend marathon. Moving on.

What we are talking about here are 'loom poles', thanks to my new friend Blue Evening Star. For my first kid's tipi, I reckon I need about 12 feet of poles here and have been a little worried about what wood to use and where to get it from. I wanted to get this right so that when I move to a proper size tipi, I sort of know what I am talking about.

So, what to do, who to ask - well, I decided to go to the experts, people actually making the lovely triangle tents and see what they recommend.

First up, Wolf Glen Tipis. They go for poles that are, "... cut from local sustainably managed plantations, using timbers such as Norway spruce, Sitka spruce and Scots pine when available. The straightest poles are selected, hand stripped and sanded to a silky smooth finish." Sounds good, we're off to a good start here.

Address: Wolf Glen Tipis, Williamhope Cottage, Clovenfords, Galashiels, TD1 3LL,
Tel: 01896-850390

On to Hearthworks. They say, "...Tipi poles are selected from local sustainable pine forests and at present we use mainly Spruce poles. For a Tipi of 18 ft diameter the poles are cut to an average length of 25 feet and can be finished with linseed oil." So, pretty similiar which is always good. Must get me some linseed too. That does sound tasty. Wonder if its lucky ground nut oil? Will my tipi smell like a pizza restaurant?

Address: Hearthworks, 14 Lambrook Street, Glastonbury, BA6 8BX
Tel: 01749 899521

Last of all, its Albion Canvas. They say their poles are, "...locally sourced and sustainably managed Douglas fir which is peeled, sanded and protected with a double coat of linseed oil." Okay, okay, just stop I get the message. So, I need some sort of pine or fir and a ton of linseed oil.

Address: Albion Canvas, Unit 146 Anna Mill Business Park, Wrangaton, Devon. TQ10 9HQ
Tel: 0845 456 9290 (local rate) or 01364 649101

So, now we have a type of wood that the makers use in the UK, where on earth can I get me some? Not really the sort of thing my local DIY superstore is going to stock. Looks like I am not alone in my search too.

"We supply sticks and poles from local woodlands ranging from peas sticks and beanpoles to yurt poles and tipi poles to ships masts and whole trees. These can be prepared or in their natural form." Great, where do I sign?!?  Well, I have e-mailed so hopefully this will bear some fruit but I just have no idea how much this is going to cost me and I would quite like to be able to grab my own from somewhere. Without being arrested or shot for trespassing. Or wood rustling, whatever its called.

Come on ebay, get me a bargain old buddy...

Yikes! Well, I suppose these are hand cut lovely Douglas Fir which does sound nice. I just kind of wanted to go and grab some from a wood somewhere myself. You know, hug a couple of trees first in a forest full of birdsong and fell some beauties. Maybe some of my American cousins have some better ideas...

Or maybe not. I just want to meet Nancy now, today, and pop round for tea under her tipi.

Closer to home, I think this should do the trick. Have sent a few mails off and will await some useful, cheaper and fluffier timber-based replies. Will post some updates here when I hear back. Oh, and will let you know what the taste of linseed oil is like too. Toodlepip for now. Chainsaws set to stun.

p.s. have just found out that London Zoo have their very own tipi up. Well, they did when Google found them the other day. Might pop up and see if I can **borrow** a pole or two without them realising. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Building Tipis and Yurts by Blue Evening Star

One of the great benefits of being laid up with CP is that I have time for some reading I hadn't got around to. First on the list is this book by, well, erm, Blue Evening Star. It certainly makes a change from reading another Andy McNabb so I dived in. Here is what I have learnt:

  • The word tipi means home, from the Lakota language
  • To cure the hide used to make tipis, heavy fires would be burnt in the tipi the the cover turned around to proof the other side
  • Tipi poles, called lodge poles, were either dragged on sleds when a group wanted to move camp or later on lashed to horses
  • I need to find some "bonded, dacron-coated, polyester thread in size 16" to sew my tipi together - god knows if the Pfaff can cope with that stuff!
  • Tipis were rarely smaller than 10 feet or larger than 25 feet.
The main meat of the book was the plan it contained and the sewing instructions which followed. What I have got to work out first of all is what size of tipi I want to make. That last point kind of worried me as I was hoping to make a small child-size one first of all, then make the big kulhana tipi after that. The first one would probably be way before 10 feet, more like 6 feet, so I might have to make up my own pattern. Me. Yes, me. Mr I'm-about-able-to-sew-on-a-button, having to make my own sewing pattern already. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Especially if you stock bonded, dacron-coated, polyester thread in size 16 as I am coming for you now (even with my CP). Time to go back to the pencil and paper I think, wherever that is...

Pfaff 297 to the rescue - fabric sewing test mission update

Crikes, almost killed Blogger there trying to upload this lot of photos...will maybe have to stick to putting them all onto my Flickr or Picasa groups instead (maybe the latter as I think, actually, that's where all these photies end up - will have to check).

Anyhoo, back to the post. I was wondering about which sewing machine to use to get all this huge weight cotton together for my tipi. From some searching around houses, I unearthed a couple of beautiful treddle sewing machines which might have been able to do the job. However, my Mum then offered her electric household machine, the very one that had made all those wonderful Clothkits clothes from the past - how could I refuse! When it emerged gleaming from its beaten old cover, I discovered it was a Pfaff 297. Erm, yep, not a model I particular knew, but if it has survived god knows how many years in her household, it was hoping it was going to be okay for my tipi and that I wouldn't be ruining the family heirloom.

First up was the 9oz fireproof duck cotton inner...yes, not quite your conventional crafting fabric but this is Big Hairy Crafting! Ahem, anyway, I was quite sceptical the machine could take it. According to various books (of which more later), I am either going to have to master a Flat Seam or some sort of French Seam. Whichever I can figure out first, its still four layers of cotton to go through here, in a couple of stages, which is probably not the sort of thing you would do everyday with your machine really. Like I would know. 

As it approached the machine, like the gladiator entering the arena, rather than get crushed under a tiger, the machine just punched straight though it. Machine 1 Cotton 0. On to the 120z.

Now this stuff is h-e-a-v-y. When I tracked some down in my local crafting emporium, itself something out of a Sherlock Holmes book (definitely not the next Guy Ritchie movie - please just stop now Mr R! I know the divorce is coming up soon, but don't murder a classic while you are waiting for that decree nisi to come through), I only bought a metre's worth just to do these experiments on and to get a feel for the fabric. One metre of 12oz and one of 9oz almost killed me on the way home via the Tube. Must find a closer London craft shop to me.

After the 9oz test, I was feeling confident for the 12oz but still a tad worried. I wasn't sure if the smoke I could smell was eminating from my Dad's pipe as he stood feverishly near buy, in case a technical repair was needed, or whether it was leaking out of the Pfaff's motor but we went for it anyway and surprise, surprise all was actually quite well. Here are the results:

The 9oz is the one on top and the 12oz is the one on the bottom. A bit messy but pretty good huh! The Pfaff managed to creep back into its cover and wasn't squealing too much and my Mum seemed pretty pleased too, even if she got a bit carried away with the zig zag seaming on the second example (possibly one too many vitamin tablets there I think). 

Now I have the sewing machine sort of sorted out and the material chosen, I still need to get my wood sorted out to be stripped to dry over the winter and then make the templates from the pattern I have chosen. And fit in Christmas. And hoover. Its going to be a lonnnnnngggggg week.

Oh and yes, for those eagle-eyed among you, that is a copy of The Crafter's Companion in it which has some great ideas in. Once I have Project Tipi out of the way, or if I have time before Xmas, I might be able to use my left overs and sample bits of cotton to fashion something together - watch this space.

P.s. you may also want to update your virus checker as the latest news is that I have chicken pox and have had to lay up my needles for a while. Well, Queen Bee thought I was pretending to have man flu to start of with and is now busily joining my spots up with a pen to make interesting patterns (pictures not available). Anyone with any cures, do let me know.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wood...huh...yeah...what is it good for?

Absolutely everything really, including support my tipi up as it happens. The first version I am trying to get together at the moment will probably be about 6 feet tall...its amazing actually how everything in the world of crafting seems to be in imperial measurements, like going back in time to shopping at Diagone Alley (apologies to HP fans if I have the spelling wrong there). 

The material I am using is 3 yards wide, or 9 feet or 118 inches. Erm, hello? I was born after decimilisation you know...everything should have some tens in it somewhere, I am just sure of it! :-)

Anyway, I need to find some wood soonish so I can strip the bark off and get it out to dry before next summer. With my old coppicing head on, thanks to a lot of hedge laying with the B.T.C.V., I reckon a couple of good Hazel or thorn pleachers should do the trick. What? Never pleached at all before? Okay, check out this video below for more info. I should warn you, it is a bit chainsaw heavy as these guys are contractors - I tend to prefer a handsaw as you have a bit more control and don't go so quickly, hacking things off before you are ready. 

So, all I need to do is go out into the wonderful world below, get my wood goggles on and start looking for things 6 feet tall...or 182cm according to Google if you prefer the modern metric way.