Be Cool and Hammock On!
I hate using pins when sewing. I disdain installing them and then removing them right before the feed dogs pull them under the presser foot. Yes I know they help keep things in place and straight and aligned together… but still.
I hate using them but I could not figure out a way to keep the panel pull patches in place while stitching the panel pulls to the tarp. Man that silnylon is some slippery stuff – especially when it it on piece on top of another.
There was just now way around having to use pins and this made me very until it was mentioned that I could glue the panel pulls in place and then sew them on the next day. WOW!!! Why didn’t I think of that?
I’ve seen some pretty extreme DIY projects out there. I am trying to go deeper into making my own gear. I started out with pretty easy projects like stuff sacks and hammocks. Then I did the natural DIY project progression; I started making my own underquilts, top quilts, and tarps.
While these projects are still very challenging, they just didn’t meet the level of true DIY I was looking for.
Does it sometimes feel like you’ve gone to extremes with your DIY addiction? I know it does with me.
This tarp started out as one sheet of sil-nylon 30 yards long. I folded the fabric in half (matching the long sides) and stitched 15 yards along one side. As it turns out, 15 yards is a lot of material to run through a sewing machine at one time (as you can see in the pictures below).
This tarp is partially based on the designs found at DIY Gear Supply and I used this spreadsheet to calculate the catenary curves. The curve calculator was required due to changes made in the tie-out point locations. The catenary curve is added to the tarp to allow for the tightest pitch possible (some explanation may be found here) and because it looks really cool .
30 yards of seconds* sil-nylon from Noah Lamport. A quick note when ordering from this vendor – all orders are by phone and you need to be sure to ask them to take the fabric off the roll to save you some shipping cost.
The template is made from foam core board from the Dollar Store.
*(no noticeable flaws in this fabric or the coating)
I decided a many months ago that I would make a winter top quilt for hammock camping. I saved and saved and then I contacted Scott over at Backwoods Daydreamer (aka – DIY Gear Supply) and placed an order for 850 Fill Down and rip-stop nylon fabric. Then Fall Semester happened and I was unable to get motivated to do anything other than study and hang out with the family.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago…
The urge to make something starts gnawing at me again so I start researching the designs for a karo step top quilt. I wanted to try this style top quilt because the karo step quilt does not have traditional full length or width baffles. The baffle walls do not run continuously down or across the quilt. This allows for two things
The chambers are 14″ squares with 8″ baffle walls offset by 6″
This appealed to me mainly because I didn’t want to bother with weighing out the bulk down I had ordered. I also liked the idea because I could adjust my wall spacing and distance from the outer edges allowing me to forego sewing the baffle wall height up the outside edges. After much hemming, hawing, determining, and discussion with friends, I came up with this pattern (not pretty I know but hey it works).
The planning phase was really the biggest part of the process — for me. After getting the layout finalized, I got started cutting and sewing, and sewing and cutting.
My process is as follows:
“Where’d you get your pot?” is a common question heard around the camp **inside joke from Goat Island**. I had been looking to ad to my cook kitchen setup ever since I was invited on a backpacking trip on the Chatooga Trail, but being limited on funds I was looking for a real deal. I have been using a cheap stainless steel cup but in the effort to reduce my pack weight (really just b/c I wanted some new gear) I started looking for a better, lighter cook pot/cup.
So after much reviewing and gnashing of teeth, I picked up this 700mL titanium cook pot from Backcountry.com.
I have not really put it to much use other than drinking the random beverage from it, but my initial thoughts on this pot/cup are positive. Even though it is lightweight, it is very sturdy. The handles are stiff and stay put when closed up against the sides of the pot (nice feature). The added spork is a very nice plus considering the price. The only real con I notice about this cook pot is the stuff sack. The stuff sack is thick and heavy but that can be easily remedied with a little DIY knowledge and some rip-stop nylon.
I was kinda worried about whether or not I had made the right decision in spending $50 on a french press that did not get GREAT reviews. For any of you sitting on the fence about this product let me just say, this is a fantastic french press.
The key to making coffee with this press is going slow. All the negative comment about this coffee press talked about how grounds would bypass the plunger and end up in the finished product. I’ve found that as long as you go slow when pressing out the coffee grounds you can use regular, pre-ground coffee.
Dunkin Donuts Original Hazelnut Ground Coffee is the only coffee I’ve run through this french press and I have had fantastic results with every batch.
While on business in Conway, SC, I took an opportunity to stop by the Outlet Mall before heading home. My first visit was to the Columbia Outlet Store where I learned a bit of interesting new. As I was walking through the store I noticed some Mountain Hardware gear on some of the racks. This seemed a little odd so I asked one of the clerks about it. I was then told that Columbia recently purchased Mountain Hardware. So be on the lookout for Mountain Hardware at your local Columbia Outlet Store for a decent discount on some Mountain Hardware apparel.
From there I started out of the parking lot until I saw a sign for an Eddie Bauer Outlet Store. Seeing the sign vaguely reminded me of a thread (this one –> http://www.hammockforums.net/forum/showthread.php?t=45706 ) in which I read about a really, really good deal on a down jacket. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. SO I decided to stop by the store and take a little look. While there were no jackets on the discount racks in my size, I did find a down vest that was just my size.
I really enjoy the being able to make underquilts and other gear; not only for myself but for family, friends and friends of friends who request to have one. This is a hobby for me – not a business – and therefor I am not in competition with any of the cottage guys. I like playing around on the thread injector (sewing machine) to see what I can make. With school and a family, my hobby can be kind of expensive. I would like to make a quality product for a reasonable price in order to help my hobby sustain itself. To get some feedback, I sent two underquilts with a friend on an overnight trip on the Palmetto Trail.
This is the trip report for the gear that went on the Palmetto Trail Trip with muskrat.
A review of the ¾ length UQ made by “ChickenWing”
I have been hammock hanging now since 2007 and by no means do I claim to have a complete understanding to the infinite opportunities hammocking presents to the enjoyment of the outdoors. However, I do know what I like and what works for me. In 2009, my desire to jump into the deepest realms of hammocking began with researching hammocks and tarps and insulation. The information present at the time was very overwhelming but through the knowledge and experiences of other hammockers, I made my choice, bought my gear, and still use them often today. I believe I made sound choices and I have the hammocking community to thank for their honesty and openness to share their opinions and knowledge for others to read.
Currently, I have expanded my gear collection to include Hennessey Expedition hammocks for my wife and 2 daughters. However, their adventures into that outdoors are somewhat limited by what the weather will be. In preparation to have them outfitted for weather just beyond their comfort zone, I have started looking into underquilts (UQs) that will match up with their hammocks. Knowing that they don’t get out as often as I would like them to, cost of the UQs is playing an important factor. They also have expressed very little desire to even be outside for an extended period of time when the weather is below freezing. So, with this information, I began researching synthetic UQs knowing that synthetic insulation has kept me warm in temps well below freezing and will also provide warmth should rain be a factor.
After a few conversations with ChickenWing (reality name “Eric”), he talked me into trying out an UQ he had made for his gathered end hammock. The insulation is synthetic (Climashield, 6 oz, 1”-2” loft), and the outer shell is 1.1 nylon ripstop. This UQ is much like several others in that it has a sewn channel on the outside edge of the UQ in which the shock cord is fed through allowing for easy adjusting while the UQ is in place. The stitching throughout the UQ was fantastic with no loose threads. At each end of the UQ there are adjustments for sealing the UQ to head and foot end of the hammock by simply tightening or loosening the shock cord through the cord locks which can vary with different hammocks.
Using any UQ with a Hennessey Hammock (HH) can be a bit of a challenge if it is a bottom entry hammock, which my three hammocks are. Once inside the hammock, there is very little anyone can do to adjust any UQ without having to get out. After placing this UQ on the HH, I notice that the length was perfect in allowing easy entering and exiting from the hammock. It appeared to snug up nicely on each end to retain the warmth between the person and the UQ. However, I realized it would be nice if there could be a way to affix the UQ to the side pullouts to prevent the UQ from shifting side to side when sleeping. This would have to be designed carefully or provide optional points-of-attachments for different sized people so that the UQ could be in the right location for the user.
With the above comment being noted and discussed with ChickenWing, I decided for myself it was time to run this UQ through my own personal test for warmth and ease of adjustment. I recently got a group of friends together for an overnight hang on the Palmetto Trail. A friend, (Kelly) who is also in the market for an UQ for his Warbonnet Blackbird, decided he would also like to try out this UQ as well. ChickenWing was gracious enough to provide me with a second UQ and we were able to test the UQs on the WBBB and on a Hammock Bliss Double (gathered end hammock, similar to an ENO). With Kelly lying in his hammock we fitted the UQ perfectly and easily to the hammock in about 2 minutes. On the Hammock Bliss, it was even easier since I had access to each side of the UQ while lying in the hammock. No issues at all with the setup. Our projected low for the evening was right at 50*, not as cold as we would have liked yet too cold to sleep without any insulation underneath us. My attire for the evening was mid-weight thermals and Kelly slept in jogging pants and a sweatshirt. Sleep was great that night. Neither of us had to make any adjustments and neither of us had any cold spots at any time throughout the evening. We were both pleased to learn that the temps hit a low of 47* and we both felt that the UQ was more than sufficient. Being a “hot sleeper”, which I found myself venting on occasion that night, I feel comfortable that I could take this UQ down to 32* easily. However, my wife and 2 daughters most likely will not share my opinion and will “pleasantly” ask for more insulation.
Overall, this UQ is exactly what I am looking for to outfit the rest of my family with. It is very well built, can accommodate varying hammocks within minutes, is a fraction of the cost that I have paid for my down UQs, yet provides ample warmth to make it through that chilly night’s sleep. Eric is very open to suggestions when it comes to modifying his UQs and is willing to work with individuals to meet their requests. I will, without hesitation, recommend Eric’s UQs to anyone looking for a reasonably priced yet well built UQ to add to their collection. Kudos to Eric for a fine product!
So, recently a friend of mine came over with a little more than a yard of sil-nylon, several feet of shock cord, some cord locks and a few mitten clips. He told me he wanted me to take this little bit of material and make a pack cover, a gear hammock, a weather protector for his underquilt, and a gear tarp. “Impossible!” I told him, “Did you bring your fabric stretcher?”
He hadn’t brought his fabric stretcher with him but he did bring me a link to Just Jeff’s web page to the woods that described how to make his fantasy piece of gear come to life.
The first step in the process was to humbly remind my friend who does not use a sewing machine that I will not tolerate any “Martha” comments while I am making his gear. After that we took his pack and stuffed it with a sleeping bag to get it close to its packed dimension. Then we placed the material on our work surface and placed the pack on top. Then the material was roughly folded around the pack and marks were made on the sil-nylon to gauge what the approximate final dimensions of the pack cover would be. We then sat back and discussed the merits of making the cover a little bigger versus having it fit snugger to the pack.
After deciding the pack cover need to be more on the baggy side, we made a few marks got out the straight edge and cut the sil-nylon. The next step involved folding the corners and running a short stitch to tack them in place. Next comes the rolled hem along all four sides. The folded corners keeps the rolled hem channels open on the ends. Without the folded corners you would sew across your openings and that would be bad. Near each corner, we opted to put small 1/4″ wide grosgrain loops with mitten clips for hooking to the underquilt suspension. The loops were sewn into the side channels just shy of the corner.
Once the sewing was done the only thing left to do was thread the shock cord through the channels, the mitten clip loops, and the cord locks.
I recently commissioned (okay, begged) a friend to knit some hats for me and the older girls. My request was that the wool hats be warm and comfortable against the skin. She said, “Sure, I can do that” and promptly directed me to a web site so I could select the type and color of wool we wanted (specifically giving me the responsibility of yarn comfort). I did as I was told and went to KnitPicks and picked out my yarn and had it shipped. The only thing I had left to do was wait.
It was definitely worth waiting for a hat that was specially made just for me.
The hats were knit in the round on 16 inch circular needles. They each have a 2-3 inch 2 x 2 ribbed border, except for the one that is made more like the military watch cap and it has a 6 inch 2×2 ribbed border. To make the hat: cast on the number of stitches you’ll need according to the head measurement. Begin the ribbed border on the first round alternating in knit 2 purl 2 for the entire round. Continue in this pattern until you have the length you desire for your ribbed border – usually 2-6 inches. Then, you’ll change to stockinette by knitting each round until your hat measures 7 – 7 1/2 inches. At this point, you’ll begin decreasing stitches to close the hat. With the military watch cap, you’ll knit the ribbed border 4-6 inches and then an additional 4-5 inches in stockinette before you begin to decrease.
As you can see, this hat is very well made and fits perfectly considering the size of my gigantic melon head. I ended up with 2 different styles of hat. One you will see in the pictures below. The other one is very similar except it has a 6 inch band that when folded to fit puts 3 layers of material over my ears. In 30* F temps I am toasty warm. Everyone should be so lucky. I am looking forward to many years of comfort and warmth from my custom made wool hat.
This wool hat was custom made for me by LGR.