Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Ancient Tree Hunt

If, like me, you love trees, then you'll understand the joy of finding an ancient, gnarled old specimen.  Put your palm against the bark and feel the heartbeat, put your ear to it and listen as it tells you stories of the history that it's witnessed.
Trouble is, unlike historic buildings, until recently nobody has been keeping a record of our spectacular ancient trees, so apart from the odd few they had little protection or recognition.
 Now the Woodland Trust is changing things.  A massive project, the Ancient Tree Hunt, has used volunteers and partner organisations such as The National Trust to "register, classify, celebrate and protect" the UKs most special trees, many of which are host to an enormous range of life too.
If you visit you can access maps, satellite imagery and the inventory to find the ancient trees registered so far in your locality, and also details on which ones are accessible to the public, so that you can go and visit some of these mighty veterans.

I've photographed us climbing amongst a couple of ancient oaks at Croft Castle (National Trust near Leominster) - 
What's your favourite ancient tree?  

Monday, 20 April 2015

Monday make - Tepee tutorial

So pleased to have finished this.  I've been wanting to make a tepee or something for the garden for the longest time.  See here for my plans to make our rented garden a more inviting place to play.  I then started looking for tepee ideas on Pinterest, and came up with the plan for this one.  I'll be following up with tutorials for the bunting and the campfire cushion (I'm so in love with this cushion, and will be making and selling more of them) in the next couple of weeks.

So... without further ado... how to make a tepee (teepee):

What you need: 

  • 12 ft by 15 ft painters canvas drop cloth (or two 9 ft by 12 ft cloths, some waxed linen thread and a stout needle).  This is the cloth that painters and decorators use to cover furniture and carpets while they work.
  • 10 x 8ft garden canes or similar (see note later)
  • eyelets and eyelet inserter
  • stout string
  • short length of sturdy cotton or linen tape

I wasn't able to get hold of 12 x 15 foot drop cloth, though you can get it in the USA which is why I've included it here.  If you can't get hold of it, then your first job is to lay out your two 9 x 12 foot cloths with a 6" overlap between two 9 foot edges and join with two rows of running stitch on each side of the overlap.  You'll end up with a 12 by 17 1/2 foot cloth.

Measure 7 1/2 foot along the long side of your cloth and stitch on a loop of cotton or linen tape.  Tie the end of a piece of string to this loop, and then tie a pen 7 1/2 foot along the piece of string.  Get a willing volunteer to hold the loop still, while you pull the string taut and use the pen to draw a semi-circle on the cloth with a 7 1/2 foot radius.  Cut out the semi-circle.

Insert eyelets down the straight edge of the semi-circle on one side of your loop.

Now take your canes.  I used 8 foot long heavy duty garden canes.  Most places only sell them in packs of 50 or 100, but I did find a place that sold a pack of 10.  Actually these weren't as sturdy as I expected or hoped and we're having to take the tepee down overnight and wouldn't leave it up in the wind.  In the future we'd consider replacing them with steel rods, metal piping or 2"x 1" wood to add stability and we'd then tie down a couple of guy ropes which would give us a lot more confidence.  Fasten the canes with string in a variation on the tripod lashing about 6 inches from the end.  

Spread the canes out in a circle approximately 5-6 feet in diameter.  Stand on a step or chair and hook the loop (half way along the straight edge of the semi-circle of canvas) over the top end of one of the canes.  Wrap the canvas around the canes.

Sew the top of the tepee closed using the first few eyelets, and sew loops of string in place on the non-eyelet piece of canvas to open and close the door using the other eyelets.

I hope this is okay.  I'm still quite a tutorial beginner, and now I've found that I didn't take enough photos of each step to make it clearer.  I'm sure I'll improve in the future!