Spirits Intent Yurt Covers

Perfect yurt coverWe have been sewing Yurt Covers in our way for many years and have never really written about how we do it and what makes us special. So here goes…

The main thing that makes us different from other yurt makers is that we usually make our yurt covers without seeing the frame. “So how do we do this”?, you may ask. Well it is a fine art that we have refined and fine tuned over the years, and have now made (literally) hundreds of canvas and felt yurt covers in this way.

Yurt covers

It is an ancient recipe starting with a measurement sheet which we send to be completed by the yurt owner, with lots of clear instructions to ensure the process is idiot-proof (although there have been a few cases…). We then add lots of circle geometry, a bit of algebra, Pythagoras theorem and sometimes some trigonometry, before getting out our amazing Vietnamese scissors to start cutting the canvas, the webbing, the cord and all those little bits and pieces which make our yurt covers so delicious.

Making yurt covers on siteTop quality canvas is an important ingredient in the pot. We usually make our yurt covers from 12oz polycotton canvas which is flame, water and rot-proofed, and have worked with the UK’s canvas proofers to raise the ‘water head’ (level of water proofing).

And we make our yurt linings with a really snuggly wool felt.

We have two trusty sewing machines, both walking foots (feet?) which means that the heavy fabric is always held tight from slipping. One is a Durkopp-Adler, and the other a Seiko. The Durkopp is the Rolls Royce of sewing machines (which means a tiny screw can cost £75), and is fast, good for the long stretches. It can also sew through a surprising number of canvas layers. The Seiko is better for detailed work like windows and it is lighter to move around so is the one that usually goes out on missions.

Yurt cover sewing machine

Sewing yurt covers
Windows are nice in the yurt covers: as our late friend, Bill Coperthwaite used to say ‘there is something indescribable about the view through a round window’ and I would also recommend opening ones, which we used to do only rectangular, until we worked out that a round hole with a rectangular PVC opening bit was much easier and nicer etc

Window in yurt cover

Round yurt window
…and we like doing decorative details..it makes life interesting.

Coloured yurt coversWe decided a few years back that it was time to share our secrets with the world so we wrote ‘The Yurt Cover Sewing Course’ which reveals all tricks of our trade.

It is always a lovely moment when the cover is all packed in the bag, and ready to be picked up by our latest friendly courier. As we make our yurt covers at a distance, we don’t usually get to see them up, so it’s good when customers send us photos and feedback. We will always hear when something is wrong, but not always when things go right. It’s often a case of needing to hold the intent until we get the thumbs up.

Yurt cover bag
Now, once again the wild Easter sewing rush has begun, so we have sharpened the scissors and got our thimbles out to be ready for the storm….

Yurt Cover tools

Ode to the Road

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Life on the road cannot be overrated
Where the scene is ever being updated
One day mountain, next day sea
What a wonderful way to be

Fresh from a world within the grid
It’s all there whatever we did
Amazon, Asda, and of course Ebay Earplugs to trucks just a click away

We need to find the next place to Park
That won’t be so easy after dark
Somewhere quiet would be good
Better if it has water and wood

No more rhymes seem to be coming so I will carry on in prose. It can still be an ‘ode’ can’t it’?
Anyway it is very refreshing to change the whole reality once in a while and adapt to a new way of living. I had forgotten the magic of this way, where everything becomes more precious and one appreciates the little things more.
Somehow living in a house with mod cons, it’s very easy to get lazy and take things for granted, like getting clothes dirty because you can just throw them in the washing machine.

And one needs to be much more conscious of water use, with a limited amount of water on board. You put a bucket of water on the stove to heat up then use it to wash your body, then wash clothes then the truck floor. When it rains we put buckets out to collect rain water dripping from the truck.
God made a song when the world was new. Water’s laughter sings it through. Wizard of changes, teach me the lesson of flowing. “
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Food is more interesting with changing availability and local delicacies. You can’t always get those avocados so it is especially nice when you do and there is ediblr, wild food everywhere, although not so much at this time of year. Making juice is a more involved process as the juicer needs to be got out and packed away, the generator started and stopped and this somehow makes the juice more delicious.
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As you may have read in earlier entries, we continue to run the sewing side of the business when on the road, meaning we have to adapt to the terrain and work with the weather.

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We also have a fully functioning mobile office, thanks to mobile Internet and the Smartphone.

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I do sometimes miss the days before the phones and the Internet when we would hear gossip along the grapevine and receive rare letters at Poste Restante addresses, the news of which would last us for weeks. For meeting up we would have to rely more on the Inner-net and guidance, and if we needed to get a part for the vehicle or directions to somewhere, we would actually have to ask the locals.

We used to rate Park-ups on a sliding scale from one to ten according to facilities. A ‘ten’ would be in a beautiful place miles from nowhere with water, wood and one could stay there as long as you want. We have since discovered the magic of a ‘minus seventeen’ Park-up, which can be something like overnight at a motorway truckers stop or a yard at the edge of an industrial area, and sometimes these sort of spots are the quietest because there is no attention from people and you don’t have to defend anything.

There is a lot of room for personal growth in sharing such a small space with others. One learns tolerance and an awareness of other’s personal space in the constant dance of who is cooking, who’s on the bed, who’s doing yoga on the floor, whose coat is hanging by the door, where you put your shoes when you come in etc etc. And the refreshing feeling of having only a few personal possessions.

All too soon we will land again in the next place for the next adventure, but for now the road is shining us on.

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The junk yard of infinity

It’s been a busy few weeks on the road looking up places in the wilds of Italy, speaking with owners,
And the authorities, looking at excavators for making roads to inaccessible isolated places, to create places that are very isolated.

Sometimes on the road there is a little un expected gem, you turn a corner and viola it’s there, a little spot of magic.
This time we stopped to get something from one of the road side stalls, and because things were a little hectic after town I took one of the girls for a walk, we turned a corner under a bridge and found a little spring.

It had a real nice touch, all decorated from rubbish thrown before, it was a work I art! we found out it was a church initiative, they made nice little art out of all the rubbish that has been thrown.
Although under a busy bridge, it felt so tranquil.
Having worked at the alternative edge of the leisure industry, helping campsites make retreats and sites for people to enjoy being away from it all, I was overwhelmed how simple it has been to create magic here, a place that felt so gentle and magical, with old statues an discarded posters, with little plants and of course the old spring.

How much better it felt to some attempts we have been part of by campsite owners to create the same magical atmosphere.

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There is this tendency when you travel to give good spots names, this one was christened “the junk yard of infinity”.

There is a story about a Mexican shaman who led his group of sorcerers in journeys to other worlds.
But his greatest love was to travel to the outmost corners of infinity, he would go to unvisited corners and would experience wonders.
The story states that not only he seen wonders in his other worldly travels to the junk yards of infinity, he would come back and re-create some of the wonders he saw.

At other times he would wonder into the other attention unseen and would bring the things he viewed there back with him, he had a collection of those “inventions” and this is what this little place reminded us of.

It was a refreshing contrast to speaking with the authorities about campsites, and dealing with buying land and surveyors, reminding me that actually it takes so little to make us “feel that magic”, in fact it’s probably the less there is, the more the magic.

Nomadic 102 – Women empower

We have been cruising through the Apennines for a few weeks now, settling to a rhythm. Travelling in convoy is an art, and so too is learning how long to hold a park up and when to move on.

The Italian landscape is quite helpful, although the lay-bys are smaller, than their French counterparts.
One can be cruising amongst the snow peaks one minute and on the next park up be by the sea, where it is still just about warm enough to jump in.
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The best thing is that we have managed to work some of the winter sewing load into it, so the push to find a place to work is not so strong. That is the advantage of the sunnier climate: we can sew outside in the winter.

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I love Italy. It flows in much more open ways: in the mountains it’s slower and old, by the coast it’s pulsing and constant, and the food is great. We have been getting into making pesto again, the most crucial ingredient-Pecorino is sold direct from the cheese
Makers. Of course it gets even better with locally gathered truffles put into the cheese, but we like to keep our foods simple, making our own pesto for example, although looking at a piece of land for sale next to the “Città del Tartufo” (truffle town) was tempting.

It’s a nice way to get to know an area, to park in it’s various lay-bys and to talk to the locals, interaction by interaction. All too soon one settles down, and we tend to be very private.
So although we love to chat to the munchkins wherever we go, we don’t always get too many opportunities.

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I love cruising the land and feeling it’s power like that, learning the old stories, and creating power ones for ourselves. We do group conscious work on the road, and it feels very right, at times it is explosive and hard to contain, at others it’s sheer elation. my heart goes out to all those that travel in trucks, but more so to the few that travel like that, the few that really integrate, that really feel through it.

It’s hard to explain, but certain spots bring certain truths out in us. it’s a greater challenge to travel with women, because they are so fluid, and they ebb with the energy itself.
I guess my greatest love is for those
Wild women that dare travel the real way, that dare feel and go through it,
Those that rise out of the crowd.

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Europe’s best mountains

I have been travelling for almost 20 years, mostly in Europe, but elsewhere too, I have a love for the mountains because people tend to be more open and hospitable, and much simpler, so I have traveled through quite a few ranges over the years.

Driving through the Apennines was a real voyage of wonder for me, here was a long range of mountains going through my favourite country in Europe and they are….. amazing, and I never new about it, thinking them to be a little range of hills.
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We drove into the mountains just after Assisi, famous for St. Francis,
Instead of going up to chiusi della verna (where he got his stigmata wounds), like we did last time we came here.
We chose to continue down the road a little and enter into the mountain there.

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Reaching the mountain top I was amazed by some of the scenes, like the grand plane (piano grande) in the south of the monte sibilini national park. The scenery looked as if it could be in Mongolia, with horses roaming free and open grassy planes with Shepards walking their flocks, although the distinctive hill top village was looking like something out of the Middle Ages and very European.

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We left Umbria at Forca di presta, another amazing mountain overlooking the hills, covered with hardwoods.

We entered Abruzzo by Lago di campotosto, back in the UK this would be a tourist hot spot, here it is quiet and on it’s own, the snowy cap of the gran Sasso mountains can be seen and one starts to appreciate the diversity of Abruzzo, with it’s high mountains and national parks it is becoming one of my favourites, very slow and very spectacular.

All in all the mountains here are such a wealth, it’s Northern Europe nestled inside the meditarenian, so one can walk through beech forests one minute and be next to cane and fennel the other, from broad oaks to fig trees, it’s got it all, with wild goats, and deer, and even a few bears, and of course plenty of wild boar.

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