Here I am, sitting at the scribbled-on dining room table, sun pouring in through the lounge window, jeans on the radiator in the hall drying out after the tropical storm that drenched them (and me) an hour ago, seagulls laughing at each other through the open front door, neighbour performing some kind of operation on an acoustic guitar that, in a parallel universe, might pass for music, and this is what’s going on behind my back:

Professional Yurt People will recognise it at once. For everyone else, it’s a yurt cover workshop, and one of the reasons I’ve been doing so much parenting.

Now, if you’re planning on making your own yurt cover, which is a Very Good Idea if only because it pretty much halves the cost of a new yurt, you’ll want to know the details. The main ones are:
Juki industrial sewing machine, from ebay, freshly serviced – should last a lifetime
12oz natural cotton canvas, water-, rot- and fire-proofed – should last five to six years
Anti-wick thread, designed to stop water penetrating holes
Needle, size 19 – tried a 21 but it was damaging the canvas

It also helps to have someone who knows how to use the equipment. Clare used to work as a seamstress in a theatre in California, then as a wedding dress maker, and trained on an identical machine. She tells me it’s not a big deal. It’s just like making a skirt.

Only bigger.

And much, much heavier.

If you have a mind to, you can sew your yurt cover by hand. Dan Frank Keuhn mentions doing this in his book MONGOLIAN CLOUD HOUSES: HOW TO MAKE A YURT AND LIVE COMFORTABLY. He just doesn’t say how long it took.