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Revisiting the Yurt

Revisiting the Yurt

If you haven’t been a reader here for very long, you might not know that back in 2013, I made a 16 foot diameter yurt (ger) with my husband. I wanted to try “large” felting and decided a yurt would be a good idea. It was a real learning experience and a ton of work but I had a good time and we ended up with a yurt (ger). Click on any of the links in the post to read the original post which goes into the details of how it was made.

The yurt began with buying 200 pounds of wool in March of 2013 and getting it processed. You can read all about it in my post “Wool Gathering”.

Then we moved on to building the frame. “Yurt Beginnings” explains how we handled the lattice walls.

We continued working on the walls with drilling, sanding and figuring out how it all went together in a big lattice puzzle. In my post, “Sanding and Being Confused”, you can read more.  Then another update about the wall is in the post “Wall Success”.

Then in August, I finally started felting. The photo above shows my sample for thickness and shrinkage which you can read about here. 


Next we started working on the roof structure which is called a tono.  We were on 51 days and counting for constructing the yurt.  Somehow, I’m getting tired just rereading these posts.


Finally, we got into the large format felting. We made our first wall panel and with the help of the tractor, we got it felted and fulled. 


Then because it was so much work, I recruited more labor. We had a felting party! And then we had a day of felting in the rain.

Next up was painting the wood structure orange which is a traditional color for Mongolian gers (yurts).

We were feverishly working into October to try and get this enormous task completed. It was getting cold and as you can see, I got a little muddy. But we were getting closer to the end being in sight.

One of my favorite things about building this yurt was the community involvement. I even had a youngster named Kostya who was born in Kazakhstan who came to learn about the process. 

And we did it! Our yurt raising party was held at the end of October and it worked. We had a yurt. It was really satisfying to complete the project and honestly, looking back now, I’m not sure where I got the energy. Of course I was a bit younger then but I guess determination and perseverance can get you anywhere. I hoped you enjoyed the reminiscence with me.

The Finale – Yurt Raising Party

The Finale – Yurt Raising Party

We had our yurt (ger) raising party last Sunday and had about 20 people show up to help us raise the yurt. It took about an hour and a half to raise but I think it will go much quicker the next time we put it up. The plan is to take it down for the winter and then next spring, we’ll buy a canvas cover and keep it up all the time. Before I show you the party, I’d like to explain how we tried to get the last piece of the roof felted completely. Dennis had suggested that we use a plate compactor like a sander to finish felting and to full the last roof piece.

Plate CompactorSo we rented a plate compactor. This piece of equipment is usually used to flatten sand or gravel before you lay a patio. But it’s like a giant sander, so in theory, it should work just like a hand sander on a small piece of felt. The first plate compactor we got was really hard to get started and then it just kept quitting and wouldn’t run correctly. So we had to call in and the rental company brought us another one. You should have seen the delivery man when he saw how we were using it. 🙂

More SandingSo we wet down the roof panel and laid pool cover on top of the felt bubble side down. And off I went with the big sander.

sanding large feltMy sister Margaret helped me by moving the pieces of pool cover so I could move from section to section. The compactor did work fairly well for getting the felt to hold together a bit better. However, it just was not getting hard at all. The temperature outdoors certainly didn’t help as it was about 40 degrees F and we only had the rental for four hours. So I finally just got down on my hands and knees and fulled the piece by hand. If you’ve never tried fulling a piece of felt this big, be prepared for a workout! I have some repair work to do on this piece because it just didn’t felt well. It has thin spots and holes. I’m not certain that this is the same breed of wool that I used for the rest of the walls and I think that might have been part of the issue. But I’ll worry about that next spring. Now on to the raising.

Gathering to Raise the YurtWe had about 20 people come over to help with the raising. We started with the tono on the ladder and then made a circle with 8 roof poles.

yurtraising6This gives a template so that the walls will be in a circle. You are supposed to get it as exact as possible so that the roof poles will fit correctly when you get to that step.

yurtraising7We then put up the four lattice walls (khana) and tied the sections together. The sections overlap and “weave” together. The “weaving” part is a bit tricky to figure out.

yurtraising8I’m on the opposite side on this photo tying the two adjacent walls together. We then ran a steel cable around the wall attaching it to each side of the door frame.

yurtraising9Once the walls were up, we started on the roof poles (uni). We started with four at right angles and then filled in from there. You attach the roof poles at the bottom with a cord wrapped around the top of one of the wall rods. There was much skepticism that this would work on the part of our guests.

yurtraising10But we persevered and tied them all down. You can see the cable just below my hands in this photo.

yurtraising11Once the roof poles were all attached to the walls and stuck into the tono holes, we lowered the ladder. And it worked! It all stayed together – our guests were betting on whether or not it would all fall on our heads.

yurtraising12The next step is to “seat” the tono. That means you are supposed to hang on it to pull it down on to the roof poles securely. We started with Kostya since he was the lightest. He could hang off it with no problem.

yurtraising13So then I tried it but I just pulled down, I never really hung off of it.

yurtraising4The next step was to wrap the frame with felt. Here’s the felt pieces ready to be attached.

yurtraising14We used several pieces of rope to tie the wall panels in place. We only used two this time but normally, three would be used. But the wall felt is still in place as I write this after four days.

yurtraising15The next step was to add the roof panels. Kostya is helping to pull the felt up over the roof with a rope tied to the top edge.

yurtraising16Barb used a stick to help adjust the roof pieces once they were up on the rafters.

yurtraising2And then we had a yurt! There are still some adjustments to make because of the door. Yurt doors are not usually standard height so our door is taller than it should be. The roof panels were big enough to cover the yurt if the door wasn’t so high. But because of that extra height, I will be making another rectangular panel to cover the area of the roof behind the door. Kostya thought it was great fun to stand on the ladder and stick his head out of the top of the tono.



All the party goers thought it would be a good idea if Dennis carried me over the threshold. I didn’t think it was such a wonderful idea but Dennis was game.

yurtraising18And then they wanted photos with me sticking my head out of the top.

InsideHere’s an inside view. I really love how the orange looks against the wool.

The Tono from InsideIt’s fairly dark inside but the tono gives a lot of light. Our plan is to cover this with plastic or plexiglass. One section will have the stove-pipe going through. We already have a small wood burning stove. That section of the tono will be covered with metal that will have a hole for the stove-pipe. As you can see, the roof panels are not quite big enough but with the extra panel, it will have plenty of overlap.

Inside Roof Rafters


Here’s a view of the roof. Surprisingly, you can walk fairly close to the edge of the yurt since the angle is fairly steep. Traditionally, the furniture would be against the walls anyways, so there is plenty of head room.

Is It a Mushroom?And here’s a photo from the back. We did later tie down the roof panels. You can see the scale as the building to the right is our garage with the house behind it. We did take some videos but somehow I can’t seem to get the video off the camera and downloaded on to the computer. Plus it will need a lot of editing because it is really long and boring right now. So I’ll have to post the video another day. Thanks to everyone who came to the yurt raising and helped us out. It was great fun and it was so rewarding to see it all together after such hard work over the summer. I hope you all have enjoyed the yurt saga. It was a great experience and I have learned so much about making large felt.






















Yurt Making with Kostya

Yurt Making with Kostya

My friend Paula and I were fulling the third piece of the roof felt down at Camas Creek Yarn store on Friday, when two women came down to see what we were doing. It was a mother and daughter. Tris, the daughter, explained that she had adopted a baby boy from Kazakhstan and that he was now 10 years old. She was very interested in the yurt building process so I invited Tris and her son Kostya to join us in felting the last piece of the roof on Sunday.



My sister Margaret was also visiting. So just as we started laying out the wool, Tris and Kostya came to help.

kostya11I showed Kostya how to wet down the wool.

kostya12And he was off and spraying.

kostya13Then we covered it up and did a little felt walking to get the air out.

kostya3We folded it since it’s so big and then we rolled it up. We’re all working at getting the ties tightened down.

kostyaHere I am tightening it down.

kostya5And then off it went on the tractor. Kostya was a big help and it was hard to tell who got dirtier knees, me or Kostya.

kostya9I also showed Tris and Kostya the yurt frame and how it would go together.

kostya7And here he is with the felt that was drying from Friday’s fulling operation. Isn’t he great! I had a great time explaining the yurt and felting process and really appreciated the help – Thanks Kostya and Tris. Hopefully, they will be able to make it to the yurt raising next week.

Yurt RaisingAnd speaking of yurt raising, we did a sneak peek Monday to make sure we knew how it will all work and to see what else we need to do.

yurt raisingWe had to figure out what height the tono needs to be to achieve the correct angle for the roof poles. It was a bit tricky getting the separate lattice sections overlapped properly but we got that done.

Yurt Raising


So we kept putting it up higher and higher. The poles on the ground are to get the circle the correct size. It doesn’t work well if your circle is off to start.

Yurt RaisingWe eventually got it fairly well figured out. Now we have to tie more cord to attach the roof poles to the walls. But it’s coming together. The party invitations have gone out and the yurt raising is happening next weekend. So exciting!!












Yurt Update – The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Yurt Update – The Light at the End of the Tunnel

We are still working feverishly to get the yurt finished before winter sets in. Luckily, we had a nice weekend and we were able to felt the third roof piece this past weekend. The weekend before was cold and rainy but we did get started on putting the walls together.

Wall Laid Out We laid out all the pieces and lined them up.

Stringing the WallThen we started threading cord through each hole.

Before TyingHere you can see them threaded. The two on the right are tied. This is one of the walls that will be next to the door. You can tell that because of the 45 degree angle cut on the ends that will be up against the door.

Placing A RodIt took a bit to figure out the best way to get everything lined up and thread the holes. It worked best to have the single bottom layer of rods, put all the threads through and then add the top rods one at a time threading as you go. Then we tied all the knots once all the cords were threaded through.

Knots TiedHere’s one all tied up.

Standing WallAnd miraculously, it is standing all by itself!

Wall ClosedYou can fold it right up for moving/storage.

Wall Open - Middle Section


Here’s the second one we did. It is a middle panel. We ended up finishing three wall panels. We’ve got one more to put together.

Muddy FelterSo don’t let anyone tell you that felting is a clean activity. This is what I looked like after we felted on Sunday. That’s the third ceiling panel rolled up on the PVC pipe. I am happy that we are getting close to finished. I hope that we’ll have our “yurt raising” party in two weeks as long as the weather holds. Keep your fingers crossed!









Yurt Update – Painting Begins

Yurt Update – Painting Begins

The yurt making is progressing, although not as quickly as I’d like. We continue to work on felting the cover nearly every Sunday, the sanding is completed, the painting has begun and we bought a door for the yurt. After our weekend of felting in the rain, it took a while for the felt to dry out.

Drying FeltHere are three pieces of felt drying in the sun. The two long ones are wall panels and the one on top is a roof panel. The felt is hanging on our front porch railing so you can see the scale and how big the pieces are. Unfortunately, I figured out that I had made the roof panel the wrong size. I thought, “16′ diameter, that’s the size I need”. But I forgot about the 33″ of the tono and the amount that the roof poles rise. So the first roof piece was too small. Luckily, it didn’t get felted all the way because of the rain (silver linings and all that).

Pre Felt Roof - Too SmallSo I laid it out again and re-did my measurements. It needed another 1 1/2′ – 2′ of wool added around the bottom edge. I had planned on using three batts of wool for each roof panel but now I realized that wasn’t enough, I needed four per panel. So four bags short. But Ed and Sue from Sugar Loaf Wool Mill are coming to the rescue and making up four more batts for us.

Add a Bit MoreCan you see the line marked line on the right side of the tarp? That’s how much more wool was needed. I added that on and put wool on either side of the already partially felted piece. I was a bit worried about it all holding together but it felted right in.

Sanded and Drilled Roof PolesI finally finished sanding the roof poles. Dennis drilled two holes in the bottom of each one. That is where they will connect to the wall.

Holes Drilled to Attach to WallI reamed out the holes with my little rotary tool and sanded the ends again. Now they are ready for painting. System for Hanging Rods to Paint

This is s a photo of the garage ceiling (see the light fixture to the left?) where Dennis rigged up a holding system to paint all those boards. He used plumbing supplies and attached a cable.

Wall Rods Ready to PaintSo we just slide the boards on to the cable through the top hole. (Ignore the skis in the background.)

Hanging SystemAll together, the cable will hold about 15 boards. We decided we needed two cables so we could paint more boards at a time.

Painting BeginsDennis started on the painting process. Our original plan was to use the paint sprayer but Dennis thought it would be too messy. So he is painting them with a brush. I think I would have voted for speed and a mess but…

A Few Wall Rods CompletedHere you can see the boards drying (exciting watch paint dry, huh?). If you’re wondering about the orange, it is a traditional color for painting yurt frames. Either that or red. I decided the orange would go well with the brown wool.

Painting TonoDennis also started painting the tono. I am planning on decorating the tono with more intricate designs, but that may have to wait until we’ve gotten the rest of the yurt finished. You can see some traditional yurt tonos here.

Second Coat on the TonoThe nice thing about the paint is it covers up some of the less than beautiful joints.

Connecting RopesDuring the evenings while we’re watching TV, Dennis and I have been getting the cords ready for connecting the wall poles together. Each piece of cord is 6″ long, burned at each end to keep it from fraying and one knot is tied.

Only 350 More To GoWe only have 350 more to go.

Tied TogetherThis is sample boards connected together with the cord. To make the lattice hold together, the wall boards will be connected with these cords. Anyone up for a lattice connecting party? I thought I had taken a photo of the door we bought but couldn’t find it. We originally checked at our local home stores but a door was going to be $180-$200. That seemed a bit high. So we went to a ‘Restore – Habitat for Humanity’. They have used building supplies. We found a framed, already hung door for $40. Of course it isn’t bright orange, so I’ll need to sand it down and paint it orange. So I guess I lied about the sanding being completed 🙂














Felting in the Rain

Felting in the Rain

The yurt plan for this weekend was to full a couple of the wall panels and make one roof panel. Two of the wall panels are very well felted and the other two were still a little bit soft. So they needed a bit more work behind the tractor. Mother Nature had something else to say though.

Starting to RainWhen Dennis and I first got outside the sun was shining and we wet down the two wall panels and rolled them both up to full more. Dennis pulled them around several times on the tractor and it started raining. You can’t really tell in this photo but it was starting to hail. So we left the felt in the field and dashed back to the house. Two of my recruits (more crazy than the rest) showed up even though it was pouring rain. So we waited a bit and the rain stopped and the skies cleared up.

Spraying Down Roof PanelSo we laid out the first roof panel and wet it down.

Paula Hosing Down the Roof PanelHere’s Paula spraying it down. We rolled it up and tried to pull it behind the tractor but it was wider than the last roll. Things kept getting off track and the roll was moving to one side. So we had to keep stopping and re-rolling.

Clean Hands?

This is what our hands looked like after rolling. Just a bit messy. The skies started getting dark again so we decided to quit. In the midst of putting everything away and bringing the felt and supplies back to the house, it started pouring. We got completely soaked through to the skin. And the roof panel is not felted, it is pre-felt. Dennis said “Next time, we are going to listen to the weather man!” Somehow felting in the rain was not as romantic as singing in the rain.

Busy Week

Busy Week

It seems that everyone is busy this time of year. Football season has started here and we went down to a football game over the weekend. It was a late game and since we have to drive 2 1/2 hours to get there, we didn’t get home until 1:30 am. Yawn. Then the next day, we felted another wall panel for the yurt. Then coming up this week is my exhibition with my class mates from my Level 2 Hand and Machine Stitch class with Gail Harker. So I’ve been busy getting pieces ready for the exhibition and cleaning up the studio. I have also still been sanding on the yurt parts.

Tono with Roof Poles

I only have 12 roof poles left to sand. Dennis put a few into the tono to see how they fit. It’s amazing to see what the roof will look like. Wow, 16 feet is bigger than I imagined. 🙂

Messy StudioThis is my studio about half way through the cleaning process. I forgot to take the photo before I cleared most of the stuff off the table.

Cleanish StudioSo now it is a bit cleaner. The box on the table is the stuff that will go in the exhibition.

Kantha TractorI did finish the Kantha tractor and got it framed. It will be in the exhibition as well.

Kantha RevolutionAnd I got these three Kantha pieces matted and ready to donate. So what have you been doing? We’d love to see what you’ve been working on, so please post on the forum when you get a spare minute.

Yurt Tono and a Felting Party

Yurt Tono and a Felting Party

Dennis and I are still plugging away at the carpentry work on the yurt. This past weekend, we drilled the holes in the tono. The tono is the circle at the top of the yurt that the roof poles fit into. Dennis bought a special drill guide so that we could drill the holes at a 30 degree angle. I can’t imagine how we would have drilled at the proper angle without this guide.

Drill GuideIt works really slick. Dennis had measured and marked where all 52 holes needed to be around the outside of the circle.

Holes in TonoSo now we just need to sand the tono a bit more and it will be ready to paint. You can see that one of the holes is a little bit off. We’re not sure how that happened but it will just have to do.

Pole StopWe also felted two more wall panels on Sunday. Luckily, I got recruitment labor. 🙂  To prevent the felt from sliding around on the PVC pipe, we added a couple of additions. It’s pipe insulation covered with duct tape.

PVC Pipe ChangesWe also had to replace the small inner PVC pipe with a galvanized steel pipe. The plastic PVC was getting eaten by the chain inside.

Felt WalkersAfter the water was applied, all our felting party guests walked on it. Here’s a little video I took:

Two Walls Laid OutBecause I had helpers, we were able to lay out two walls and get them felted in a day.

RollersHere we are on the first roll of the day.

Getting the Air OutThat’s Paula trying to get rid of some of the air under the plastic.

Getting It TightIs it tight enough?

Tying the RollNow to get the ropes in place to tie the roll.

Square KnotsAnd tying it up with square knots. If you don’t get it tight enough, it really slides around a lot.

Getting Ready to RollThen the roll is attached to the tractor.

AttachedStart off slowly to make sure everything is going to roll properly.

Tractor FeltingAnd off it goes. The recipe is 5 times around the field, roll from the other end, another 5 times around, flip the felt over, 5 times around and roll from the other end with a final 5 times around. And it’s felt!! I didn’t get any photos of the finished felt but I will show you all the walls when they are completed. So one more wall panel and then we’ll start on the roof. Progress is being made and I’m shooting for completion by mid October.

Yurt Update – Felting a Wall Panel

Yurt Update – Felting a Wall Panel

Dennis and I started felting a wall panel this past weekend. It was a ton of work but now that we have the process down, I think it will go faster (keep your fingers crossed!). This post has a ton of photos so I hope you make it to the end.

Respite StationI set up this tent and my massage table with a water thermos for breaks. I am having a few neck and back issues so I need to take frequent breaks.

Ready to StartI started with a 12 foot by 16 foot tarp and 4 batts of wool.

Field DraggerThis is the field dragger that goes behind the tractor. We will attach the felt roll to the back of this to roll it around the field.

Size MarkedFirst I measured and taped off what size I needed the wool to be before shrinkage. I was working on the idea that the felt would shrink 6-10%. The sample felted down by 6%.

Corners Marked

I just marked the edges and corners with blue tape.

6" ShortI was really disappointed that one batt didn’t cover the entire width. It was short about 6 inches.

Batt in ThirdsThe batts come folded up in thirds and then rolled. So I spread out the batt.

Need 6" MoreAnd then I had to take a portion of another batt and cover the extra 6″.

Cutting the BattSo I cut the batt and lined up the pieces along the edge.

First Layer Laid OutI did overlap slightly and spread the batt a little thinly at the edges so it wouldn’t be a big lump where the two batts attached during felting.

Watering Can with SoapI filled this 5 gallon watering can with cold water from the hose and soap.

Still Adding WaterAnd sprinkled about 5-6 cans on.

Removing AirCovered it with plastic and tried to get some air out. That didn’t work too well.

Hosing It DownSo I took off the plastic and sprayed it with the hose.

As Wet as It GetsHere’s the first layer after being wet down. You can see that it wasn’t all completely wet.

Second Layer at Right AngleNext I add a second layer of batt in the opposite direction.

Finishing Off the Second LayerThat had to be pieced and cut as well.

Second Layer Complete

So here’s both layers and I added more water with the hose after this photo.

Stompin' On ItThen we walked on it.

Straightening the EdgesNext I made sure the edges were relatively straight.

Adding More WaterWhere the edges weren’t completely wet, I sprayed them into submission.

Covered and Ready to RollCovered it with thin plastic,

Folding in the Tarp

folded the tarp in on both sides,

PVC Pipe in PlaceAnd then we’re ready to roll around the PVC pipe.

RollingHere I am starting to roll. I told Dennis at this point that it looks like I am all by myself and working really hard. But he helped, I promise. Just no photos as he had the camera most of the time.

RolledWe got it all rolled up,

Cable through PVC Pipe to TowYou can see the cable that will attach the roll to the tractor,

Outer Tarp for Protectionand then we decided we should put another tarp on the outside to keep the dirt away from the felt.

Tying It UpThen I tied it with rope.

Tractor ReadyThis was the way we tied it the first time and it didn’t hold well. After that, I cut the rope into equal pieces and just tied each one instead of wrapping longer pieces of rope.

Attaching to the TractorThen Dennis attached a chain to the end of the field dragger,

Hooking Up the Cablehooked the cable to the chain and,

It didn’t work, sigh…

Sawing Off the End of the PVC Pipe

So after a trip to the ranch supply store, we cut off the end of the bigger PVC pipe,

Making Another Cabletook an old cable we had and made loops on each end,

Putting Cable Through Smaller PVC Pipegot a skinnier PVC pipe and put the cable through it,

Ready to Try Rolling Again

and put the smaller PVC pipe into the larger one. And drum roll please –

It worked!!

After First Roll

As you can see in the video, the roll of felt moved on the PVC pipe. So we unrolled to check on the felt and it had started to felt.

Not Felted Yet

But it certainly didn’t pass the pinch test!

Adding Yet More WaterI added more water and we pulled it behind the tractor 5-6 more times around the field. I opened it and it was still not completely fulled. We quit for the day and just left the felt covered down in the field overnight. On Sunday, we started again, redid how we attached it to the tractor and found that the reason the roll was shifting was because the cable attachment kept moving. So we just attached it with chains which didn’t move and it worked great.

The Finished Felt Wall PanelHere’s the finished piece. It shrunk about a foot in each direction which was what I wanted. Yippee! It worked.

Bringing the Roll HomeAnd here’s Dennis triumphantly bringing the rolled felt up to the house. It took two days to dry. I have 3 more wall panels and 4 roof panels to finish. I decided I need reinforcements. The next felting session is planned for August 25th. Do you want to come help?? Please??

How to Build a Yurt in 51 Days and Counting

How to Build a Yurt in 51 Days and Counting

I thought it would be a catchy title if I could say “How to Build a Yurt in 30 Days” but once I started counting how long we’ve been working that somehow didn’t work out. There is even a YouTube video on how to build a yurt in three days. Obviously, they had a few more people working on the project and didn’t have all those things like working full-time, running a gallery, doing paint class homework, company visiting etc. to get in the way. Any who, we’ve been progressing along. Dennis is still working on the tono which is the central ring in the roof that the roof poles fit into.


This is the top layer of the three rings that will be glued together. Dennis made 4 grooves with the router for the crown portions. He made cuts in both of the crown pieces so they would fit together.


Then he glued and screwed the crown portions in. Then he worked on drilling holes to put the dowels in the various layers so that the entire tono will be solid.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s the bottom tono layer with the holes drilled.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAAnd the middle tono layer with the dowel bits in place.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAA side view of the middle layer so you can see how the dowels will go into the top and bottom layers. Now he just has to put it all together and drill the 52 holes evenly around the edge at exactly a 33.3 degree angle. That should be easy 🙂

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERADennis has also been working on the roof poles. They need to fit into the holes in the tono.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERASo we got this neat little multi-purpose tool to do that.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s about half of them completed. So you must be wondering by now what I have been doing. I have still been sanding wall rods. Remember all those holes in the wall rods? Well, they ended up having bits of wood still in the hole from the drilling process.



So I have been using this little tool to get the wood out of the holes in the wall rods.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThat’s only 990 holes that need to be reamed out on both sides. And then I had to sand them lightly again. So I have been sanding, sanding, sanding… And the roof poles still haven’t been sanded. This weekend though I am starting the felting process for the walls. I hope to take some videos to show you next week.





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