Do it yourself: how to make your own hammockInstructions for making your own hammock for relaxing in the back yard, with only some fabric, rope and a little time.
What's more relaxing that lying around in your backyard in your hammock, napping in the summer breeze? Oh, you don't have a hammock in which to relax? No problem. You can make a hammock very easily out of some fabric and rope. You'll need 3 yards of some type of very durable fabric, at least 36" wide, needle and thread or sewing machine, and 50" of 38" diameter polypropylene rope, scissors and measuring tape. When choosing a fabric, select something that is breathable.
Choose a fabric that when wet, dries quickly, or your hammock could mildew if accidentally left out in the weather. Remember, dark colors attract the heat more, so if you'll be using the hammock mostly in the hot sun, you might want to choose a light color of fabric instead. When possible, select a fabric that is wider than the 36" if there will be couples using the hammock. For the rope, choose a type that specifies "working load" and check the weight warnings. Select a weight that will hold at least the two heaviest people in your home. Since polypropylene rope won't mildew, it is recommended for this project. If you'll be using poles or posts, set them before beginning the hammock. Some people set the posts with eye bolts, but whether you decide on poles or trees, make sure it is sturdy enough to hold the weight of a couple of people. And remember, the further apart your poles, the higher up you'll have to tie the hammock to keep it from dragging the ground when you get in it. To make the hammock, hem the fabric on each end, and the sides, if necessary. Cut the rope in half and thread half through one end hem and half through the other end hem. Use a clothespin to help thread the tope through the hem. Gather the hem on the rope by scrunching it together, then tie a double knot to secure. Repeat for the other end.
Some hammocks are secured to the poles or trees with one rope that is tied around the support with a bowline or several half hitches, but you can also take both rope ends, loop them around the support and tie them to each other. Pull one end of the rope and wrap it twice around the support, then tie one end of the rope to the other using the Josephine knot, also known as the Carrick bend, which is easy to untie when taking down the hammock. To make the Josephine knot, take the two ropes on one end of the hammock, form one into a loop and place the loop on top of the other rope. Now take the end of the second rope and lay it over onto the bottom of one end of the looped rope, slightly below where the loop begins to form. Now take the second rope piece and place it under the other end of the looped piece, just under where the loop begins. Now bring the second rope piece around, over the top of the loop. Continue to move the second rope piece until it is now underneath itself and has formed a loop of its own. Pull both loops tight until they form a knot. This should hold your hammock in place.
You can purchase mosquito netting to put over your hammock, before attaching it to the poles. It can be sewn to three sides of the hammock with a zipper on the fourth side, or it can be sewn to one side, and made to pull up over yourself while you're in the hammock. You can also sew a pocket onto the side of the hammock for placing glasses or a book. This can be made from the hammock fabric or another piece of lightweight fabric. Even an old craft bag makes a great pocket for a hammock, just remove straps and sew onto the side of the hammock. If the pocket swings while you're in the hammock and this bothers you, you can instead make a pocket underneath the hammock for sliding in magazines and such. If you want protection from the sun, you can make a makeshift roof for your hammock by tying a tarp over the top. Another hammock accessory is a rope which you can tie above the hammock and use clothes pins to hang a flashlight or other necessities.
Birdwatching advice: tips on buying the best birding binoculars
A pair of birding binoculars should be tried before purchase. You get what you pay for, so choose a good pair that will last you a lifetime.
Binoculars are very important to anyone who likes to watch birds. Buying binoculars can be very expensive, so you want to purchase the right ones for you. Everyone is different, and with just about anything, you get what you pay for. Don't settle for a cheaply made pair of binoculars. Save up to buy a pair that will last you a lifetime. It will be worth every penny spent. Most binoculars need to take heavy abuse. The best ones will be able to survive any kind of heavy use you can give them. The best binoculars will even withstand immersion in water. They can be dropped from a significant height and not be damaged at all. After being dropped, the best binoculars will most likely still be focused.
A custom fit will make you happiest. Try a pair before you buy them. Ask the dealer if you can take them home, and if you are not happy with them ask if it is possible to return them. If you can do that, then you have a good dealer. Try out a pair to see just how it fits in your hands. See how much power you are comfortable with and try one out in a bird watching environment. Many binoculars are very heavy, so try one that is comfortable for you.
In most binoculars, the on axis resolution or the center of the image, will be the same. But in the more expensive binoculars, the off axis resolution or the resolution at the edge of the image will differ greatly. The off axis resolution is important in any binoculars. A more expensive pair of binoculars will have better brightness, contrast, and color accuracy. Do you wear glasses? If so, you will want a good pair of binoculars that will not affect the image while looking through them with your glasses. The width of the image is important for bird watchers also. Try an inexpensive pair and compare them to a more expensive pair and you will notice the difference right away. The more expensive binoculars will excel in all these areas.
Ask yourself just what you are wanting before buying a pair of binoculars. Do you want to mount them on a tripod? Does they have a good warranty? Is the image large and does it fill your eyes? Are they made from rugged and strong material? Do they have rubber on the outside for added protection? It is a good idea to have well made binoculars that will last a long time.
Remember, when bird watching, you will be carrying the binoculars for a long period of time. Are they too heavy? Is the strap comfortable around your neck? Do they have eyecups and are they attached or removable? The ease of using binoculars is important also. Can they be focused easily and do they stay focused? Be sure there is not too much play in the focus knob, as this will make it hard to keep focused. How close can you focus? Are there any unwanted internal reflections? Is there the bright high contrast you want? Are fine details resolved?
All these questions should be answered before buying a pair of binoculars. If you cannot afford the most expensive pair or you feel like you really don't need to spend that much, then go for a medium priced pair. These will most likely be what you will be happiest with. Remember that your eyes will tell you what will be the best birding binoculars. All brands of binoculars have different styles and only you can choose what is best for you.