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Quilting the House

by Going Slowly


We've arrived at the stitching phase of our building adventure! Like pretty much every other part of this process, I've had a looming fear about it. I was afraid that "quilting" the house—attaching the exterior wire mesh to the interior wire mesh by way of baling twine stitches—would be never-ending and difficult. Happily, my fears were mostly unfounded.

Baling Twine & Baling Needle

This morning, after an hour or so of fumbling around and bickering, we eventually discovered our strengths, played to them, and fell into a pretty efficient groove. The process, while time-consuming, was simple: I'd attach a strand of twine to the notch in a long, steel baling needle and thread it through the wall. As soon as I was finished, Tyler (waiting on the other side of the wall) would take both ends and tie them into a super tight Miller's Knot almost before I could start the next one. Rinse and repeat, forever.

Miller's Knot on Strawbale

It was extremely satisfying to see the wire mesh suck firmly into place against the bales!

Strawbale Stitch in Strawbale Wall


Tara's attention to detail on our house is commendable, but sometimes her need to do everything perfectly makes me feel like we'll never actually finish the thing. I'm usually the one with the obsessive compulsive drive for perfection—it's a very strange sensation to hear myself saying things like, "It's good enough, can we please move on!?"

Today, after spending hours tying knots on a wall that Tara practically refused to stop stitching (Tara's Note: I wasn't being picky—the wall wasn't finished!), I offered an ultimatum in the hopes that it would help us get past this "preparing-to-plaster" treadmill we seem to be stuck on. The plan was simple: we had to finish stitching this weekend. Tara would decide when a wall was done, and then she would spray-paint a smiley face on it. Once the wall had a smile, she wasn't allowed to make me tie any more stitches in it.


The smiles eventually morphed into any face at all, from ghosts to aliens to turnip-shaped heads. Almost every one of them made Tyler crack up laughing, and we joked that this was by far the most fun part of the house-building project. We were able to stitch most of the house in a single fourteen-hour-marathon of a day. Phew!

Tara Painting Face Around Nook in Strawbale Wall
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Hurray! One step closer! What mix of plaster are you going to use?
Posted by maddie on August 31st, 2014 at 4:49 PM
We're using NHL (Natural Hydraulic Lime) for our plaster-- NHL 5 for the scratch coat, NHL 3.5 for the brown coat, and Ecomortar mix for the final coat. :-)
Posted by Tara on September 2nd, 2014 at 11:49 PM
"This morning, after an hour or so of fumbling around and bickering..." just made me laugh. It's good to know my husband and I are not the only pair comprised of one perfectionist and one "git-er-done-er," who both think "my way is the right! way."
Posted by Jennifer on September 3rd, 2014 at 1:23 PM
Your fans are out here waiting for the next installment! We want to know how it's going, what it looks like, the sweat, the tears, the triumphs, etc. NO PRESSURE, mind you.....
Posted by Nancy Kane on September 7th, 2014 at 5:14 PM
For those of us that live vicariously through your adventures, how about one picture of your progress? I am not as patient as I should be, I know.
Posted by FC on September 10th, 2014 at 1:16 PM
Our offer was accepted on the land! We haven't signed the paperwork yet, but we are now VT landowners! (I guess the money hasn't changed yet, but we are nominally VT landowners, at least.)
Posted by Joy on September 12th, 2014 at 5:41 PM
Jennifer - :D

Nancy & FC - Check out our photos page for the most recent scoop:

Joy - That is awesome! Congratulations!
Posted by Tara on September 16th, 2014 at 11:43 AM
Oh Tara--thanks so much for the redirect to the photos! It's a HOUSE!!! And not only that, it is SO CUTE and SO GORGEOUS!!!!! You two must be so proud of yourselves. I especially liked seeing you both having such a good time plastering . I am so impressed! GOOD JOB!!!!!
Posted by Nancy Kane on September 16th, 2014 at 1:06 PM
Yes, thanks for the photo redirect! I have been sitting on my hands trying not to ask about the next installment; surely you are crazy busy finishing up the house and getting ready for winter. Photos will satiate your loyal readers, for now :) The house looks so cozy already!
Posted by Jennifer on September 18th, 2014 at 6:12 PM
It is gorgeous! We're really looking forward to come visit again! :)
Posted by Carl & Anaïs on September 19th, 2014 at 7:42 PM