Now's the time to plan for those lazy days of horizontal splendor in the grass. Our hammock-buying tips will get you going (and keep you from tipping over).
- Hammocks come with or without spreader bars. The bars sit at both ends of a hammock and connect the main body, or bed, to the arms -- the string or rope sections you tie to a support. The spreaders are made from hardwood or recycled plastic fibers. Spreaders provide more space to lay on but can be less stable than hammocks without spreaders. A hammock without spreaders can feel cocoonlike as the arms enclose your body.
- A hammock's bed size is its length and width between the spreader bars. An average bed size is about 52 inches long and 80 inches wide.
- The number of strings that come through the spreader bars shows how much rope has been used in a hammock. More lines mean more cotton, a tighter weave, a more supportive bed, and a higher price tag.
- Avoid purchasing a fabric hammock with material wrapped around the spreader bars; this makes the hammock unsteady. The fabric should be knotted to strings that are threaded through the spreaders for a safer swing.
- To hang a hammock, you need at least 10 to 16 feet of space. If you have less than 10 feet, the slope of the hammock will be too steep, making it uncomfortable to use.
- Initially a cotton rope hammock is shorter than its advertised bed size. As you use a hammock, it stretches and molds to your body. "It's like a ritual," says Richard McCain, product manager for Algoma Net. "You have to hang it, get in, stretch, then readjust the hanging height, get in, and stretch it again. You have to sculpt it, so it's your hammock, made for your comfort."
- To clean a fabric hammock, scrub it down with a mild detergent, then rinse it off with a hose.
- To clean a rope hammock, place it in a bathtub filled with water and a small amount of bleach. Let it soak and then rinse it off inside the tub.
- In general, you should keep your hammock out of weather's way no matter what its material. If you live in an area where winter is particularly snowy or wet, bring your hammock inside and store it to extend its life.
Continued on page 2: Yarns of Possibilities