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  1. #201
    Senior Member hikelite's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
    Flagstaff, AZ
    DIY 1.1 whipped ends
    DIY 10'x12' Sil
    Whoopie SLS
    Awesome thread!

    @Warm Soda, I appreciate your willingness to share what you learned. While you have more experience than I, I have an idea why you had so much trouble with the material. I noticed that you were harvesting in March. Reading that article on Mother Earth News suggests that the ideal time would be late fall. You posted a picture of what the cat tails looked like where you were gathering them. Again, I haven't harvested any myself yet (why couldn't I have seen this 2 months ago!?!?), but I'm wondering if the specimens you collected were not ideal. I would think the "fluffiest" cat tails would have "popped" in the fall, so any that were still around near Spring would not be ideal. Some of the cat tails in your picture appeared to be shedding some fibers, it seems to me that these are all the ones that couldn't grow the seed tails enough to actually disperse them, no? One of the links posted on this thread showed someone "popping" cat tails in the wild. Did the ones you harvested do that too? I suspect the ideal cat tails will be the ones that are almost ready to pop on their own. This would indicate the seed tails were fully mature and would provide maximum loft.

    Again, this is in no way trying to disparage your effort. Your quilt is awesome! I'm only posting my thoughts in hopes it will help us find a way to use this natural material in a way that would produce a lighter quilt.

    Thanks again to Xexorz and everyone, especially Warm Soda, for collaborating on this research. I thought about going and looking for some cat tails myself, but I'm afraid I might end up in the same situation by not harvesting at the peak time.
    Life is hard? Compared to what?

  2. #202
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    San Joaquin County, California

    Cattail Roots

    The roots when boiled are a bit like steamed cauliflower...

  3. #203
    This is an older post, but thanks to XexorZ. I had heard of this before, but it was years ago... thanks for bringing it to our attention.... now if I could only find a stinking pond... I need cattails..

  4. #204

    Cattail lore

    Quote Originally Posted by WarmSoda View Post
    Okay the quilt is done. I started a new thread to show it off.

    Sorry it has taken me so long, but I was working on taxes/spring cleaning/ etc.

    I got so tired of the way that I was separating the fluffy parts from the clumpy parts and I spent several days trying to perfect a better way of doing it. I built a device out of a long cardboard tube with a vacuum cleaner at one end and tried to capture the fluffy down, similar to cleaning the bottom of a fish tank. It didn't work very well. Either I got no suction, or I sucked up everything. The was no margin for error in the middle that would let me separate the fluff that way. Eventually I ended up modifying a shop vac to help out. I hope someone else will have some better ideas on how to do it better.

    It may not be as light, but it is definitely as fluffy as some of my down sleeping bags. It lofted back up fairly well after being compressed in a stuff sack. I have not had a chance to sleep on it yet, but I will soon and post a trip report here on how it went. I'm ready for the questions, so bring 'em on.
    I have played around a bit with cattail down. You might try boiling it and then drying it in the oven on a low setting. This gets rid of the wariness and gives a finer consistency. It can cause it to leak through looser weaves of material though. I would not recommend the dryer. It fluffs it up so much it poured out the dryer when I opened it and partially clogged the dryer vent.
    The moth larva eat the seeds and don,t seem to be too much of a bother to harvesting the down, at least not here in Indiana.


  5. #205
    Senior Member Monkeyboy42's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Salisbury, md
    Diy gathered end
    DIy silpoly 11x10
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    cinch buckles
    This is an interesting old thread. I hadn't considered the uses for cattails before. My big qualm, and probably why this will remain an emergency choice for me is flamibility. Cattails are highly highly combustible. They actually make great tinder for starting fires.

    The price is right, but flamibility plus bugs puts me into the in case of emergency category.

  6. #206
    mountain_man_mike's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Clovis, CA
    DIY silnylon
    DIY hugs & whoopie
    My first reaction was "A shucks, about 10 years ago I could have donated to the cause." A neighbor's cat has slept in my engine bay to keep warm and before it could exit, I heard a 'clunk' coming from under the hood and noticed a blur of fur sliding towards the garage door. Maybe the cat got a hammock because I don't remember it ever getting into my engine bay again.
    Happy Trails to one and all.
    Enjoy the outdoors wisely and elevate your perspective.

    Modified Penny Wood Stove instructional Video-

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  7. #207
    New Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Meredith, NH/Sherrills Ford, NC
    Hennesey UL Asym
    WB Super Fly
    JRB UQ
    Whoopie Slings
    Fascinating thread, thanks to all contributors.
    Years ago we lived next to a swampy area that had a good crop of cattails. We thought they would make a decorative arrangement in our living room. When the cattails started to open, my wife couldn't understand why she was sneezing and coughing. When we removed the arrangement of cattails, her symptoms quickly went away.

  8. #208
    Member larrybourgeois's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Ottawa, ontario
    tree huggers
    I know this is an old thread but I feel it's a real goody. Thanks Wendigo for aligning with my observations and experience with this Life saving wild and common plant! Peace brother. lb
    LarryBourgeois - Outdoorsy Guy

  9. #209
    Senior Member Dux's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Southeastern Wisconsin
    GT SB-Pro, Infinity, Yukon
    Chinook 12x9'6
    Quote Originally Posted by Wendigo View Post
    ...native americans would use it to start fires with a flint...
    Who here has tried this?
    (insert pithy quote)

  10. #210
    New Member LokoLobo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    St.Cloud, Mn
    DIY Double layer Hammock
    It got my attention

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