Hang time: Striped cotton hammock handwoven in Nicaragua, $115, at Ten Thousand Villages
A: Given what we use hammocks for, comfort is likely to be your first consideration (or second, after nostalgia). Most hammocks are made out of rope or fabric, cotton or synthetic. Rope conforms to the body—a sensation you may or may not enjoy—more than fabric. Cotton rope is softer than synthetic. “It’s a matter of personal preference,” says Cristl Huhnke, the garden department manager at Pasquesi Home and Garden (975 North Shore Dr., Lake Bluff, 847-615-2700; 990 W. Northwest Hwy., Barrington, 847-381-5511; pasquesi.com). Some fabric hammocks are available with quilted batting to add a little padding.
Maintenance is another issue. Cotton, though washable, is not quite as easy to get clean as synthetic fiber is. Synthetics hold up better to weather and are more durable and colorfast than cotton, though all hammocks will last longer if you take them inside when you’re not using them.
Cotton rope hammock with steel frame, $120, at Target
As for aesthetics, to some people it’s not really a hammock if it’s not white cotton rope. To others, a handsome awning-striped polyester hammock that matches the rest of the patio furniture is thrilling.
Now let’s go shopping. For the classic woven rope number and all the others we just described, you can head to Pasquesi. The Barrington store carries Hatteras Hammocks (hatterashammocks.com); prices range from about $150 for a basic polyester rope hammock to $189 for a fabric model. Hardware and instructions are included. Pasquesi also carries hammock stands if you don’t have trees or porch posts in the right place.
For a more handmade look, check out the merchandise at Ten Thousand Villages (719 Main St., Evanston, 847-733-8258; 121 N. Marion St., Oak Park, 708-848-4572; tenthousandvillages.com), a fair-trade retailer that markets goods made by artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. You’ll find lovely striped hammocks in heavy cotton fabric, handwoven in Guatemala, and cotton rope styles made in Nicaragua. The hammocks run from $120 to $135, and don’t include hooks to screw into the tree or post.
For a fabric hammock of a different order, visit Uncle Dan’s (see udans.com for locations). Here you’ll find cheery Eagles Nest Outfitters hammocks (eaglesnestoutfittersinc.com) made of parachute nylon, a semi-porous, breathable microfiber that won’t hold water when it rains and dries quickly. They come in vibrant color combinations such as turquoise and purple, pink and blue, black and red, and many more. Made for camping, they would look festive festooned around the yard, like so many flags. If you want, you can attach them to trees or posts with an ingenious system of straps ($20)—no hole-drilling necessary. A single will run you $50, a double, $60.
And finally, for a good selection online, Target (target.com) has a wide selection of rope and fabric hammocks, and hammock stands, too.
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