Large, soft, gentle strands of freshly dyed Bulky yarns are drying on the deck. The winter sun is a peaking through a cold cloud cover, teasing me with its short appearencences during the first few months of the new year. I spend most of my June – November immediately dyeing every skein that comes back the spinnery knowing fully well of the three-month challenge that winter brings. You see it isn’t the warm temperatures or the gentle breezes of summer that dry my yarn the quickest, though they are quite helpful. In fact the humid temps of August can be a challenge as well. It’s the sun’s drying power that speeds up my process, and a productive day is planned around the peak hours when my front deck becomes the “drying room” for the day, creating a maze of colorful racks and railings full of beautifully dyed yarns, batts and rovings.
With the introduction of the new Needle Felting Kits to my business, I am dyeing more roving than I used to. Yesterday I looked a few greenhouse designs that might help get me through the long winter months. A few years back a greenhouse served as a sheep barn, growing space, and a drying house. It was a wonderful place for lambing and for babies to sun themselves in the cold spring. But after many
years of sheep rubbing on the frame, and countless patches and “fixins”, it gave way to a heavy winter’s snow. Fortunately the sheep were in the new barn by then, which we had angled to capture the sun from 11 a.m till it went down in the early winter afternoon hours. I miss that greenhouse though as it held many fond memories of life and color.
Currently my large front garden is inhabited by a creature that most farmers would “take up their shotguns” and run out-of-town. A giant, long-eared, wiggling-nosed bunny, lopes around the raised beds and watches for us each morning to bring him apples and pear
cores and other tasty treats. He too is a fan of the warm rays of sunshine. His “winter” house is tightly packed with hay and was “upgraded” with a plexiglass window to let in winter warmth.
Winter may seem long here in Maine. It’s challenges make us strong and industrious. Yesterday we had gained a few minutes on the day before the sun gave way to darkness. My mind is on the gardening season ahead, the sweet smells of lambs and the renewal of life.