I would not fit well into a tiny house. For one thing, I own 15 different weaving looms—in all shapes and sizes. Floor looms, upright tapestry looms, table looms, a triangular shawl loom, round looms, Navajo looms…they all serve to create different types of textiles and are part of my growing assembly of looms available for instructing students (once it is safe again to do to).
The looms are admittedly most everywhere on the farm—on the farmhouse porch, sometimes in our living room, in our walk-out basement, in the loft, even a smaller one at Farmstead currently. Having so many looms was the impetus for constructing my studio yurt on our farm in 2007, when my large tapestry loom proved too heavy for house’s loft, causing it to begin sagging! The wooden and metal beast had to go somewhere else, but where?
A heated yurt next to our house became the perfect, creative solution and is one of my absolute favorite places to be on the farm. Strung with fairy lights and filled with looms and yarn, it’s a place I can safely leave projects, and they won’t be disturbed or in anyone’s way. Every artist should have an inspiring space all their own, filled with the materials of their work and inviting to the creative process.
You may, however, remember that the yurt hit a rocky point earlier this year with the attack from the squirrels and mice, which left my yarn stash damaged (some of it decimated) after the tiny beasts chewed their way inside and wreaked havoc. After scrambling to save and clean what could be salvaged, we made our best attempts to remove or relocate as many of the invasive critters as possible and keep any more from re-entering. But the aging sidewalls of the yurt continued to be an easy target for the rodents, and keeping out the mice just was not sustaining. For the time being, much of any creative work in my happy space was curtailed.
Right away, I was on the phone with Pacific Yurts in Oregon, working out a solution and ordering new side walls. I was not the first client to call with squirrel problems, but ironically this was the first year their company had received such calls—it is, after all, still 2020. With an upgrade to the window screens (which is where the rodents were chewing their way in), my order was placed, but it would take at least seven weeks to build and arrive.
I remember looking at the calendar and realizing that seven weeks would be November. November! We could have snow and sleet and wind and horrible weather then—how would those side walls ever be replaced before winter settled in for good? Well, it seems winter made an early visit, then took a reprieve JUST long enough for us to butcher all our Thanksgiving turkeys (six straight days of butchering) AND make the yurt switch-a-roo today before returning to her chilly mood.
Today was the day, as the sun and southern breeze escorted small puff clouds across the sky. Opening up the hearty package from the manufacturer, I poured over the instructions one more time before we embarked on disassembling part of the top cover and removing the old side cover (which, in good farming fashion, we already have a plan to repurpose for a different wind-blocking project where mouse-proof-ness isn’t requisite). This afforded good opportunity to thoroughly clean out hard-to-reach spaces and check for hiding mouse nests one more time before stringing up and fastening the new cover.
Structural aging can happen so slowly that you hardly notice it over time. A fading here, a thinning there. But holding that new side cover next to the old one made the distinction quite apparent—the fresh smell of the treated canvas, the saturation of the color, the grip of the fresh Velcro around the vinyl windows, the company improvements to the window flaps. It was like giving your house a fresh coat of paint and stepping back to realize just how much brighter and happier the place looks.
We were determined to finish the process in one day, not only to beat the oncoming wet weather, but to afford no more opportunities to any more mice as well! When the yurt had originally arrived that summer day in 2007, a crew of five of us assembled the whole thing in one day—but that was a summer day, with remarkably more daylight than early November! And there wasn’t anything to dismantle and clean in the process, so it’s not terribly surprising that the sidewall makeover took most of the day.
But as I was able to stand in my creative space tonight all freshened up, safe, and tidied, the sense of tremendous relief was more than worth all the effort. The yurt was back! And now, as our before-snow-flies list winds down (in part because snow will by flying again and the ground will freeze assuredly soon), I’ll be able to have the time to renew my art practice in my special space.
This week take some time to renew or create your special space, no matter how small. Winter is coming, the pandemic continues to rage catastrophically, and each of us will need a place of peace and renewal to tend to our vital, creative hearts.