If you are traveling to Belfast from Augusta you may notice a sign for Fernwood Nursery. It is a 1/4 of a mile down a dirt road in Montville off Route 3. This nursery specializes in woodland, native, and shade plants. But what the sign doesn't say, is that there is a wonderful fiber studio at Fernwood Nursery that opened last summer.
The fiber studio is the creation of Denise Miner Sawyer. Someone would think Denise has the perfect life because she rarely needs to leave her property to earn a living. In the spring through the fall she works side by side with her husband creating beautiful gardens and sharing knowledge of the plants they grow and sell with their customers. The uniqueness of this nursery is unquestionable. In the winter, Denise gets to retreat inside to her newly finished stand-alone studio, nestled among the trees, to create with fiber. It is a wonderful life, BUT, there are always physically demanding animal chores to do every day - at least twice a day - even in subzero, stormy days.
Denise has a flock of BlueFaced Leicester sheep. She has been raising sheep for over twenty years and has never wavered from her love of this breed. Her sheep are friendly, and the fiber staple is long and soft. It is lustrous, yet durable. Her flock is all white at the moment (which is the typical color for Bluefaced Leicesters), although she has had some colored ewes in the past. She also enjoys dyeing the fiber, which isn't always the case with shepherds. She has up to 30-35 sheep in her flock. Every four years, Denise reduces her flock to the best 15-20 ewes before adding a new ram.
Denise's studio is filled with treasures, from raw fleece to finished works of art. Whimsical creations like felted animals, and functional art like wearable slippers,
can be found all around the studio. It is also likely that any tool you would need to try any fiber craft can be found in this cozy, warm space. There is ample room to host any type of a workshop and/or retreat here and one can only imagine the possibilities!
What Is not shown in this short blog are photos of the town of Liberty which is just a couple of miles away from Fernwood. Besides being home to a beautiful spring-fed lake and state park called Lake St. George, Liberty has a little town center filled with interesting little shops such as the renowned Liberty Tool Company, restaurants, homemade ice cream and even a brewing company. We would recommend a summer visit to Fernwood because of the lake and because if you happen to have a traveling partner who finds fiber boring (how is that possible?), there are many places to "deposit" him or her for hours that would keep them happy while you fondle fiber - and plants.
If you are looking for a destination with a fiber loving friend sooner than later, please call ahead to Fernwood Nursery to make arrangements with Denise. We also recommend you doing this in the spring, summer and fall when the nursery is open to be sure Denise will the have time to be away from the nursery to spend with you in the fiber studio. Denise loves her animals and her crafts, and enjoys sharing them with you; it can be felt every minute you are there. If you can't travel, you can visit Fernwood through their blog.
Luckily Fiber of Maine subscribers will be able to experience a little piece of Fernwood Fiber Studio next month!