Paula Kucera’s White Barn Sheep and Wool on Albany Post Road in Gardiner looks like a functional edifice that would comfortably house cows and chickens. Instead, it is the realm of sheep. In short, it is a whirl of wool. Paula, a dead ringer for British actress Helen Mirren, is instantly engaging and her energy is infectious. Paula sells fiber—lots of it—but what she provides goes beyond peddling wool. The White Barn offers bushel barrels filled with exquisite skeins of local wool, sweaters, hats, knitting journals and books, rugs, scarves, needles, fabric combs, tape measures and tea cozies with miniature sheep sitting on a glen. A point of fact: not all yarn is wool. It can consist of acrylic, silk, bamboo, cotton and wool blends and the White Barn has all of them.
Paula Kucera and her husband, David, moved from Williamsburg in Brooklyn to Gardiner 15 years ago. They didn’t want to raise their children in the city. Paula grew up in Red Hook and she likes to get her hands dirty, so when her husband became enamored with the Ridge she was happy to move back to the area. David set up shop on Steve’s Lane where he produces ornamental cast concrete for building restoration. At first, Paula spent much of her time raising her two children, Cameron and Lia, and she dabbled in handwork with fibers. Her children’s education at The Waldorf School in New Paltz rekindled her childhood interest in working with fiber. When she wasn’t tending to her children she was traveling the world painting murals for wealthy clients. Ten years ago she and David bought the farm that included the White Barn. Around this time Paula was experiencing “mounting discomfort” with her career and an increasing interest in perma culture. Perma culture is a philosophy of sustainability that incorporates food, renewable energy, and natural building that meets the demands of a community and preserves the health of the land. Paula was becoming more interested in developing a community where artists could share their ideas and techniques. Out of these beliefs the White Barn was born.
Paula uses the space for teaching various fiber arts: crocheting, knitting, felting and spinning. She sells fiber made by local artists such as Laura Watson’s (Full Moon Farm) wool and hats, Heidi Lawrence’s (Yogi Bear Camp Ground) Hand Spun batts and Lynne Nathan’s (Gunx Cross Fit) blankets. Paula has created a forum for fiber artists in Gardiner and they have flocked to it (baaaaahd). The goods produced by her customers are beautiful. You can participate in this collective of crafters every Wednesday evening from 7 to 9PM and on Fridays from 9 to 11AM. She also offers classes in drawing and “upcycling”—recycling wool products into new creations.
For more information about what Paula is offering this fall check the White Barn’s website: wwwwhitebarnsheepandwool.com or stop in and talk to her. The White Barn’s hours are Wednesday to Friday 1 to 6PM, Saturday 10AM to 6PM and Sunday noon to 5PM.