Thursday, November 05, 2009

Lesson #1

Lesson #1 from SOAR: Learning new skills is HARD.

A confession: I cried in Stephenie Gaustad's workshop the first day when she was teaching us how to spin cotton on a wheel. Not as hard as I cried in Maggie Casey's retreat on long draw a few days later, when Maggie had us switch from spinning wool on a wheel via long draw to spinning cotton on the wheel. That time I had to leave the class, I was crying so hard. I think I was very exhausted by then.

Basically, I couldn't do it. I couldn't spin cotton on a wheel. I could spin cotton on a tahkli and a charkha and a great wheel, but a basic flyer wheel? No.

I don't normally cry all that much. Remember when I broke my ankle badly a few years ago? (No, I am not posting the link to the photo of my ankle in its external fixator and, yes, you should be very grateful I'm not. It wasn't pretty.) I did not cry when I broke it, I did not cry when the emergency orthopedic surgeon reduced the fracture (translation: squooshed the bones back together without anesthetic), I did not cry ever. At all.

So it was a big deal to cry in Stephenie's and Maggie's classes. (I really hope I didn't bother anyone who was in those classes.)

There are actually two lessons to be learned here. Lesson #1A: Exhaustion is not good. Sleep more, eat better, say no to more requests from anyone. I think most reasonably intelligent, properly socialized, sane people learn this in their twenties or thirties; I'm just a little slow.

Lesson #1B: Learning new skills that involve one's hands (both of them) and feet and eyes and brain and alllllll the leetle nerves among all those parts is HARD. And it's OK to fail, to suck more, to be miserable at the new skill. Where character prevails is in the afterward, in the persevering beyond the tears.

I've let a few days go by. I've slept a lot. I'm mostly over the flu I caught at SOAR. I'll probably go back to work tomorrow.

Yesterday afternoon I felt well enough to spin a little. I pulled out the fleece I was working on in September, a lovely pale gray Corriedale x Border Leicester roving I was spinning on my antique Canadian Production Wheel. Apparently, I can still spin; I filled about a quarter of the bobbin in no time flat, before collapsing into bed again. Here's the proof:


Today I got out a little of the cotton sliver Stephenie gave us in class, and I tried spinning it using long draw on the CPW. Bingo.


It's not perfect, but it's yarn. Cotton yarn, spun long draw. Only a few yards, but more than I produced in 6 hours in Stephenie's class. A few months of practice, and it'll be good yarn.

Character-building, indeed.


cyndy said...

ve must suffer for ze arts, yes?

Character building, challenges, all good...

Glad that when you got a bit of rest, you returned to the lessons, and it all worked out.

Spinning is a strange takes 5 minutes to learn a technique... and sometimes- up to 5 years to master it.

PS...remember Gibran said the things that make you happy are the same things that make you sad
(or something like that!)

Laurie said...

Aw, c'mon. At least you have your diagnosis correct (exhaustion).

You KNOW that it takes time for proteins to synthesize new neural connections. That's what your picture shows (cotton yarn).

kim said...

You know, if I based my SOAR experiences on the quality of the yarn I spin in class, I would never have gone back - I spin THE WORST YARN in class - no kidding, even Maggie Casey couldn't find anything redeeming about it, not even after plying and fulling. It SUCKED! But boy did I learn stuff that I took home and practiced and got better at. You just gotta give yourself a break dear. And next year, not so much insanity the week before SOAR, so you can rest up. kthxbai :)

kim said...

And I STILL can't spin cotton on a wheel, so you're already better than me at one thing. ;)