On learning new tricks (like spinning wool and riding a unicycle, though not at the same time).







I scored a second-hand spinning wheel a couple of years ago in trade for soap. (I know. Right? How could I pass it up?)

I sat down that first day, ever confident, with a lap-full of roving from my local yarn shop. And I proceeded to make – not yarn – but a colossal mess. I had no idea what I was doing. Even YouTube could not save me.

So I took a spinning class and made something rope-like that one could call yarn or one could mistake for the small intestines of a sheep. It depends on your perspective.

Since then I have not done a lot of spinning. With my limiting crafting hours I often choose to knit rather than spin. Because it is easier for me. And while I want my children to push their limits, I wasn't wanting to push my own.

Sure, I've spun a bit and completed a few projects with my own yarn (including this homespun hat which Lupine still loves), but not many.

Lately however as I've moved toward getting rid of all the treasures in my house that aren't being used, I paused at my spinning wheel. Technically I am not a spinner and it should go. But, but… No. I'm keeping it. I am not a spinner, but I so want to be.

And still it sat. Gathering dust.

Last week when I realized that the yarn on my wheel was spun in February (my own blog archives provide too much information about the projects I have left undone, but that's a conversation for another day.), I knew it was now or never.

So I've carved out some time before bed to spin. Sometimes five minutes, sometimes an hour. And what do you know? It's working. I'm learning.

Here is the latest yarn, hot off the wheel. Wabi-sabi to be sure, but good enough for my needs. It's satisfying to see myself making progress. My latest yarn is a single-ply (my first) and the colors are amazing. I'm contemplating some fingerless gloves for a friend who has (while pining away over knits on my kids) politely requested that I could (ahem) knit something for her someday too.

And then there is the unicycle.

Sage and I have been loving this new challenge we've taken on.

As the main photographer in the family I don't have any pictures yet.
(I'm not ready to ride and shoot photos simultaneously, lest I die.)

But who knows. Maybe my next trick is photography via unicycle.

It could happen.

Since we started last week on borrowed unicycles we've laughed ourselves silly, made countless "don't-talk-to-me-know-I'm-concentrating" faces, and yes, gotten a few bruises. It's hard, and ridiculously fun. I'm learning another new trick, and that feels so good.

Viroqua, forever the most happenin' small town on Earth has a unicycle club that we're attending. So we even have a coach and some 8-11 year old mentors who can ride circles around us. Quite literally.

At first I was just going to take Sage and hang out but, come on. Pass up on learning to unicycle at 39? No way.

But here's the kicker: Lupine is learning too, and she's not even on a unicycle.

Lupine has known how to pedal a bike for over a year. But she wouldn't. She would only scooter bike even after we put on her pedals, nervous to rest her feet and go for it.

But on the first night of Unicycle Club as she watched her brother and mama get up and fall off, get up and fall off of the unicycles, she went for it. She mustered her courage, started pedaling, and hasn't stopped.

What a beautiful lesson: to allow our children to see us fall and get up and try agian.

My friend who's been on a unicycle longer than me had the same experience with her son. His big eyes as he watched her fall, and asking, "Are you still learning?"

Oh, yes. We are all still learning.

And demonstrating that gives our children permission to fall down too.

9 thoughts on “On learning new tricks (like spinning wool and riding a unicycle, though not at the same time).

  1. Kathleen says:

    I grew up playing music. Singing in musicals, playing sax, clarinet, and drums. Once college hit, I put that aside. Had my gals. They are now 9 and 7. One has played guitar for 3 years now and the other got her beloved banjo for her past birthday. So, I passed the music gene onto my gals, but something was missing for me. So, in June I bought a mandolin. I have been playing ever since. I am so excited every time I sit down to learn a new song, scale, or way of moving my hands. It is important for me to always be a student of life. Learning, practicing, mastering. Love it.

  2. Teri says:

    It is a great gift to give our children – for them to see us always trying and trying again. I too am learning to spin, and let me tell you how frustrating it was on day one! I could not get it!! But I’m slowly learning. I think I need to carve out some time for myself to spin as well. This winter’s project – learning a song on the piano.

  3. Susie says:

    I just plied my first (itty-bitty) skein from my drop spindle. I took up the drop spindle in the hope that I would gain some confidence to move to the lovely wheel my friend gifted to me last year. I was at the Highland Folk Musuem last week and a lovely lady dressed in 1700’s scottish highland garb thought me to drop spin. So, hopefully I’ll be joining you in your spinning adventures on my wheel too. I,too, was contemplating moving my unused wheel on, in a simplicity drive, but I just know there is a spinner in me! Best of luck to you!

  4. meghann says:

    The yarn is gorgeous! I’ve been working with a drop spindle (trying to get my father to make me a spinning wheel from some plans I found online…) and I wish I could get something as nice as what you have there! xo

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