I don’t think I could feel any less “masterful” with my spinning these days. The last round of homework for the OHS Certificate was eight skeins of woolen spinning with a heavy emphasis on the long draw. Or as I like to call it “The Long F*&!ing Draw of Doom”.
My Relationship With The Long Draw
Back in August during the first couple of days of OHS YEAR 1, we were instructed to spin using the long draw. This term literally meant nothing to me and I felt the sinking fear that accompanies the realization that one is in way over one’s head. Of course I totally played it cool, leaned over to my neighbour and said “What the hell is the long draw?”. Luckily this person was wonderful and gave me a little 2 minute lesson even though she’d only known me for a total of 3 minutes. Crisis adverted.
That evening I went back to my room and frantically YouTube’d “long draw” videos. What I found was video after video of graceful, smooth spinning that looked like an easy ballet of pull back from the drafting zone. One video was even set to melodic Celtic music. Five videos later, I sat down at my spinning wheel and thought “okay, smooth pull back from the drafting zone. On-off pinching with the front hand that gently controls the twist. No problemo.”
My blind confidence going into new skills makes even me laugh…
My blind confidence going into new skills makes even me laugh. Despite many years of living I still think a new skill will be a cinch and take me 3 nanoseconds to learn and master. I have this incredible capacity to totally forget the bumpy, and in this case very lumpy, learning curve that precedes every single new skill I learn.
Fast forward to this winter as I struggle through eight skeins of woolen hand spinning homework emphasizing the long draw. Those lumps and bumps continue to crop up. I have a chronic under-spinning problem (does anyone know how to correct that? please share the secret with me!) and my plying is the definition of “loosy-goosy”. There were many a time these past few months where I seriously considered tossing my spinning wheel out the window as I witnessed yet another skein of imperfection come off the bobbin.
Lessons of the Wheel
Pascal, my ever patient partner, has started referring to these tough times where I moan, groan and leave small trails of fibre around the house as “lessons of the wheel”. He reminded me that I’ve already written about the realities of Perfection Paralysis and I managed to struggle over that hurdle. Now I am simply working through a new “lesson of the wheel”. I am in the throes of what I like to call Lonesome Learning. This is the time spent slogging away, often all alone, at a new skill and spending most of that time utterly failing to produce the desired result.
I’m hoping that if I name the process I’ll remember that it has both a purpose and an end. The purpose is to put in the practice and time that are the essential ingredients of learning. The end is the moment when all the stars align and your hands, mind and spirit come together to produce that result you’ve been striving for. In my case, the moment where I too preform the long draw ballet without excessive lump, bump or fluffy under-spin.
Embracing Lonesome Learning
In the spirit of embracing the phase of Lonesome Learning and remembering that failing has both a purpose and an end, I have peppered this post with images of my lumpy, bumpy, under-spun, under-plied long draw, woolen hand spinning. I hope it inspires you to keep spinning and I hope it inspires me to keep going.
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