Spinning a new hobby with wool
LIFE on a farm can often be a bit higgledy-piggledy.
Drought keeps you watering morning and evening just to keep things alive, dried-out pastures force you to go further afield to feed animals, and mice or grasshoppers or kangaroos eat the plants or trees you've worked so hard to grow.
But other times, life is amazingly rich and beautiful, especially when the rains come.
Suddenly parched fields are shimmering waves of green, and vegetables and fruit trees don't have to be watered for days because the rain did such a great job.
In those moments it's lovely to take a break from it all and bask in the knowledge that all is well.
I was able to do that last week, able to leave the gardens and animals and orchards and land, and do something I've been wanting to do for a long time: learn how to spin wool.
My friend Mim is a highly skilled spinner and weaver who has mastered drop spindles, spinning wheels, and looms, creating stunning works of art based on medieval patterns and techniques.
She's also a patient teacher, thank goodness, and soon helped me navigate the unique vocabulary of spinning and knitting.
Before long she had me carding wool for the first time, using firm rocking motions to transform twisted lumps of tangled wool into smooth, knot-free batts of wool ready for the spinning wheel.
Mim showed me how to take apart the wheel for cleaning, where to rub with lanolin to keep things running smoothly, and how to adjust the tension.
Then she showed me how to spin. It looked so easy when she did it.
Fingers expertly stretching the wool so it fed in evenly as her foot pumped rhythmically, keeping the wheel going at a steady clip.
Then it was my turn. Within seconds the wool I was holding was a mangled bunch of fibres, the spinning wheel was running backwards, and my "thread" was a lumpy, bumpy mess.
Clearly I am not a natural.
Mim assured me that I will get better with practice, and that it's perfectly normal to thoroughly mess everything up the first time around. Bless her for that.
I'm going to keep trying, and will try again and again until I learn how to co-ordinate everything, figure out the feel and give of the wool, and remember to keep the peddle going so it doesn't suddenly lurch into reverse.
I'll get there.