This past weekend, I took my first solo road trip in a very long time, to Maryland Sheep and Wool. I felt confident about the drive since I no longer have to drive a stick shift and a kind friend offered long ago to let me stay with her, so this time I took her up on it. I left early Saturday morning, arriving just before the festival opened. The weather was perfect and while it was very crowded, I kept things much lower-key this year and went with the flow. As a result, I was almost completely unstressed and relaxed. It was wonderful. That was learning curve number one. I took pictures of nothing but sheep, which was fun. I love sheep so much, they have amazing personalities and just exude weird and wacky friendliness.
I saw two Facebook/ravelry friends and met a third, and figured out a few important things that had been bothering me for a long time. Mostly, that a great effort to force myself to fit in to a group was never going to work, and that I was uninterested in fitting in anyway. I would rather be lonely than untrue to myself. This was a huge leap, precipitated by some behaviors by others and something I'd been approaching for some time anyway. So I did some culling and deleting of social network acquaintances and groups. It felt good and bad at the same time, but I am confident it was the right decision for me. I have made friends through these groups and acquaintances that I fervently hope will be friends for the rest of my life, but the ongoing baggage was more than I could handle, and my own insecurities and self doubt made it no longer possible to be happy with what was going on and how it made me feel. In some ways I am very sad, and in some ways I feel very free.
The third part of the learning curve came home with me from Maryland.
This is a Country Craftsman saxony spinning wheel. It was probably made in the late 80s or early 90s. I won it at the auction for just $175, an incredible deal for the condition it's in. It's no longer manufactured, and it is in impeccable working order. Not only that, it came with two bobbins in perfect shape, which I understand is quite a rarity. I had it spinning about two hours after getting it in the front door and it felt really good to be able to do that.
The wheel is very different from either of my other two wheels, the Babe Production wheel (which needs repairs AGAIN) and the Kromski Mazurka, which is a lovely wheel but takes a lot of foot power to use. I have to learn to treadle slower, and draft faster. There is much less effort involved in using this wheel once you have it set up. And I really only had to rig up a fake pin (knitting needle, hello), oil the wheel, and futz with the tension before it was off to the races. I'm trying to find a source for more bobbins, I would like two more, and I will eventually have to create a lazy kate out of a shoebox and some knitting needles, but that'll be a snap.
All in all it was a good weekend, full of opportunities to grow both as a crafter and as a person. You can't really ask for more than that.