New Skills in Retirement for Him and Her

My husband has been retired since December first. I find that friends and family are wondering what he has been up to and how we are doing with being around each other more than we used to be.

The short answer is that things are fine. He is spending a great deal of time in his woodshop creating new pieces for a local spring art show that he’s been juried into before. Since he has not participated in the last few years, he’ll have to jury in again, but neither of us see this as an issue.  Currently, he is working on a black walnut writing desk with splayed legs that he turned on the lathe.

Wood turning is a new skill he is working on acquiring. He’s had the lathe for a while now, but it just getting to know how to use it.  In my opinion, his learning curve has been short, and not that steep.  For Christmas, I received two hand-turned wood bowls, one of cherry and one of black walnut. Then, he glued up some stock of various woods and turned a beautiful vase. When “fine tuning” the vase, he made an error and gouged it .

But, he is persistent when it comes to learning a new craft or skill. Back to the shop went the vase, where it was cut and reworked until the gouge was gone. Sealed and polished, he showed it to me again with pride. The vase also became a lovely gift for my bookshelf.

The successful bowl turnings led to turning the legs for the desk.  They are beautiful. But, being that they are splayed at a 14 degree angle, some math, drawings, trial and error, and a prototype were all used to ensure a properly splayed and replicable leg.

Yesterday, I used the drill press for the first time since 8th grade! I was asked to assist in the drilling of the holes for the legs in the desktop since my husband’s arms are only so long, and he’s limited by only having two hands, as well! The desktop is heavy and had to be held in place (flush to a fence), while the drill was used. I got the job of operating the press while he held the desktop. It was fun and easy. And, I even remembered to ask to wear protective eye gear!

But, learning to use the drill press is not my new skill. I am learning to knit. Or, it might be more proper to say, re-learning to knit. My mother in law taught me to knit close to ten years ago when they came out for a winter visit. I caught on fairly quickly and made a couple of scarves.  Just before the holidays, I saw some wonderfully colored yarn on sale and could not resist buying four skeins of it.  Since my mother in law has passed on  and my own mother is left-handed and does embroidery instead of knitting,  I knew I needed a book upon which I could read some reminders on how to resume this craft.


I had spied a book in at the bookstore with some easy looking knitting projects for beginners. This was added to my Christmas list. After receiving it, I still could not follow the written directions on how to cast on, so I turned to YouTube. This is often a source of instruction for my husband when he needs to learn a new skill.  In short order, I had found a video that helped me remember how to cast on and I was on my way.

Still, only using the knit or garter stitch, I have started on the makings of a winter hat. My progress is slow and I can hear my mother in law’s voice whispering in my ear, “your stitches are too tight, relax.” As I well know, and I believe she came to know too, relaxing for me is hard. When I learn something I want to do it in the best possible fashion.  However, it can also be said that my stitches are even and well-formed, making the knit pattern quite pleasant to look at and feel. It might not be so, if I were to be “relaxed.”  So, with the “bad”, comes the “good.”


In retirement, both of us are learning new skills. I think it comes with the new territory of being able to explore what you think you might enjoy, what you’ve always wanted to know or do, and receiving some self-satisfaction from the efforts you have made. It doesn’t have to be turning bowls or learning to knit, learning new skills in retirement can be anything, just about anything, you want it to be. For the second time in one’s life, if you are lucky enough to reach the milestone, you can reinvent yourself and be anything you want to be!



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