I hit the soft center when carving mine, too. I also got a crack in the wood. I had to keep carving down to rid myself of those areas.
It's HARD making a spoon from a smaller piece of wood. The bowl is hard to fit even the special carving knife in. I think if we had a larger pieces of wood, we wouldn't have encountered these problems. I also realized that a deep bowl on a spoon isn't probably too useful unless one is making a ladle. You could probably carve the rim of the spoon's bowl so it no longer has the squishy center, and then it'd match the handle better too, maybe?
Finding good wood is hard. I've learned that holly is so dense that it doesn't have a soft center, even on tiny twigs. That's why I use it to make little fairy swords and staves. Willow is probably not as dense and so has a larger, softer center than apple wood. I'm wondering if some of the best carving woods are also those with the most BTUs when burning?
I'm thinking you've got the technique and skills down, and the next spoon you carve will be amazing. I'm already eying my next piece of wood to make a spoon with!
I cheated on the bowl and used my Dremel after cutting my hand in the exact same spot as Nicole. BLOOD BROTHERS NOW!
That wood is beach hibiscus, which carves easily and it pretty strong but tends to be a bit thready.
After working on that one, and then losing it when the children cleaned the porch, I tried to go all by hand last weekend at the beach, carving a piece of seagrape wood. That didn't work out, as I had the same problem as Raven. It was invisible until I started carving, but sea grape also has pith through the middle. My piece of wood was looking very nice... and then I hit a very soft core and found out it was worthless for a spoon.
I'll try, try again. I'm using a Mora knife that Marjory Wildcraft sent me as a gift. It holds a very nice edge, but I think a blade with zero curve would do even better.
I also found my first spoon again and am going to work on it some more.