Save me from pain filled cabin fever with a new hobby?
September 12, 2016 4:03 PM   Subscribe

What are some crafty things I can do with worsening chronic pain? What are some things I can do to distract that don't include what I'm already doing?

My fibromyalgia is worsening as well as some mysterious weakness in my legs and as I head into the fall/winter I find myself running out of crafty distractions.

I knit (used to crochet) but find that I don't have the brain power to keep track or the ability to hold needles for very long. I miss having a craft to do that at least made me feel like I've been somewhat productive when I'm unable to leave the house. What are some other crafts or really any hobby that I can do that is a) relatively cheap b) able to do at home sitting down?

Also, what have you used for distraction when you've watched all the tv, all the netflix, read all the books, checked metafilter 100000 times in a day, etc? I'm finding that distraction is the biggest way to handle my pain but since I've been more or less house bound for the last month or so I feel like I'm going stir crazy and just need to find some other obsession to dive into to forget this stupid body.

I do draw, paint, do stretching/yoga, some meditation, 1000 podcasts already. I can't stand for very long, have very little energy, and can't really do anything requiring strength right now. I live in apartment, with no yard and no balcony if that helps any. I have a dog but said dog is currently with family due to no yard and inability to walk.
posted by kanata to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (33 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Would quilling fit the bill? It's easier to pick up and put down than knitting, where you have to count stitches and rows and work continuously.
posted by christinetheslp at 4:15 PM on September 12, 2016

Make beaded necklaces while listening to audiobooks? You can order the supplies online, you can get pretty glass beads that are reasonably priced, or sparkly crystal ones that are more pricey, depending on how fancy you want the result to look. The bonus to this is you end up with lovely things to wear, and xmas presents for all your friends!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:22 PM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Needle felting. Sweet, sweet needle felting. Or embroidery, which seems fussy and elderly but is pretty great.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 4:28 PM on September 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Watercolour is super fun, startup costs are pretty low (about $25 for a cheap set of colours, cheap pack of brushes, and a pad of watercolour paper at Michael's), it's relaxing, and the cleanup is delightfully minimal. You can watch YouTube tutorials while you paint along to learn how to do it.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 4:28 PM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

You don't mention anything musical, that can be a great way to fill some time and distract oneself.
A lot of instruments are expensive, but you can start cheap.

Harmonicas don't require much/any hand dexterity, and a pretty nice one costs $25.

If you can/like to spend hours on a computer, there are many free/inexpensive ways to make music that way.

Ukeleles are fun and fairly low cost too.

Music can be approached with lots of mental concentration and memorization, but it doesn't have to be, and there's plenty of musical fun to be had, even with low investment.

Happy to help with more detail in there music realm if you're interested.
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:30 PM on September 12, 2016

Jigsaw puzzles are great for this.
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:41 PM on September 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Oh, I'm also having trouble with my vision so fine detail is out (part of the problem I'm also having with knitting is struggling to see stitches) and I do not have a musical bone in my body (pretty much can't even keep a beat). Anything I can do semi-reclined while strapped to TENS machine and heating pads would be great too.
posted by kanata at 4:45 PM on September 12, 2016

Macramé? Or learning knots? Get some thicker rope and it doesn't involve too much fine dexterity. Nice feeling/smelling rope could get into mindfulness opportunities.
posted by platypus of the universe at 4:49 PM on September 12, 2016

Needlepoint or rug hooking on stamped canvases might work for you. They aren't too finely detailed and there's no chart or pattern to follow or counting to do. All you do is match the colour of your yarn to the colour printed on the canvas.
posted by orange swan at 4:52 PM on September 12, 2016

There's weaving, too - it can be done with a cardboard loom (and a big needle).
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:55 PM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Coloring. I like the way it takes me out of myself without much effort on my part.

Maybe some recipes with steps which can be done throughout the day?

Play-doh or clay?

I would probably be playing little games, too, like solitaire or the IQ jump game.
posted by Riverine at 4:57 PM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Similarly to platypus's idea, I was going to suggest one-person cat's cradle, if your hands aren't too stiff/painful. Sorry, not the most inspiring idea but might extend your rope repertoire!

The mention of mindfulness makes me think of the gazillion adult colouring books out there.

Outside the crafting realm, Michel Thomas's language courses are all audio (no books) and progress at a really satisfying rate, so you could make some decent progress in a language without having to sit up enough to read a book. Not a million miles away from listening to podcasts but would give you more of a sense of accomplishment.

Hope you feel better soon.
posted by penguin pie at 4:58 PM on September 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Have you considered knitting with super bulky yarn? Much easier to see the stitches, and the instant gratification factor is way high. As a bonus, a lot of people with hand pain report that larger needles are more comfortable to use.
posted by bilabial at 5:18 PM on September 12, 2016

Maybe do some of the online questionnaires or very very basic task rabbit/mechanical turk assignments and then donate the money to charity?

I mean you could totally keep the money too, but it would give you something to research--which charity this month? And maybe get some satisfaction in what you are doing.
posted by aetg at 5:21 PM on September 12, 2016

Kumihimo. I have similar pain and inattention issues - and varying vision - and with the soft foam disk I can still weave cord. It's pretty, too.
posted by Nyx at 5:26 PM on September 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

Collage, maybe. Holding scissors could be difficult, but I have seen some beautiful ones that include dried flowers.

I hope this passes soon. Take care.
posted by cairnoflore at 5:31 PM on September 12, 2016

Also, what have you used for distraction when you've watched all the tv, all the netflix, read all the books, checked metafilter 100000 times in a day, etc?

- overwatch
- dragon age
- assassin's creed

sometimes excessive animated murdering is all that gets me through the "welp im 100% ready for you mr reaper man" pain level days
posted by poffin boffin at 5:44 PM on September 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Volunteer to moderate a discussion board?
posted by amtho at 5:45 PM on September 12, 2016

Oh, crap, I can completely empathise with this particular flavour of...crap.

Go down any rabbit hole that amuses you -- learn various histories -- no need to special-order serious tomes from the library; just spend a day obsessing over some interesting event and reading what's out there on the web and finding a documentary or two on it. (I'm having a hard time remembering my recent rabbit holes, but I remember, for example, going overboard with the 1972 plane crash in the Andes.)

I just started helping moderate a 200,000+ person group on Reddit. That's, um, a constant source of stuff to do. Most participants are pretty nice. Occasionally they are psycho dirtballs. It's interesting to see who's who. The psycho dirtballs are generally in another country with no idea who I am in real life, so it's easy to laugh at them instead of being rattled.

If your vision improves: mend all your clothes. Mend all your friends' clothes. (Learn to mend first if you don't know how; there all sorts of videos and tutorial pages.)

Make things that require some reading and learning on how to make them but which do not require standing, kneading, those sorts of things. Examples: flavoured liqueurs. Extracts. Homemade soaps, lotions, etc. This gently dated book has a tonne of recipes, with chapters on cleaning solutions, bathroom stuff, other what-not where you can mail-order the ingredients and assemble as instructed while sitting down.

I homeschool my kid. (Somebody asked me how this was possible while disabled recently, and I remain blown away by how marvellously stupid a question this was.) Do you have friends with kids who could use tutoring in topics you enjoy? You could swap errands, home-cooked meals, etc, for tutoring. If you are reasonably amusing and enthusiastic about your topic, it is pleasantly distracting, and requires no getting up (avoid wee children; you want kids of the age where they can bring you a glass of water and not require your getting them one).

Invite people over -- very distracting. They will not care if the meal is Stouffer's lasagna, pre-made salad, box wine, the sort of dessert you make by adding milk to a powder and sticking it in a stand mixer, etc. (Invite somebody to show up early to help you drink a good liqueur or whisky, on the understanding that they will be leaving late once they have helped with clean-up, fuelled by more of the good stuff.)

Lots of the bigger museums, galleries, and more here have (1) wheelchairs to borrow, (2) free admission for your 'helper.' This means you can get a friend to wheel you around wherever in exchange for your scoring them free admission.

My daughter and I really dug making melted plastic bead crafts -- you put a bunch of transparent plastic beads in a baking dish, stick this in the oven, open a window, and hope to get something fun for your window like this. We recently got a bunch more metal cookie cutters, and red/white/green beads in anticipation of giving everybody we know slightly sloppy Xmas ornaments they'll feel obligated to hang on their trees for years. (You can layer the beads in a cookie cutter and put it in the oven, you can use a large whatever-shape cookie cutter outside a smaller whatever-shape and get an outline, etc. Use more beads than you think you will need, though you can add more and re-melt...) I also like the first Perler bead bowl here (IKEA has pleasantly cheap melting beads of that type.)

Speaking of IKEA -- Google "IKEA SIGNE rug hack." I'm guessing if you knit you can do at least some basic sewing? Bunch of cool ideas out there for the little $4 rugs -- storage baskets, pillows, pet beds, tote bags, hallway runners, ottomans, etc.

Frugal up everything -- get a copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette. It is a favourite of mine not only for the money-saving stuff, but all the re-use and repair ideas. Kind of like a craft book for broke grown-ups. If you have rags or can task somebody with getting you some: start work on a rag rug. (Full room-size braided rugs are around $1k at LL Bean; it's hardly a valueless pursuit...)

Finally: make a bead curtain, using large beads so you don't go mad in the process? You could also use homemade beads -- ones rolled from colourful magazine pages would be cheapest, and they're light and you can make them quite long.
posted by kmennie at 5:46 PM on September 12, 2016 [8 favorites]

I'm not sure if your hands would like it, but chain mail? Basically it's using pliers to open and close metal loops; depending on your mental acuity at any given time, you can work on a mindless or a complicated pattern. You can buy the rings or make your own.
posted by metasarah at 6:04 PM on September 12, 2016

Yup - I feel ya.

Surprisingly, the thing that keeps me motivated is working on my Instagram. That said - I use it to mildly promote my art available on Etsy. However it gives me something to do and fun, positive, interaction. I personally do art, crafts, cute house stuff, and outfits.

However I've seen accounts that just have art - even just coloring books!

Even if I don't get to it every day it gives me a reason to actually DO something. Because then I have an end result - to show it off and chat with people about it. Not to mention you can get lost browsing amazing painters and whatever on Instagram.

So, if you're not an "outfit"type of person - do coloring books, small house crafts, whatever, and post it. Lots of people do short films of painting or coloring. Start connecting with people. It makes me feel like I'm "getting out"even though I barely leave the house.

For coloring books I love this Floribunda one. It's stunning. And this birds coloring book.
Both are extremely high quality and printed on one side so you can use paint, markers, etc and not worry about it bleeding to the other side of the page. And there's no rules with coloring. You can do large swaths of color if you're having trouble with detail. I often use my cheapout version of watercolor markers by just using washable markers and a paintbrush with water. I've also used colored pencil and watercolors.
posted by Crystalinne at 6:31 PM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Journaling with stickers? I use my planner as a diary and write a little note about my day and then just decorate the shit out of it using lots and lots and lots of pretty stickers. Etsy shops sell soooooooo many kinds of stickers.
posted by ilovewinter at 6:34 PM on September 12, 2016

Oh and I forgot to mention as I do with most people who post things like this - feel free to message me if you're bored and want a pen-pal. I don't really "do" anything and am here to chat cuz it's sucky to feel cut off and not able to do fun stuff that you used to do.
posted by Crystalinne at 6:34 PM on September 12, 2016

I had a friend who was bed-bound and in constant pain. Her hobby was sending postcards out to people. When she was unable to write much anymore, she got all kinds of cool stamps and stamp pads to decorate the backs of the postcards. We traded postcards for several years; the wall next to my computer monitor is covered with a selection of them so I get to enjoy them every day.
posted by bluebelle at 6:39 PM on September 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Artist Trading Card Community Hope this is helpful!
posted by effluvia at 7:14 PM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Painting your nails.
Creating awesome Pinterest boards.
Coloring, lots of "adult" coloring book and postcard options now.
Write fan fiction for your favorite shows on Netflix.
posted by ellerhodes at 7:29 PM on September 12, 2016

Pick up a new language (or several new languages) on DuoLingo! There are apps to use on your phone or whatever, and the interface is relatively large-print, bright, and uncluttered.
posted by mishafletch at 7:59 PM on September 12, 2016

Genealogy. If you like history , even a little bit, it's awesome.
I'll be doing research and then find myself researching some crazy thing. Today I learned lots about Storyville and it's brothels and the sinking of the General Slocum.
posted by ReluctantViking at 9:00 PM on September 12, 2016

Get into succulents. Buy a few babies and and you can easily learn to propagate them and make cute arrangements which you can decorate with or give as gifts. As a side benefit you will start meeting people IRL and online who are also into this craft/hobby.
posted by latkes at 9:51 PM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've been moving more of my craft time to design with remote/automated construction. Eg you craft on your computer at your own pace, then upload the resulting patterns / plans / design / whatever to an appropriate consumer-facing fabricator that mails the resulting object back to you.

There are a lot of crafts embracing that approach. Book printing, laser cutting/engraving, 3D printing - those are some popular ones but there are a lot more, including textiles etc.

An advantage is that once you've crafted the pattern/plans, you can use them more than once, so you can get a replacement at a later date if the first one gets damaged, or get a set, or give them to friends. etc.
posted by anonymisc at 9:56 PM on September 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I see you have a dog. I recently got a puppy. Right now my small hobby ( because it only requires five minutes at a time in between dealing with my kids) is teaching her dog tricks. We've mastered sit, stay, down etc and are working on playing dead. Look up YouTube, the tricks are endless and generally don't require you to do more than a hand gesture and offer a treat. What's more, who knows, if you are physically incapacitated, your pup can actually be trained to be helpful - getting things from the fridge, fetching you the phone etc. It's ridiculously rewarding to see them pick it up and if your dog is smart, you can be doing it forever. Edit to add I somehow missed the end of your post that said dog is not currently with you - maybe when it returns?
posted by Jubey at 4:03 AM on September 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

this may not be crafty enough but I find it brings a mindless state which allows you to forget your surroundings successfully : colouring by numbers. I picked up a book by accident from my local supermarket, but there are plenty around. I was amazed at how much I enjoyed it. once you get going with a lovely array of colouring pens, time just vanishes. and although it's not "crafty" in and of itself, I use the output to wrap small pressies or put on the front of cards I make. I think this may not be something you can do for very long periods of time due to the holding of the pens, and I would opt for the "larger print" ones so that you don't strain your eyesight, but you may well be able to do a little, a lot, and add it to your armoury of ways to distract yourself.

oh! oh! oh! killer Sudoku!! oh god you can lose HOURS on a tough one of those. I've been doing them for a long time and it can still take an hour EASY to get through even a "tough" one (they come in much harder flavours than that, too). and cheap as chips, too :)
posted by mrmulliner at 7:52 AM on September 13, 2016

Rug/Latch hooking. Get the sort of kits with the precut wool & with a colored background so you just have to follow what is there so no counting stitches, the hook tool is nice & large & easy to hold. It is repetitive so nice & relaxing & the stitches are large enough to see pretty easily, & honestly once you get the hang of it you don't have to look too closely at what you're doing. If you hunt around overstock or Amazon you can often find kits at great prices though you'll have to buy your own hook but they're pretty cheap.
posted by wwax at 11:18 AM on September 13, 2016

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