Need at home project(s) or mini-challenges
March 15, 2020 8:10 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a project or a series of small projects that'll take me 1-30 days to complete - things I can do at home alone. Perhaps cooking, making something new, learning a new skill or getting better at an existing one.

I live in a rented flat (apartment) in England with no balcony or usable outside space, but I have an extra room. I do not have a car.

I'd like to consider:

* Making something like pickles, kimchi, cheese, bone broth or something that takes time and some attention (food allergy: crustaceans) (dislikes: organ meats)

* Crocheting or knitting (no sewing machine)

* Exercises, perhaps learning to do splits, a headstand, yoga or something (note: there are people living below me)

* Open to other suggestions

I'd like to avoid:

* Requiring expensive/heavy/large equipment

* DIY/Fixing up things (rented flat)

* Alcohol

* Art (taking a class later this year)

I have access to Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Eastern European, Caribbean, SE Asian and regular UK shops (no Latin-American or South American). There are also homeware and craft shops nearby.

My hobbies are reading, creative writing, listening to podcasts, studying languages (Mandarin and Japanese beginner!) and occasional video games.

Equipment: Fancy blender (vitamix), milk frother, microwave, oven, electric kettle, hand mixer, PS4, Vita, PC and Tablet PC.

Budget is £300.
posted by Ms. Moonlight to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'm not quite clear on whether you're considering a knitting project (i.e. you already know how) or learning to knit AS a project. If the latter, I'm sure I wont be alone in saying this would be really fun. A few good things about it:

1) There are a billion youtube videos. This is good because it's fussy enough at first that learning from a picture or description is hard.

2) the budget is very low. For your first project, get a pair of big needles and some not that fancy yarn of a corresponding bigness, look up two basic skills (casting on, which is weird but you just do it once at the beginning of the project, and the knit stitch) and then knit until a) you know how really well, and b) you have a scarf. This will take a while and cost you a tiny fraction of your budget.

3) It can be, once you pick up on it, the right mix of simple and absorbing that on the one hand it's kind of meditative and on the other you can half be engaged with it and half watching Netflix or something.

I learned ten years ago and it's been one of the very nice things in my life.
posted by less of course at 8:19 AM on March 15, 2020 [5 favorites]

(If, on the other hand, you already know how and are looking for a 30 day project, I have been enjoying making blankets. This would depend on your knitting speed, of course. You could get enough of a nice merino yarn like Malabrigo to do a blanket for like £80.)
posted by less of course at 8:24 AM on March 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

There are various musical projects/challenges that you could undertake fairly easily and inexpensively. For example there are various apps which can teach you to sight read. Also lots of lessons on music theory. You could get yourself a small keyboard, ukulele etc for not very much and use that for your studies.
posted by rongorongo at 8:28 AM on March 15, 2020 [4 favorites]

Can confirm making kimchi and pickles and cheese is very fun. The first two have loads of recipes online, and you can order cheesemaking kits for lots of styles of cheese. I recommend starting with mozzarella/ricotta and proceeding from there.
posted by ananci at 9:07 AM on March 15, 2020

Best answer: There are a ton of yoga videos on YouTube and you don’t really need a mat. If you’re new to yoga try typing “beginner yoga” so you don’t get anything too difficult.

In terms of other time consuming potential activities:
-1000 piece jigsaw puzzles
-bread making (takes a ton of time but not much active time)
-organizing the entire apartment
-model making (cars and planes are typical but there are a lot out there)
-cross stitch
-soap making
-candy making (very meticulous)
-baking (not quite as meticulous as candy making right off the bat, but can be as complex as you want it to be)
-friendship bracelet making
posted by donut_princess at 9:18 AM on March 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Clarification (thanks less of course!): I want to learn how to knit, crochet, make pickles, do yoga, etc.

Music sounds great but only if I can use it with headphones (don't want to bother neighbours).

Any introductory websites, books or apps very welcome.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 9:32 AM on March 15, 2020

Best answer: I find putting together jigsaw puzzles (especially the 1000 piece puzzles) to be very satisfying. I often listen to online books via youtube while I put them together.
posted by SageTrail at 9:46 AM on March 15, 2020

Best answer: Sourdough bread. I really like these two videos. If you have a bread bakery near you, you can ask for some sourdough starter or as part of this effort, you can also make your own starter (which is dead easy but takes about a week).

Charming Irishman version
Charming Frenchman version
How to make sourdough starter

A scale for weighing ingredients is especially handy.
posted by shoesietart at 10:30 AM on March 15, 2020

Best answer: One of our local yoga studios is going to try out live streaming: Bluebird Sky Yoga will try streaming its 12:30 p.m. yoga class via Facebook Live starting Monday. This will be free/donation based. This is 12:30 PM U.S. Eastern time so I guess 4:30 PM where you are? Here is their facebook page.

It looks like they are also going to do other yoga classes online/streaming, but for a registration fee.
posted by gudrun at 10:36 AM on March 15, 2020

Best answer: Do you make bread? Have friends who bake? Make your own sourdough starter. Starter can also be used to make pancakes and waffles.
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:44 AM on March 15, 2020

Best answer: I knit, and I agree with less of course that it's relaxing and won't take up all your budget (unless you get lots of really fancy yarn!). Once you get the hang of it, it's very meditative.

If you are interested in learning to knit or crochet, you may want to make an account at Ravelry to select a simple pattern for a hat, scarf or shawl. The advanced pattern search lets you search by difficulty, so you can find an easy pattern. Plus you can see how other people's projects turned out, and chat with people in the communities there.
posted by Lycaste at 12:02 PM on March 15, 2020

Best answer: I was also going to suggest making a sourdough starter -- this is a really great tutorial. Bonus: you can use the discarded starter for delicious sourdough waffles.

If you have access to brisket, pickling spices, and curing salts, you could brine a brisket over the next week and then slow cook it. Delish.

I also knit and have been picking up crochet, self-taught from the internet and totally feasible. Stick with limited, basic supplies and cheap yarn while you're learning -- there's endless supplies, but you really want to get a feel for what works for you and what you like before you start investing.
posted by DoubleLune at 1:33 PM on March 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm a keen self-taught crocheter and I think it would fit your requirements perfectly. There are tons of free on-line crochet resources and the kit can be relatively cheap to pick up. I'm also UK based and happy to point you in the direction of resources I've found beneficial?

PS4 - how about joining a gaming clan and putting some time into something like Minecraft or Destiny? Both could be described as a mini-project or challenge and also provide some social interaction, if that is something you would welcome.
posted by ErisMorn at 1:48 PM on March 15, 2020

Best answer: Since you have access to Asian ingredients and are learning to speak Japanese and Mandarin, I'll toss out having daily cookalongs with YouTube chefs in your target language! I've done this with German and it's really interesting to not just make the recipes and pick up bits of language, but also see how home kitchens are set up, and what tools they use.
posted by apparently at 2:18 PM on March 15, 2020

Best answer: Expensive equipment might preclude this, but are you interested in various different tea ceremonies between different East Asian cultures?

Papercraft can be a useful skill. Requires a modest initial investment in some paper cutting tools* and a variety of paper to work with. Lots and lots of youtube tutorials/ guides.

Instead of giving someone a HallmarkTM card, you can make and give them some handmade and personalized papercraft.

A cousin of mine had a job at a high-end Hong Kong luxury store real-time crafting custom papercraft for the clientele, like garnishes for their fancy bags that their purchases were carried out in, and stuff.

*a craftsperson shouldn't blame their tools, but they require a base quality of their tools
posted by porpoise at 5:41 PM on March 15, 2020

Best answer: Irish lace crochet has a steep learning curve, but the skill-to-cost ratio can go as high as you want. Historic masterworks, the terrifically colorful modern style, how-to books are mostly inexpensive reprints. And you start by making lots of little bits, which lends itself to doodling in thread, and deciding when you're bored of a set that you will attach them into something of that size.
posted by clew at 6:13 PM on March 15, 2020

Response by poster: Eponysterical, ErisMorn!

Thanks everyone, this is all up my alley. The sourdough recipes as well as the brine recipes sound exactly like I was looking for. The yoga and crochet/knitting will keep me busy.

I'm going to close this soon-ish so thanks again. :)
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 11:18 AM on March 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

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