I need a hobby
July 4, 2020 10:10 PM   Subscribe

I could use some assistance trying to figure out something fun to do in my spare time that fits my many snowflake criteria below.

It has been years since I've had a hobby. For a while I was under the typical "working parent with small child" crunch and had no time. More recently, now that the children are older and more self-sufficient, I've been dealing with a lot of life chaos including severe depression. I think I'm finally crawling out of that hole a bit but am finding it a challenge to fill the precious free time I have in a healthy way (too often I just default to surfing the web and I would rather not). Here are my challenges - perhaps you can help me brainstorm?

- I have more time than I used to, but it generally comes in small bits in between things. The only consistent bits of time in multi-hour chunks I get are on the weekends. So it has to be something that I can easily put down and pick up without a lot of prep work or planning. No classes or things that require a schedule or where other people rely on me.

- Coronavirus restrictions mean that anything involving regular gym time are out. I'm not really after a physical activity either, more like a "doing" type hobby along the lines of crafts or something. I do walk a lot so I'm okay physical-activity-wise.

- I really, really do not want it to be something involving a screen. I have far too much of that in my life as it is. Something where I do something in the physical world with my hands and body would be wonderful.

- It is winter here in Australia. It can't be anything that requires a lot of outside time or sun. Gardening requires too much motivation and prep; I've tried and it's just too much given my level of depression.

- I do not want it to have anything to do with cooking or food. Not only is there the prep work aspect of it, but I really dislike cooking. For me it is a terrible combination of stressful and boring.

- Because of the aforementioned depression, which I'm still struggling with, my concentration is pretty shot and I cannot emotionally handle most media (anything involving relationships, children, sexuality, gender, despair, fascism, sadness, trauma, etc., is right out). I used to be a big reader but have not been able to get into almost any books for these reasons. Similar problem with most TV shows or movies. So please don't recommend things I can binge-watch or read, much as I enjoy it when I find something good.

- I used to love writing and still often have plot and story ideas bubbling in my head. But my day job involves a lot of writing and anytime I sit down to put pen to paper it feels too much like work. Plus, it's on a screen. Nope.

- Similarly, I enjoy computer programming. But I do that in my day job too and doing it (even for fun projects) feels like work. And it's on a screen. Nope.

- What I want is some kind of craft, I think. Where I use my creativity to make something and have something at the end to show for it. It needs to be the right combination of "accessible to a beginner" and "lets you use your creativity" and "lets you enjoy it right away" and "has the scope to show improvement and get better and better" though. For instance, I tried paint-by-numbers (which I loved as a kid) but it was unsatisfying as an adult because there was no scope for creativity and improvement. I don't think something like knitting would work because I don't think I would find the actual doing of it sufficiently absorbing (I have ADD). But I think there might be a lot of crafts that don't have these issues? I do really like painting (I find it very meditative) but actual painting of actual pictures is too hard right now -- requires too much creativity and motivation from me.

- In my ideal ideal world, this would be something with some kind of structured "thing" I could follow at least to start off. The depression is still sapping me of focus and motivation a lot so the less mental work I have to do to start myself off, the better. Like an "intro to X" webpage or book or kit which says these are the materials you need and here are some starting projects you could do or whatever. If it has scope to do awesome creative stuff eventually at some point when I feel better able to, or where I can improvise off the basic theme with creative stuff, that would be great though.

So... ideas? Assume I have a basic amount of money to spend on this but don't want to spend a lot until I know that it's working for me. Also I don't have a huge amount of space (e.g., I can't start a carpentry workshop or something) although I do have a bit so that's not hugely limiting. I don't care that much about creating anything hugely awesome or to share or show people -- I just want something for me that I can use a different bit of my brain for that will give me a feeling of accomplishment and fun.
posted by forza to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (44 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
I have been making kites. Mostly from thin wooden dowels (almost dowelettes, really), strong thread, glue, and bright plastic tablecloths. A glue gun is useful, and I’m just getting into using aluminum tubing.

Very satisfyingly crafty, lots of room to start simple and get more complex, and you get to look forward to some future nice-weather outdoor time. Plus most will fold flat if they’re not already flat.
posted by sixswitch at 10:21 PM on July 4 [6 favorites]

I think you sound like a perfect candidate for an embroidery kit. Not cross-stitch, which is incredibly boring IMO, but the kind with different kinds of stitches (you can build up interesting 3-d textures eventually), which you do either with embroidery floss or with yarn (which is called crewel embroidery.) You can find lots of kits that have everything you need in it and it's basically a piece of lineart printed onto fabric that you "color in" with stitches according to directions, or you can put patterns onto transfer paper and iron it onto your own fabric, or do freehand ideas when you get comfortable. It's very fast to pick up and put down, because you just thread the needle and do a few stitches, then stick the needle into the fabric, stash it in a bag, and walk away. It's very easy to see your progress, both in the completion of an image and the increasing quality of your stitches, so it can have a pretty good feedback loop, even if you start out very lumpy. And if you buy a bunch of supplies and walk away from it for years you can come back to it - my mom has inherited some half-finished kits from her mom dating back to the 60s and finished some, I know I'll probably inherit at least one of them too. Since the instructions are printed you can just keep it all in a zip-top bag and stash it easily. There are lots of different styles of embroidery and plenty of things to learn about its history if you're into that, or you can do tongue-in-cheek modern designs (stitching curse words on pillow cases is an honorable tradition.)
posted by Mizu at 10:22 PM on July 4 [9 favorites]

(Plus the geometry is engaging but not very stressy. Nice transition out of programmer headspace.)
posted by sixswitch at 10:22 PM on July 4


Crafty ideas- embroidery is good. Paper curling or card making? Post card sized drawings?

What about learning an instrument like the ukulele?
posted by freethefeet at 10:31 PM on July 4 [1 favorite]

posted by slidell at 10:38 PM on July 4

Drawing and painting sound perfect for you, you just need a little structure.

A few suggestions: Try following Amy Maricle's Mindful Art Studio; she puts up a free (usually abstract) art workshop once a week on her facebook page which is available live and usually for a few days after as a replay.

This professor is putting his Drawing 1 class online this summer for free. Manageable and satisfying weekly video tutorials and assignments.

If you want an artistic practice that is meaningfully social and interactive, Odyssey Works' experience design workshops have been mind-blowingly satisfying as a quarantine activity, and they're one-shot events rather than ongoing classes.
posted by shadygrove at 10:43 PM on July 4 [15 favorites]

Get a $10 pair of kevlar gloves and a woodcarving kit and start making spoons or animal figurines?
posted by less of course at 10:45 PM on July 4 [7 favorites]

Needle felting. It's easy to start and get recognizable things out of your early projects and the better you get at it the more ambitious you can be with your creations. Relatively little needed for materials to start as well. The repeated stabbing motions are also rather cathartic.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 10:45 PM on July 4 [5 favorites]

Combining bujo with drawing might also help with feeling organized and pulling out of depression. Try Shayda Campbell's youtube channel for pretty floral illustration bujo tutorials
posted by shadygrove at 10:50 PM on July 4 [1 favorite]

How about paper mosaic collages? You can make anything from color studies or abstract doodles with bits of glued-down paper to glorious, intricate pieces that look like paintings. It’s easy to leave and come back to, kind of meditative and absorbing if you want to be in that head space, and usually looks great when you’re done. Plus it uses up old magazines you have lying around.
posted by centrifugal at 10:51 PM on July 4 [4 favorites]

I'd recommend trying knitting and crochet, and maybe also cross-stitch.
posted by Mauve at 10:54 PM on July 4 [5 favorites]

You could trying making rolled paper baskets. The article says to use newspaper but you can also use phone book pages, magazines, pretty much any kind of thin paper. There are a zillion different styles you can make and it costs practically (maybe even literally) nothing in terms of supplies.
posted by mezzanayne at 10:55 PM on July 4 [3 favorites]

I’ve been enjoying the occasional watercolor painting tutorial at Let's Make Art. You can buy a monthly subscription box with all the supplies, or you can just follow along with the free tutorials available on the individual kit pages. (A bit of screen time required for the tutorial though.) Beginner lessons here.

Alternatively there are learn to watercolor books, although I don't have a specific recommendation.
posted by lemonade at 10:59 PM on July 4 [4 favorites]

Modular origami - can make individual unit pieces as you have time, then (when you'e finished making all the pieces) have a nice session of assembling the pieces into a single structure.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 11:19 PM on July 4 [2 favorites]

Needle punch embroidery is cool - the scale is much larger than regular embroidery. It has enough freedom to not feel limiting and enough limits to not feel overwhelmed.

(ADD high five - hobbies are hard.)
posted by meemzi at 11:26 PM on July 4 [1 favorite]

Origami. Talk about no prep time required. The material is not too expensive (or hardly expensive at all; for many models you can use any old paper lying around; but it's easier, more fun and generally not bank breaking to use the special paper) and easily stored away. Finished products usually also don't take up too much space and are nice-give-aways for a lot of occasions, which is an important concern for me, because I'm not the tidiest of people and need to minimize stuff that catches dust. You get results even if you can't spend big junks of time at once. Downside: I've been at it for a while but I'm still miles away from the skill needed to design my own models, so for me it's mostly about following instructions and the room for creativity is constricted to choosing the colour of the paper/how to combine certain elements when doing modular origami. But I've definitely seen some increase of skill over time in terms of the sophistication of the models I can pull off and that has been sufficiently satisfying for me.

Things I'd like to try should I find the time:
Calligraphy, Hand-Lettering. Also great for give-aways, also manageable requirements for equipment.

I enjoyed painting as a kid, but like you I find it kinda harder nowadays, more difficult to get started, find a motive, etc. The benefit of caligraphy and hand-lettering, I imagine, would be that it's something where you can definitely start with just copying stuff, focus on the required skills first.

What I still sometimes do however is making little sketches of my surroundings, when I'm travelling, or people in a meeting/training I have to attend and find boring (not recommended in settings where it's important for professional reasons to seem attentive). They are generally shitty and I don't show them to anyone, but it pleases me anyway, because I mostly do it in lieu of writing a journal entry. I'm very sloppy about journaling, but it's nice to have some way to retrace my steps a bit, and the sketches can be a good compromise.

Memorize my favourite poems. Another favourite boring meeting/training activity. Can be done in brief snippets of time. Then, when I go for a walk or wait at the train station with no one else around, I can entertain myself by reciting it to myself in the most dramatic fashion, because I'm a bit of a secret actress and love dramatic monologues. Can be a nice party trick, but only on very limited occasions. (I've maybe been on two parties in my life where that stuff would fly).
posted by sohalt at 11:28 PM on July 4 [2 favorites]

Thanks to the green, I just watched a few episodes of the Great British Sewing Bee. One of the contestants of Season 4 is a scientist and mom and has a blog with some tutorials, e.g. for sewing a kindle cover. Knitting is too repetitive and slow-progress for my ADHD, but simple sewing projects might be cool if they’re not too fiddly. What is meditative for many is often frustrating for me, another one with variety of things to do I thought of is making and furnishing a doll house. I haven’t done any of these, just thought perhaps the thought process fits with your requirements.
posted by meijusa at 11:34 PM on July 4 [1 favorite]

You said writing involves a screen, but it doesn't have to - writing longhand is a thing, and I often do it when I don't have access to my computer, or want to spend some time with pen and paper.

You could also try brush or dip pen lettering - as a bonus, once you develop a little skill, you can make pretty labels or wow your friends and family by mailing them things with calligraphed addresses.
posted by Tamanna at 12:12 AM on July 5 [2 favorites]

sohalt and Tamanna's suggestion of calligraphy is a great one. Learning Italic calligraphy changed the way I perceive the printed word - enhanced, deepened and intensified it. And there are also umpteen other styles to explore, like uncial, various kinds of blackletter or copperplate. All you need to start is a dip pen, a few steel nibs and ink and paper. A fountain pen with an italic nib would also do, though it's less ideal because less responsive. I learned through a combination of an arts class and instruction books; but I think one ought to be able to learn through books alone. You'd want to do some research to find a good manual and also a copy-book which supplies letter forms to imitate. Some likely looking leads.
posted by bertran at 12:38 AM on July 5 [1 favorite]

Oh, just want to add that while calligraphic writing has provided me with all sorts of satisfaction at the level of ordinary personal use, people who get really into it do produce bonafide works of art such that other people will frame and hang on their wall, or that contribute the text to handmade books in the style of illuminated manuscript; so the creative possibilities are pretty boundless.
posted by bertran at 1:01 AM on July 5

I recently developed a new hobby of planted freshwater aquariums. People make some REALLY cool things. It satisfies creativity, I’m learning new things, I’m giving a home to a poor pet store fish, and I get an amazing centerpiece for my room. I’m starting with 5 gallon planted tanks for a betta fish, but people go crazy. It’s also super satisfying and relaxing to watch your new pets enjoy their environment. It’s also kind of a newer hobby, so it’s growing rapidly. It can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. Small “nano” tanks are very popular, and the living plants ensure you always have something to do to tend to your mini underwater garden

posted by christiehawk at 1:19 AM on July 5 [6 favorites]

How about crocheting amigurumi (crocheted stuffed animals or dolls)? It’s less repetitive than crocheting or knitting a blanket or a scarf etc. because the individual pieces are pretty small and require attention because the patterns usually don’t have tons of boring repeats. There are all in one kits available, and I highly recommend Planet June as a resource for tutorials and tricks for crocheting amigurumi specifically.
posted by MadamM at 1:48 AM on July 5 [4 favorites]

posted by mikek at 2:05 AM on July 5 [3 favorites]

Music? I bought a recorder about two months ago. (Yes, really, they aren't just for kids) and I've been playing it for 20 minutes or so a day since. It's amazing how quickly you improve. You can buy books of graded sheet music that gradually increases in complexity, or just download a whole lot of random things you'd like to try. (Any melodic line in C, F, or G seems to work fine as long as it doesn't go below middle C).

At first I had to look up the fingering for every single note as I played through a piece, but just with repetition I got so I can play most things I've downloaded now at a normal speed without stopping, and it actually sounds all right. There's also lots of youtube tutorials but you mentioned not wanting to do screens so that might not be ideal.
posted by lollusc at 4:44 AM on July 5 [2 favorites]

Seconding "knitting and crochet". But I'd lean towards "crochet" in your case for two specific reasons:

1. It's slightly faster.
2. If you stick to granny squares, it's WAY more portable.

And "granny squares" may indeed be a fun way in. You can produce a single one pretty quickly, so that seems ideal for the thing you make when you have smaller chunks of free time. You could probably start and finish one, and get started on a second, within only five minutes, if they're all the same color. If you've got ten minutes, that'd probably be enough to get through a multi-colored one. And so you could just always be making these granny squares when you have a moment, adding them to a pile, and then when you finally have a bigger block of free time, that's when you can gather a bunch of the squares together and connect them all into a blanket or a table runner or some other thing.

There's a sweet blog I follow by someone called Pip Lincolne who does a lot of crochet, and she has some crochet tutorials as well. Although, if you're REALLY new to crochet, you may want to try to find one of her books instead first, as her blog uses the Australian crochet terms which are a little different from US crochet; however, with a little crochet experience under your belt you could "translate" pretty easily.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:04 AM on July 5 [3 favorites]

I think you should go ahead and learn to knit/crochet not necessarily as your final destination in crafting, but because a lot of people find it helps to manage their ADHD.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:33 AM on July 5 [1 favorite]

Origami would satisfy a bunch of your requirements. Drawing—just sketching the kids, your hand, the house across the street—doesn’t feel like it needs as much of a creativity impetus as painting for me, and has a really significant improvement curve. Maybe paper puzzles like crosswords and/or sudoku? I tend to fall in and out of them, myself, but they hit most of your requirements.

Knitting and spinning yarn deeply satisfies the borderline ADD-ness of my brain, but not on its own; it has a symbiotic relationship with movies, and books on tape. I’d also say, don’t bother starting with a scarf, go to something smallish and slightly more complex like a hat or mittens. It’d be both more engaging and less of a commitment.

In re: reading, I’ve also been struggling until I realized it’s fiction that is not working for me right now. Nonfiction has been way better since I basically know the shape of what’s coming.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:07 AM on July 5 [1 favorite]

I feel like origami - especially modular origami - would work for you. You can buy packs of 1000 sheets and there are many patterns online. Little Turtle is nice one from Tomoko Fuse. You make 30 little units and put them together into a ball (dodecahedron) and you have a nice ornament.
posted by soelo at 6:57 AM on July 5

Sewing or quilting? Has a lot of different parts, requires some thought about color, etc. you. You can find a million free or affordable patterns online. Instagram has a huge modern quilting community which may have more aesthetic appeal than some of the old fashioned quilts. Haptic Lab has amazing patterns that allow you to create a map in a quilt - constellations, the world, various US cities. I found the star map quilt really absorbing and satisfying.
posted by john_snow at 7:16 AM on July 5 [1 favorite]

I’ve been crocheting a lot. Crochet always made more sense to me than knitting so that’s the one i like. I taught myself how to years ago with a YouTube video or two, and there are only more resources now. You can follow patterns exactly or make up your own.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 7:18 AM on July 5 [1 favorite]

"Learn to paint acrylics with 50 small paintings" This book is kind of halfway between paint by number and painting on your own. It is step by step instructions to paint 50 small paintings. Set up a painting station on a small desk or table so you are ready to go and enjoy painting a new little painting in your small bits if time.

This one is acrylics and there is also a watercolor one:

posted by halehale at 7:22 AM on July 5 [1 favorite]

Make kites in the winter, fly them in the summer. I’m partial to Indian fighter kites but there’s also trick tumbling box kites, 2- and 4-line stunt kites, power/lifting kites, aerial photography etc. Anyone can memail me if you’d like to hear more :)
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:23 AM on July 5

Possibly building models - the kit style - of cars, planes, boats, etc.
posted by davidmsc at 7:48 AM on July 5 [1 favorite]

I got into sewing cloth masks to give away for the pandemic. I've got a little rack set up by my mailbox, and a box of them on the counter at work. I find that for me, it scratches much the same itch as spending an evening out on the shop, welding. I think at one point my brain went "Well, yeah, this is just a welder for a different kind of material." I've been turning out 3 or 4 masks every evening, and usually manage to get a dozen or more done on the weekend. I like the variety of fun fabrics, and the challenge of tweaking a pattern until I am happy with the results. I think the main reason I find it so satisfying is that as messed up as the world is right now, this is something that I can do to feel like I am making a difference in my community. It has been a much-needed dose of positive energy in these dark days.
posted by xedrik at 7:58 AM on July 5 [5 favorites]

Origami is something you get steadily better at - your folds get more consistent, you get better at interpreting the instructions, you're able to fold more and more complex models.

Here's a simple jumping frog. Fold it from a business card or an index card, or a little rectangle cut from a cereal box. The smaller it is, the springier it is.

Satisfying at all? Then here's a site with a good run-through of the different basic folds. It'll help you understand how to read standard diagrams, which opens up a lot more resources to you.

Here's the first modular origami model I learned, the sonobe cube. No glue, no scissors, nothing but the simplest of folds. If you make a cube with two sheets of each of three contrasting colours, it's very pleasing.

There are lots of instructions online, both written and in video form. Me, I like books, for their consistency (and probably also because I just like books), and there are plenty of them to choose from if you do too; the ones I learned from are likely long out of print, but anything aimed at beginners should be accessible enough to get you started.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 8:06 AM on July 5 [1 favorite]

I'm going to suggest crochet, too, but specifically to mention free-form crochet. Granny squares might satisfy that itch to MAKE, but if you're running into certain kinds of challenges that might make you struggle to put them together and COMPLETE something when you're done, they might not be the right choice right now.

I suggest freeform because it would allow you to just create and make something interesting, and use whatever colors and materials and techniques feel good at the time.

I tend to think of there being four different types of crochet projects.
- There's freeform, which I mentioned above. The goal is interesting textures, beauty, whatever you want to do. It's totally open, no patterns required, though learning new stitches and techniques might be desired to add variety. Since it's so flexible, it's not as demanding of concentration.
- There's pattern-based, which is your standard, follow a pattern and "get this exact object" sort of thing. That requires more mental attention and concentration, and can be more difficult to pick up and put down, depending on the pattern. (Though SMALL items might work well, too.)
- There's piece-based, which requires making a batch of the same item, in whatever color, and then using them at the end to put something coherent together. This would be granny squares, or hexagons, or panels... and basically, once you learn the pattern, you don't have to pay quite as much attention to it anymore. There's usually still some counting involved to make sure the object turns out right, but it's much more portable and requires a lot less mental energy. These require you to put them together at the end, and sometimes that's a roadblock. A lot of scrap projects fall into this category.
- And then there's what I think of as line-based or stitch-based. You'll see patterns, scrap or otherwise, like this, too - but the thing is, they consist of just a repetitive stitches that you just keep repeating into a fabric. After you've decided your width, you count/measure that, get a couple rows started, and pretty much don't have to think about it. These are good projects for when you want to sit and veg in front of the tv, but want to accomplish something, too. They can be as simple as all single crochet, or something more moderately complicated like a shell stitch, or even more. The key thing is that you don't have to count, depending on the stitch you might not even need to look at it as you work, and you can pretty much always just look at it and pick right back up where you left off. The pro of this type, in comparison to piece-work style, is that you don't have to put it together when you're done, though you might want a border. The con is that is just plain isn't as portable as piecework.

So... one skill, crochet - with a ton of different ways to actually put that skill into practice, depending on your needs at the time. I tend to have multiple projects going, so I have one for vegging in front of the TV, one that's portable, and (sometimes) one that's pattern-centric. It allows me to work on what I need at that moment, and eventually, projects get done.
posted by stormyteal at 8:48 AM on July 5 [4 favorites]

You might try juggling? I find it very soothing for the mind, and engaging for the hands. It's easily picked up and put down (or dropped!) for short stints, and I don't know anybody who juggles who doesn't find great joy in it.
posted by TheCoug at 11:13 AM on July 5 [2 favorites]

nthing that you consider knitting/crocheting, especially crocheting. When you are first learning how to do it, it will take more of your concentration. Once you get better at it, you can decide whether you want to focus on patterns that take more concentration or if you want to stick with more repetitive patterns that take less focus and allow you to for example listen to a podcast.

As someone with ADD, I found crocheting a great way to keep my hands busy while my mind was otherwise occupied. It actually helped me focus more. Unfortunately, I've mostly had to give up knitting/crocheting due to some physical health issues, but I really miss it.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:27 AM on July 5 [1 favorite]

I'll chime in with coloring. If you need a guide, you can start with color by number. I love to color in books of patterns. In fact, I often challenge myself to be as random as possible. To be more creative. If I want a bunch of yellow and purple birds with teal feet, I go for it.

Crayons, gel pens, markers, brush markers, colored pencils... They all scratch a different itch for me.

I'll nth embroidery. I have a stamped kit I'm never going to do. If you'd like to try it, MeMail me and I'll send it. The only thing you'd have to buy is a small hoop.
posted by kathrynm at 12:00 PM on July 5

Electronics. Like, circuit boards and leds and little maker projects. It's programming adjacent (and you might end up doing some) but it's a lot of tinkering with parts and really absorbing. There are tons of inexpensive beginner kits on amazon. You could pair it with a raspberry pi or arduino, but there's a lot you can just do with some resistors and LEDs and integrated circuits. I was more or less in your boat (and a programmer by day), tried to get into several other things, and this is what stuck. It's possible that it won't be different enough from programming for you, but it's more physical, and a few levels of abstraction closer to Nature.
posted by condour75 at 2:11 PM on July 5

I started building dollhouses several years ago for just the reasons you suggest--craft-y, working with hands, and a lot of stop-and-start. You paint window frames, let them dry, then paint them again, let them dry, varnish them...etc. etc. etc. It's a nice way to spend a few spare minutes per day, and by the end you have something concrete to show for it.
posted by thomas j wise at 5:07 PM on July 5 [2 favorites]

(This thread is making me want to try crochet. Some of the freeform and hyperbolic designs look aesthetically pleasing to me in a way that crochet hasn't before.)

My fibre craft of choice is sewing, but that has a much larger footprint (in terms of both storage and working area) and requires a larger up-front investment (fabric, notions, sewing machine -- I would not recommend sewing large items by hand). Knitting and crochet just requires some metal/plastic sticks and balls of yarn, which you can pack into a bag.

However, if sewing sounds like a fun and useful thing to try to get into, I would suggest finding an inexpensive mechanical vintage machine (from your local classifieds, a repair shop, or for free from someone who knows someone whose granny's machine is still in the attic, etc.).

On a related note, vintage sewing machines are in and of themselves a hobby which is only sewing-adjacent, but unless you have a lot of room and want to start collecting and repairing them, it's a hobby which manifests mostly as gathering information on the internet, which sounds like not what you are looking for right now.
posted by confluency at 1:38 AM on July 6

MAGNET FISHING!!! It is fishing meets metal detecting.

All you need is some high strength rope ($5) and a high powered magnet (about $40) and some work gloves ($10). Then you go to the nearest body of water, preferably with a dock or bridge, and you bob the magnet along the bottom and see what you find.

Normally you find things like bottle caps, fish hooks, nails, etc. But sometimes you find cooler things. My last time out I found a bunch of bullets and a pair of scissors! The holy grail of the sport is to find a handgun, because then you have to call the cops and report it (though on second thought maybe outside of the USA bodies of water aren't full of weapons).

Magnet is my newest hobby and I am an enthusiastic evangelist. It is a quiet, contemplative activity. The goal is basically to have a chill time, maybe find something, and clean up your local body of water a bit.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 12:51 PM on July 9 [3 favorites]

I would say try a bunch of small projects and see what you like. I have a book called "how to be an explorer of the world" by Keri Smith that has fun, short assignments for observing the world around you. I like to do collage and mosaics and photography. I definitely have a short attention span. For exercise in the winter, I'm looking to get a small indoor cardio machine because it rains a lot here.
posted by DixieBaby at 7:01 AM on July 12

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