Idle hands...
April 19, 2004 12:54 PM   Subscribe

Something to occupy my hands but not my eyes. [More inside]

I want to find a hobby that I can do without looking down at my hands frequently, so I'd be able to feel productive even when I'm watching tv. I've thought about knitting and crochet, but I don't know too much about either. Any suggestions?
posted by stoneegg21 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
One possiblity is to get an stationary bicycle or treadmill or similar exercise machine. Those can be noisy, so you should get some headphones (cordless or with a really long cord) or turn the TV way up.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 1:32 PM on April 19, 2004

Knitting is easy to learn, especially if you start with ye olde scarf. Your local library will have some good how-to books, even if you look in the kids' section, and there are tons of free patterns on the web..

Some aspects of quilting are fairly mindless, although the overall construction, eyes. But hemming is straightforward enough.

If you organised everything in advance you could try beadwork or jewellery-making. I don't know anything about either of these, though.
posted by tracicle at 1:37 PM on April 19, 2004

If you want to do something _good_, you could knit bandages... Basically, though, folks like the RED CROSS (among other humanitarian groups) need specialized bandages for burn victims and the like... and they rely mostly on individuals to knit them.

If you're interested, I can look up the instructions... they're super easy, and there will certainly be no shortage of need.

I know of entire families that knit them (one lady here in town knits while waiting in line at my grocery store... and a local highschool football team learned how to do it as part of their community work).
posted by silusGROK at 1:53 PM on April 19, 2004

Well, you probably won't find much reason to do it, unless you're taking a class in ASL (American Sign Language), but during my studies, I found a certain compulsion for practicing my fingerspelling. Just idly spelling any words that I saw or heard, was a great way to practice the complex art of quickly fingerspelling words. FS is a very small part of learning to commnicate in sign, to be sure, but it *is* a good way to occupy your hands. (Plus, I think learning ASL is one of the coolest things in the world, and I would encourage anyone to give it a try.)
posted by Eldritch at 1:59 PM on April 19, 2004

Knitting and crocheting are both good candidates, though knitting more so than crocheting, and both only once you've actually learned the skill.

Crocheting is done with a small hook, which you insert through the correct place in the existing fabric and pull loops through and close them off. Inserting into the correct place requires a certain amount of looking. I can crochet without looking, but I generally get about 5% of the stitches slightly misformed when I do. On the other hand, because there's only ever one loop at a time, you don't have the problem with losing track of your stitches or dropping them, as you do with knitting.

Knitting is done with two longer needles, and all of your loops for a single row are on the needles and active at any one time. Unlike crocheting, where you have to know where to insert your needle next, in knitting, there's no real choice. You insert your needle into the next stitch in the line. This makes it easier to do without looking.

Once you get into the habit of forming your stitches properly, you'll very quickly be able to knit while glancing down only every few stitches. At this point, you can probably follow a reasonably non-complicated television show. Eventually, you'll learn to knit entire rows of basic stitches and very simple patterns without looking, and only worry about it when you reach the end of the row.

At the point when you can turn around and knit back again without looking at the end of the rows, television will have become something that you do to keep in touch with the world while you knit, and none of this will matter anymore.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:17 PM on April 19, 2004

Take up wankery.

I made a Dr. Who length scarf years ago, but was never able to Master (special bonus nerd joke, ha!) not looking at what I was doing. But then, I'm a klutz.
posted by Capn at 2:18 PM on April 19, 2004

You could also consider a hobby that has a large amount of mindless preparation prior to starting the project in earnest (which then might require some eye work) - anything that requires some simple sorting or non-delicate task.

For example, I'll sort, sand, and prime some of my custom action figure parts while watching movies. Or I'll rip paper for paper mache. Or cut down old clothes for use as scraps in other projects. That sort of thing.
posted by Sangre Azul at 2:51 PM on April 19, 2004

I have a minitv that I keep on my computer desk most of the time. I watch tv while posting here. And Metafilter most assuredly is a hobby. ;-)
posted by konolia at 2:53 PM on April 19, 2004

Yoga stretches. Free weights.
posted by philfromhavelock at 7:56 PM on April 19, 2004

Knitting is good if you have PTSD.
posted by cbrody at 9:51 PM on April 19, 2004

Personally, I like crochet, but that's as much because not 'everyone' does it. Not that I've done it in years, since first learning. But yea, hard not to look at your work.
posted by Goofyy at 12:07 AM on April 20, 2004

Knitting is done with two longer needles

Many people find that working on a circular needle is easier. I don't have to look down at my work too much -it depends on the pattern- but there's plenty of projects that you can just steam away on without looking once you get the hang of knitting.

Another benefit to working on circs is that you can get quite far by making tubes, which means that you don't have to deal with the back-and-forth of making a flat piece of fabric, and you can make a whole sweater without having to sew any seams.
posted by mimi at 10:05 AM on April 20, 2004

I'm an avid knitter, but it does take awhile to become proficient enough to not have to look at your hands.

Have you thought about rug hooking? It's the simplest and cheapest handcraft I can think of.

There are kits, and you might want to use a kit for your first project, but their designs tend to be kind of hokey.

It's really easy to make your own "kit". You can get a large piece of canvas for a couple of dollars, and a latch-hook for the same amount. You can hook with wool or rags. I sew a lot, so I have lots of scrap material, but I also use old clothes.

If using material, cut it into long, inch-wide strips. Hold the strip underneath the canvas. Poke the hook through the canvas and pull a loop up through the hole. Repeat in the next hole, and so on.

You can make your own designs by sketching in pencil on the canvas. For inspiration, check with your local library or sites like this one. If you've never heard of this craft, you'll be amazed at the beautiful, painterly rugs created this way, and they can be used either as wall hangings or as lovely cushy rugs.
posted by orange swan at 11:25 AM on April 20, 2004 [2 favorites]

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