I'm boooooorrred!
August 28, 2007 7:21 AM   Subscribe

Random strangers of the internet, please recommend a hobby to me.

I've realised I need a hobby, but I have little-to-no idea what sort of things I could do.

I enjoy creating something. I enjoy learning how to create something, the whys and wherefores. I enjoy photography, because I can "capture" the beauty in something, and keep it. I enjoy writing programmes, specifically in AutoIt. I enjoy fixing computers/other things. I enjoy learning how/why things work the way they do. I did a stint working with an environmental charity (doing things like cutting down trees, messing about in ponds and lighting fires) which was great fun.

Things I don't enjoy - spending money, leaving the house, talking to/dealing with "strangers" (I think I'd quite enjoy being a counsellor).

Things I've thought of so far - knitting, auto repair, gardening, learning a new language, becoming a photographer. I'm looking for something where I can learn a] what it is, the "essence" of it (?) b] how to create it and c] actually create it.

Any ideas?
posted by Solomon to Grab Bag (38 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Have you considered trying out something like Flash?

Since you seem pretty tech savvy, I bet you could pick it up with the help of a few tutorials and/or books. It's pretty endless and should engage you for a while. With Flash, you can create, capture, and stay away from strangers. A free 30-day trial is available from Adobe's website.
posted by milarepa at 7:30 AM on August 28, 2007

Best answer: If nothing else, it sounds like you should start a photo blog to encourage yourself to grow as a photographer. If you know other photographers, invite them to contribute.

This may sound boring to you, but taking up a meditation practice could do wonders for the rest of whatever you do. Start with twenty minutes a day and then when you're comfortable advance to 20 in the morning and 20 in the evening. There is a lot to learn and figure out about methods of meditation and what works best for you. It fits your requirements of spending no money, staying indoors, and avoiding strangers. Email me if you'd like some interesting links to check out.
posted by hermitosis at 7:36 AM on August 28, 2007

I was going to suggest knitting. Once you understand what is going on with the actual knitting you can design and knit all sorts of stuff. See Knitty.com for examples. It also isn't hard to teach yourself, and you can get everything you need from the internet, so you don't have to leave home! But you can -- there's bound to be a decent knit shop near you where you can go and find great people who like to teach others to knit. So either way. Highly recommended.
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:57 AM on August 28, 2007

I am a knitter, and enjoy it for the reasons you mention. The nice thing about knitting is that it has facets - you can either be just a knit/purl knitter who does just straight projects (scarves, dishcloths) or you can become a complex and varied knitter. (Nothing wrong with being anywhere on that spectrum.) I like being able to understand the hows and whys of what I'm doing, and how to change it if need be.

Advanced knitting can involve complicated math, pattern creation or alteration and if you really want to get into it, you can spin your own yarn, or dye it. Sometimes I sit and marvel at my completed projects and think "I did that with two sticks and some yarn." There is an incredibly strong online knitting community, as well as online tutorials, and you can do much of your shopping online. I can be extremely crowd/people adverse, but I will brave humanity once in awhile to go touch yarn and see what it feels like - but other than that, you can have as little or as much "stranger" interaction as you want.

Knitting _can_ be expensive, if you let it be. That's one of the reasons I'll never sell what I knit - people don't generally understand the price of yarn + the price of my time. But deals can be found as well. Don't let the yarn snobs scare you off.
posted by librarianamy at 7:58 AM on August 28, 2007

i often wish i was a different kind of person entirely and had the patience, dedication, and focus to be able to make nice furniture.

if you did that with reclaimed materials, that might satisfy both your fix-it and environmental joneses. just an idea.
posted by blapst at 8:00 AM on August 28, 2007

computer generated art with processing
posted by andrew cooke at 8:01 AM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

"Things I don't enjoy - spending money, leaving the house, talking to/dealing with "strangers""

Yeah, expand your limits that would be a nice hobby. I suggest learning (ballroom) dancing.
posted by homodigitalis at 8:08 AM on August 28, 2007

I paint lead soldiers. Every so often I go buck-wild crazy and buy stuff for games featuring lil soldiers, but never actually want to play the game. My most recent splurge (pics in profile) was pretty big, but already the realization that I'll never get to (nor do I really yearn to) play is sinking in.

So I'm trying to reign myself in by buying soldiers in order to reproduce famous battles. I have some plans for a diorama of the Hougoumont where the opening stages of the Battle of Waterloo occurred. Other plans include a model WWI trench system and a French Revolution guillotine scene.

Doing this I learn not only a lot about painting (brushes, colors, blending, techniques, etc) but about the time period itself. The product is easy to show off or even donate, if you pick something that would be of interest to local small museums.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:10 AM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Grow some plants. It's an amazing, amazing world that--for me--was something I had neglected far too long. It's a hobby that rewards patience and deliberate thinking, but also allows for experimentation.
posted by dead_ at 8:11 AM on August 28, 2007

I third knitting. I like a lot of the things you mentioned and I love knitting. There's an endless amount to learn about how different fibers and yarns behave, quite apart from the endless different techniques. The online knitting community is nothing short of amazing to me. You will probably find all kinds of outlets for your tech skills too.
posted by bluebird at 8:13 AM on August 28, 2007

If you like to build things then I’d recommend, for starters, you subscribe to Make Magazine. Each (quarterly) issue is filled with neat things to build or ways to hack other things. Some of their projects are a little silly/impractical/stupid/stuff-nobody-in-his-right-mind-would-actually-build (build a wind-up tea cozy out of an old sleeping bag and a blender!) but are inspiring none-the-less and might lead to other project ideas.

Their projects include a wide range of skills, from electronics, to woodworking, metalworking, knitting, papercraft, whatever.
posted by bondcliff at 8:14 AM on August 28, 2007

So I'm trying to reign myself in by buying soldiers in order to reproduce famous battles. I have some plans for a diorama of the Hougoumont where the opening stages of the Battle of Waterloo occurred. Other plans include a model WWI trench system and a French Revolution guillotine scene.
Can I just say that this might be the awesomest hobby ever?

I'm another knitter. Some people take to knitting, and some people don't. I would give it a whirl and see if it appeals to you. A lot of people seem to enjoy knitting socks, which are small and fairly quick but which can be pretty complex, if you decide to do complicated things with them.

What about cooking or baking? There are a lot of good books and T.V. shows that take an analytic, scientific approach to cooking. Cooking is really one of those things that's both an art and a science. And at the end of it all, there's yummy food to eat. The only problem is that you may be forced to interact with other people, since you probably are going to want to off-load some of your food on someone else.
posted by craichead at 8:20 AM on August 28, 2007

Best answer: Have you considered origami?
posted by grateful at 8:26 AM on August 28, 2007

Get a Flickr account and make it a habit to post at least one new picture a day. It's very good practice, and you will end up with interesting shots you had never thought of. I force myself to go photo taking every day or so, I take a whole plethora of shots, and some of my favorites are ones I didn't think would turn out well.
posted by Meagan at 8:30 AM on August 28, 2007

Yet another knitter and crocheter! Many wonderful things to be said about these two activities. You work with beautiful colours and textures, and come up with a personal expression- and (usually) a functional item! They're really great to do while you're, say, travelling, or waiting. It's a great way to meet people as well- if I see people knitting/crocheting, I usually approach them and ask them about their project- then we discuss yarn, technique, etc.

You might also enjoy making jewellery- wire or doing silver/goldsmithing. That can also lead you to lapidary or enameling, which are amazing!

That said, these can be expensive hobbies!
posted by solongxenon at 8:33 AM on August 28, 2007

Take up sewing. You can work on a machine or with just needle or thread. The library has tons of books available or you can hop on over to vintagesewing.info for free early 20th century texts. You can get an alright sewing machine new from Target or Overstock or check craigslist for vintage, sub-$100 workhorses. A lot of the pre-1970s sewing machines can be a source of DIY-repair fun.

For fabric, you can use sheets from the thrift store (and some thrift stores sell fabric) or just use clothes you've outgrown. Sewing isn't limited to clothes -- you can make bags, home accessories, book covers. Check out ASG.org -- right now they have a huge charitable sewing project for women who have just had mastectomies.
posted by whitneykitty at 8:42 AM on August 28, 2007

Recently I have had a strange desire to learn how to draw caricatures. It seems like it fits most of your criteria (you can avoid people by drawing pictures of celebrities or something).
posted by boreddusty at 8:45 AM on August 28, 2007

Build a CNC machine - involves building a mechnical device that is controlled by a computer and the completed machine involves making more things. Many people extensively document the building process with photos.
posted by probablysteve at 8:48 AM on August 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Building models of things, from scratch or a kit. I'm currently constructing a scale model ancient roman house - there is a smallish outlay for balsa wood and paint, but it's quite cheap. I've poked around on the internet for floor plans and pictures for color schemes of various rooms, which I takes bits of and add some stuff of my own (it's meant to be fun, not absolutely historically accurate).
posted by frobozz at 8:49 AM on August 28, 2007

Woodworking, car repair, painting. Make and paint cool furniture. sell it for lots of money. Same deal with fine jewelry-making. Check out your local Adult Ed. program. they always have classes on different stuff.
posted by theora55 at 8:51 AM on August 28, 2007

Homebrew. Make your own equipment (mash-lauter-tun, grain mill, kegerator, etc). It's a fantastic hobby and easy to get into and go crazy with. Plus you get to make beer.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 9:01 AM on August 28, 2007

pick an instrument and set your goal to learn one song. There really are few things more rewarding in life than playing an instrument.
posted by any major dude at 9:12 AM on August 28, 2007

AutoIt, you say? Don't like leaving the house? You sound like me. I've programmed a ton of apps in AutoIt.. in fact it was a good springboard for me to then pickup PHP.

I've always felt I have a creative streak that needs to be fulfilled but I can't draw or paint - programming has really filled that void. My day job is programming. When I'm done with my day job I switch over to programming my pet projects. And I'm only slightly ashamed to admit it. :-)

If you want to program: Think of something that doesn't exist or something you might want to 'automate'. For instance, I am a livejournal user and like to view the 'latest images feed' - I also like the silly/weird animated GIFs that pop up on LJ and other websites from time to time. I created a program in autoit that monitors the image feed, parses every image to determine if the images are animated, and then posts them to my website.

Since I got pretty good at autoit, I decided I also wanted to learn PHP - I now have a website, written in PHP (CakePHP, actually), which is a showcase for all the images my autoit program picks up.

I have a bunch of other php projects I want to work on which I hope to then monetize via ads.. so I guess my point is, if you want to get into the (web) programming arena, you can have fun while making a bit of money on the side, and you're expanding your programming knowledge at the same time. The hard part is coming up with a website concept.
posted by MarkLark at 9:26 AM on August 28, 2007

seconding homebrewing
posted by phil at 9:34 AM on August 28, 2007

if you find yourself feeling overconfident, take up the violin. You will never lack for frequent moments of deep humility.
posted by vilcxjo_BLANKA at 9:35 AM on August 28, 2007

extreme macro or even microscope photography. alternatively, astro-photography
posted by Large Marge at 10:16 AM on August 28, 2007

Learn to play an instrument, and, ultimately, write music.

Once you've learned enough, there's very much an "essence" to most pop songs you listen to that you can understand. Basic music theory, chord structure, I-IV-V progressions, etc.

It totally gives you new insight into music, and you may be surprised when you find that you can write something that doesn't sound half bad.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 10:49 AM on August 28, 2007

And yet another (devoted, lifelong) knitter here. Can't recommend that enough. Also: sewing. I'm learning how right now -- have just bought a cheapo sewing machine on eBay and am getting acquainted with it. The machinery is kinda fascinating, and it's cool to see how fabric comes together to make various shapes.
posted by GrammarMoses at 11:48 AM on August 28, 2007

you like programming and want to create something?

try max/msp . it's programming + making music.
posted by knowles at 12:10 PM on August 28, 2007 [3 favorites]

Since you like photography why not consider video? You can start cheap and work your way up in hardware and software as your skills improve. It's amazing what can be created with simple tools today.
posted by trinity8-director at 2:08 PM on August 28, 2007

You could learn to crochet a hyperbolic plane
then turn it into a a hyperbolic reef
Shadow/Illusion knitting might interest you if you decide to go with knitting.
You could Learn to tie knots
This little downloadable, paper dragon illusion is fun.
Also Go poke around at Instructables
posted by BoscosMom at 2:17 PM on August 28, 2007

You (and others) have mentioned knitting already, but I just wanted to make sure you realize it's not only about ski sweaters, tea cozies, and dishcloths anymore (admittedly, I derive a lot of satisfaction from knitting dishcloths)...

Recycled Plastic Carryall

revolutionary sweaters

Dave Cole: The Knitting Machine

Blood Scarf (please do not try this at home)

While I'm not the most creative knitter out there, I agree with what others have said about it being a fascinating process. It's really absorbing to be able to take a piece of yarn (wire, plastic, iv tubing...) and control its shape and texture into something totally different. I love that something so simple can be used to create things that are simple or complex, utilitarian or frivolous, etc. From Peruvian men who knit intricate designs using bike spokes as needles to Dave Cole using excavators to knit a huge flag, knitting is the ultimate in potential for creativity and getting a sense of satisfaction through figuring things out.

What about woodworking? My brother made a shelf when he lived in an apartment - he used handtools, and worked out on his deck. You could start with something even smaller if space/money are issues. Watching my parents build our house when I was a kid (and knowing that my grandpa was a carpenter), I've always been fascinated by how empowering it is to be able to build things.

You said you're already into photography - keep at it! Read about it, look at the photography of others, and maybe try new formats. Learn how to develop film, or make a pinhole camera. Personally, I'm itching to get into instant photography - there's something about Polaroids that is too much to resist.

Finally, what about cooking? You have to eat anyway, and I found that reading about cooking, and learning about interactions between heat, specific ingredients, etc. has been really interesting. I started by getting some books on cooking from my library, did some reading, and went from there. There are entire worlds you could explore just within cooking alone.

Create a short documentary? Make your own zine? Learn to repair bikes? Build a crystal radio?

Have fun!
posted by splendid animal at 2:22 PM on August 28, 2007

BookCrossing! It might - gasp - get you out of the house a bit... but it's fine for shy people etc. You don't have to spend much money - I get books donated to me from charity shops and via Freecycle and make my own labels and postits. Share the karma of good books!
posted by LyzzyBee at 2:28 PM on August 28, 2007

Learn to blow glass, or make stained glass?
posted by Jacen at 4:23 PM on August 28, 2007

Build your own kites, and then go fly them.

Put together an aquarium. For a real challenge, make it a saltwater setup, and put a live reef in there.


Build model cars.

Build a bicycle. Spread the cost and the fun by purchasing one part each week/month. (Should be less expensive than working on cars anyway)

Geocaching (though, this one necessarily requires leaving the house)

posted by jknecht at 8:29 PM on August 28, 2007

If you have any outside space, beekeeping is an awesome, mostly solitary hobby. There's lots of building, wood working, candle making, and honey processing to keep you busy indoors, and the thrill of communing with nature on a very small scale outdoors.
posted by roofus at 2:12 AM on August 29, 2007

Best answer: My personal favorite is growing stuff and photographing it, with very limited budget and a lot of DIY. It involves everything you want to do.

For example, this was my last cycle:

Grow gourmet mushrooms with very little expense. This implied a lot of research, tissue collection, cloning, building an automated humidified terrarium, growing the mushrooms, researching mushroom cuisine and finally cooking and eating. I had to learn some chemistry and even build a couple of electronic projects. Photographing the whole process was the second best part.

Then I turned the terrarium into an aquarium, and moved to low budget planted aquariums, which required a lot more biology, and DIY lighting, CO2 generator (yeast biology!), filters and substrate. Selling cuttings from my best plants recouped the whole cost. Again, photographing is half the fun (search for the AGA planted aquarium photography competition). This took me to freshwater shrimp breeding.

Now, I breed Bettas and am trying to breed some dwarf catfish. Two days ago I just started a carnivorous plant terrarium (I am becoming an expert on compact fluorescent light bulbs right now). I want to automate the whole setup, so now I am learning how to program and use microcontrollers.

This kind of hobbies have the advantage that your stuff actually multiplies, and you can sell or trade to prevent the hobby from becoming a money drain. And when the apocalypse comes, you will be able to grow a lot of edible stuff.

If you are interested in any of the hobbies I mentioned, I can hook you up with cuttings / tissue / breeding pairs.
posted by Dataphage at 2:18 AM on August 29, 2007 [2 favorites]

I second this suggestion.
posted by Crumpled Farm at 3:57 PM on October 4, 2007

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