Help me choose a hobby?
April 14, 2008 5:32 AM   Subscribe

Help me choose a hobby?

I'm a creative type looking for a hobby and would be very grateful for any suggestions you can give me :) Ideally I'm looking for a hobby which is:

Let's say $10 a week or less for costs / materials.

For example - "sewing softies" rather than just "sewing", or "playing X instrument because it's great fun and you can take it anywhere" rather than "play an instrument".

Can be picked up and put down whenever

Able to be done at home
Although I'd also welcome suggestions for hobbies which have an away-from-home component, such as taking photos on a bushwalk and then editing the photos at home).

I'd also love to know what YOU do for a hobby and why you enjoy it!

Thank you in advance for any and all ideas - there's no such thing as too conservative or too whacky - if you have a hobby you like or a suggestion for one I might like I would love to hear it :)!
posted by katala to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (23 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Golf is my hobby. I love it. The game is both challenging and frustrating at the same time. The challenge is to constantly endeavor to better yourself and to develop the perfect, consistent swing. The frustration is knowing that no matter how much you practice and how hard you try, that perfect swing is fleeting.

But when you have one of those days when your swing is working really well, the ball is flying straight and true, putts are dropping left and right, it's like being in a groove. I also like golf because it's an outdoors hobby and you even get some exercise. It isn't like running a marathon, but you usually walk 6-7 miles during an 18 hole round. You are also out on a lovely piece of property with lush green grass, flowers, trees and wildlife.

Golf may not meet your criteria of $10/week, but you asked what I do for a hobby. Once you have your own clubs, most communities have an inexpensive public golf course that may be affordable at say $15-20/week if you get a season pass. Give golf a try. You'll either love it, or hate it.
posted by netbros at 5:46 AM on April 14, 2008

Best answer: Play guitar! One-time cost of 100$ for a beginner one. This gets recommended on MeFi all the time so I thought I'd throw that in.

Less specific: Learn a programming language. Write a book. Make a list of books you want to read and read it. Learn how to make bracelets (hemp, friendship, bead, etc. .. it's more complicated than it looks). Learn how to fold Origami well. Learn how to cut Kirigami well. Learn how to knit and set yourself a project with a deadline. Learn how to sew period costumes and join the Society for Creative Anachronisms. Go to a Ren Faire or two with your newly sewn costumes. Learn how to scrapbook. Learn a new language using Pimsleur or some other such self-teach course.

As for myself, I enjoy a fairly standard array of hobbies (reading, writing, drawing, playing guitar, listening to music) because those actions relax me and I don't have a lot of time to spare in a hectic academic schedule. It's hard to get specific with those five because they depend so much on personal taste - I could tell you to learn how to draw, but there are so many things you could focus on. Either way, hope that helps?
posted by Phire at 5:49 AM on April 14, 2008

I suspect others could provide better answers if you explained a bit more about yourself, your likes and dislikes, etc. But, going on absolutely nothing, here are two ideas that meet your goals, I think. Both of these involve some initial outlay of cash but don't have much (if any) recurring cost.

1) Learn to play guitar. Take a friend who already plays with you to a music store or a pawn shop and find a steel-string acoustic guitar that is cheap but playable. Pick up a cheap electronic tuner (the QuickTune ones are good), a chord book, a method book/video, a dozen picks, and a strap while you're there. Your initial investment will be a few hundred bucks, but your weekly costs will be nil.

2) Buy a point-and-shoot digital still camera and a Flickr Pro account. Take pictures of whatever interests you (buildings, cats, landscapes, old cars) and publish them for the world to see.
posted by wheat at 6:01 AM on April 14, 2008

I am a huge fan of crocheting bags. I'm currently in love with making wool bags and then felting them, but I also made a string bag to take to the market. You can also make bags or totes out of the crap plastic bags you probably already have a zillion of already. I'm about to make one that looks kind of like this one.

Price: Same as with probably any hobby, there will be an upfront outlay of a bit of cash, but not much. Crochet hooks go as cheap as ~$1.50 per, and wool for ~$5-7 a skein. The cotton I use to make string bags is even cheaper at ~$2 per skein. It's a smaller amount of yarn, yardage-wise, but you also need less of it for a market bag. And plastic bags are free. There's no way you will make a bag in a week, unless that's all you do in your spare time.

Here's a list of free patterns, and here's a guide to basic stitches.

Knitting is likely more popular than crochet right now, because crochet has a bit of a grandma vibe to it. I find it a lot easier to do, though, because when I try to knit I bobble all over the place.
posted by Stewriffic at 6:03 AM on April 14, 2008 [3 favorites]

Start doing papercraft. All you need is a bubble jet printer, thick paper, scissors and glue.
posted by PowerCat at 6:11 AM on April 14, 2008

Best answer: crochet! i, too, love crochet and find i'm better at it than knitting. while i do various crochet projects, i mostly do granny squares. i've got about half a blanket. they're convenient to carry, they're small enough that you can do one in part of an evening and have the thrill of a completed *thing*.

i've also done hats and mug cozies. and i'm messing about with tapestry crochet.

i'll post links for the above in a little while -- i'm suddenly rushed.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:19 AM on April 14, 2008

I forgot to include a link to felting instructions.

(just promise me you won't make this bag.)
posted by Stewriffic at 6:20 AM on April 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you're looking to only spend $10 a week I think hobbies that take a small initial investment, but pass a lot of time would be ideal. Lots and lots of satisfying crafts fall into that range.

Linoleum block printing
Initial investment: block, carving tools, ink, roller; Dick Blick sells a starter kit for $21
Why it is good: Block carving takes as much time as you put into it. Designs can be simple or complex, one color or many. The results will look much like a wood block print, but block will be much easier to carve. You can also make your own rubber stamps by carving sheets of soft-kut.

Embroidery Portraits
Initial investment: embroidery thread, webbing and a hoop (all can be had for much less than $10 at your local craft store)
Why it is good: Embroidery doesn't have to be all about ducks and flowers and 'Bless this Mess'; it can be a legitimate art form. Jenny Hart's portrait work is a good example of this.

Handbag Making
Initial investment: fabric (lining & outside), thread, fasteners (optional), straps (optional)
Why it is good: Sometimes it can be tough to find a good bag that fits your needs exactly. Why not make one that does. There are lots of free tutorials online about making messenger bags and handbags. You can take your time customizing a bag to your needs, and not for much money. The beauty of handbags is that most don't require more than half a yard of fabric, this means that you'll be able to get deals by perusing the remnant bin at the fabric store.
posted by Alison at 6:24 AM on April 14, 2008 [4 favorites]

Photography is a great creative outlet. If you go this way I would start with a couple of books on composition.
posted by caddis at 6:32 AM on April 14, 2008

Should be jumping in the shower, but I had to add my 2 cents: birding!

One-time cost: US$100-200 for decent binoculars (you can easily spend more, but don't spend less than 100 bucks, and get 8x40/42 or 10x42 binos). After that, as free or expensive as you like.

I gather you live in Australia ("bushwalk"), where you have amazing birds.

We (my partner and I) started with raptors, which are big and easy to see and relatively easy to identify. We can now ID other stuff, but our primary interest remains with hawks. We started volunteering for an org that counts and IDs migrating raptors, and we knew almost nothing when we started, and now we know truckloads more.

You can do it anywhere there are birds, which is nearly everywhere. Don't know exactly where you are, but even here in heavily urban San Francisco, I can step out on my back porch and have a very decent chance of seeing redtails, peregrines, cooper's hawks, and sharp-shinned hawks.

For me, it's a very be-here-now activity. When I'm birding, I'm not doing or thinking about anything else. It's both mentally relaxing and challenging in a way I've never experienced with another activity. It can be a solo thing - just you and your binos and a field guide - or you can go on walks with your local birding organization; here, walks are usually pretty cheap, $10 or so, and whoever's leading can help ID the birds you're seeing, and will talk about habits and behavior and so on.
posted by rtha at 6:38 AM on April 14, 2008 [2 favorites]

I second birding. You can do it at home, with feeders set up close to the windows. It's extremely relaxing, too. Initial outlay is for a good bird book for you, specific to your area/region, birdfeeders, and seed. If you like it, then you can get some binoculars.
posted by Stewriffic at 6:58 AM on April 14, 2008

Writing would qualify; it costs nothing and can be very rewarding. Your outlets are innumerable; slam poetry, novels, fanfic, limericks, whatever you'd like.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:05 AM on April 14, 2008

Knitting, for all of the reasons specified above for crochet. I'm biased, but I think knitting is more versatile and doesn't look "that certain way" in the way that crochet does, but there are great crochet pieces and pieces that only work with crochet, just as there are knit pieces that are useless and fuglier than sin. For my money, though, there's way more variety and patterns that I like available in knitting than crochet. And who's to say you can't do both?

I like to have a few patterns going at once. I've been doing a boring stockinette ("regular knitting") thing for various sweater pieces, but I'm just about to finish that. Parts of that sweater have been alternately easy to take with me and not so easy (too big, requires light to see the pattern in a dark movie theater, whatever). In between the boring bits, I like to make my brain work more with some lace, so I do shawls and have worked on a couple of doilies. I am NOT an old-fashioned person in either my decorating or dress, but I've learned to pick patterns that I love and recipients that I know will love them if it's the pattern that interests me more than the finished outcome.

It can be a very cheap or very expensive habit, but it's cheap to get started. You can even unravel old sweaters for their yarn -- great recycling at Goodwill!

It's also very forgiving. You can fix your mistakes in most circumstances, and I've found it very meditative when I muster up my gumption to finish a project or repair a big mess.

Overall, it's great for all situations. I do it when I'm sad, happy, home, away, alone, in a group, by itself or while I'm doing three other things. Petting yarn makes me feel good, and I love being part of the tradition.
posted by Madamina at 8:06 AM on April 14, 2008

Cooking is a great hobby. It's creative, it enlivens the senses and nourishes the body, it can be meditative or social, it's something you've gotta do anyway... I like the mediterranean approach of filling your fridge with a variety of finger foods that can be grazed upon of combined into meals at any time. It gives cooking a more even pace than the 1-big-meal-per-day extravaganza. Tonight maybe you make hummous. Tomorrow, maybe all you do is bring home some delicious apples. Next day you bake some chicken in almonds. Sunday you take some time and wrap dolmas. Monday you just eat! Tuesday you pick up some wonderful lavash at the bakery. Keep olives, good bread, cheeses, hummous, pesto, fresh fruit around and you're halfway there. The great thing is that you can feed several people and everyone can pick and choose what they want. On the go? Toss a few of your tupperwares and some bananas in a bag and go have a picnic.

Prepping lots of little dishes is a bit more time flexible than one big meal per day, but cooking can't be picked up / put down as easily as knitting. And it's arguable that any sort of cooking interesting enough to be a hobby could add cost to your food budget (especially if you're on a subsitstence budget of beans/rice, etc).
posted by scarabic at 8:16 AM on April 14, 2008

Best answer: Create miniature gardens and then transplant them whole to the real world, guerrilla-style, on forgotten bits of business or government property. Start with a window box (or more if you have some land), some soil, and some seeds. Choose perennials, not annuals, so they'll keep coming back every year, and make sure they're plants that are good and natural for your environment, not invaders from another continent. Sow and grow. When they're big enough, sneak them out somewhere that needs them and carefully transplant them into the earth. Start again.

And "sneak them out" could instead mean openly and happily giving them to neighbors who are uninterested in gardening but who open to having a garden or who are too busy or old or sick or poor to garden. Find someone within walking distance (good exercise!) who has some unused bit of land (or an empty window box) and ask if you can grow some plants there and look in on them now and then. Find a school or retirement home with some space that needs plants. You might turn some of your neighbors into gardeners.

Let me know where you are and I'll try to help you figure out what to plant.
posted by pracowity at 8:58 AM on April 14, 2008

Best answer: I'm another voting for knitting. If you want to be more specific, try sock knitting.

The initial outlay is low--you can pick up a set of needles for under $15, and a ball of sock yarn for about the same.

Knitting is great--it's meditative, it's portable, you can watch television if you want, you can talk on the phone while you do it, and it can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be. Plus, hand-knit socks fit better than anything you'll ever buy, and they make great gifts.

If you decide to go the sock-knitting route, I'd suggest a basic toe-up sock to start. You'll have vast stretches of stockinette (just knitting, nothing else) to get used to it, and then you can make the leg all fancy, if you want.
posted by meghanmiller at 9:20 AM on April 14, 2008

Thirding birding. Decent small pair of binoculars + good field guide = constant entertainment. Throw in a couple of feeders and/or nesting boxes and you've got out-the-window entertainment all year 'round.
posted by jquinby at 9:20 AM on April 14, 2008

Seconding reading and cooking. If you use the local library and used book stores, reading can be a very cheap hobby (finding something you want to read is part of the fun). Reading can be done purely as escapist entertainment, as part of a lifelong study of topics that interest you, or any point in between. Cooking can get to be expensive, but it doesn't start off that way. While you might spend a bit more on ingredients, cookbooks, or the occasional gadget, you don't have to break the bank. Even if you do eventually spend some money, I've found that decent cooking gear is a continual source of pleasure.
posted by wheat at 9:45 AM on April 14, 2008

Best answer: If you write physics equations in the margins of your sketchbook in art class then maybe physics is your hobby.

I believe that hobby is romance, not arranged marriage. It is something you love and doing it feels like play.

Pick one of the things you love doing or feel attracted to doing. Try it out for a week, see if it charges you with enthusiasm.

Avoid "buying into" activities. If the activity requires a specific item, borrow it. Photography? Everybody has a digital camera -- borrow one for a week. Buy a guitar and if you don't play return it in two weeks. Observe yourself and see if you actually USE your new toy -- if you actually PLAY.

If you buy and settle with an item or tools, your exploration is pretty much over. I believe that exploring the activities that you feel affinity with is the most important step. Go to a bookstore and wonder around. What books do you pick? What films do you like? Friendship or comedy or romance or war/competition? Or maybe sci-fi/magic?

Give yourself time and acknowledge the preferences you already have. Then pick the one you feel most excited about, the one that gives you satisfaction and all aspects of it feel like play.

Work is marriage, hobby is an affair. Follow your heart and hormones and I promise the sex will be great.
posted by andreinla at 11:04 AM on April 14, 2008 [2 favorites]

I'd say BookCrossing as people have said Birding and that's not crafty. Just need some books and a pen and some postits really! You can put in and get out of it what you want - I have met a whole bunch of brilliant people (and sort of learned to knit), get to chat about books, get great recommendations... and there is what I would term the creative aspect of it - sneaking books out into the wild and seeing where they go next!

Good luck with whatever you decide to do!
posted by LyzzyBee at 12:13 PM on April 14, 2008

Best answer: Sort of similar to papercraft is papercutting (aka Scherenschnitt). This can be very traditional or more modern. Etsy has lots of neat examples. You can make your own patterns or buy them, but the ones I've found to buy are the more traditional kind.

I'm not great at this, yet, but find it's very easy to pick up and put down. It helps me to slow down and focus on the moment and making that perfect cut.

Other things I do: write (not nearly enough -- I'm pretty rusty), knit, crochet, make journals (though I don't think that's something that's easily done in small bits of time), make mixed-media collages, and take/edit photos. All of this has been pushed to the back burner now that I'm back in school; thanks for reminding me that I need to take care of my creative side as well! will also provide lots of inspiration. Don't blame me, though, when you find it sucking up all your free time.
posted by runningwithscissors at 1:00 PM on April 14, 2008

How about Japanese/Chinese calligraphy? Low starting costs (a trip to the art store for a brush, some ink, and paper), and it's a very relaxing and rewarding art form. From there you could also branch out to Chinese-style watercolor painting too.
posted by kosher_jenny at 7:26 PM on April 14, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you for the many wonderful responses!! I've found some really great ideas here and am looking forward to trying them :)
posted by katala at 3:22 PM on April 15, 2008

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