Hobby Horse

Posted: 1 November 2008 in observations

There is nothing bad about November.  An extra hour of sleep, my birthday, lots of cooking, family.  This never-ending election will be over.  November hasn’t got any of the religious implications of December or the unpredictable character of October.  I love summertime, but after several months of long days and humid nights, I look forward to shorter days and quick, cold sunsets.  No mosquitoes, fewer migraines, and those fun fall colors.  In fact, there isn’t even much stress this year – no traveling, new friends, and no life changes like last year.  Life is so perfect, in fact, that I need to get a hobby.

Yep.  Apparently I’ve been using stress (job applications, a master’s degree, moving, a new puppy, etc. etc etc.) as my personal hobby.  I’m impressively good at it.  But now there’s a jagged stress shaped hole in my evenings.  After all, there’s only so much internet surfing one person can do before their eyes fall out of their head.  While I’m taking suggestions, I think it’s only fair to let you know that I’ve already eliminated a large number of hobbies for various reasons.  So, before you loving give me details on how to macrame the perfect hanging garden basket, let me share what I’ve ruled out:

Needle arts.  Most of them.  I’ve cross stitched in my life (I think my mother still has a charming lilac towel with “home sweet home” weaving through the flowers).  I’ve stitched plastic coasters with yarn.  I’ve sewn shorts and sleepwear, almost all badly.  Once, my grandmother attempted to teach me to crochet.  I abandoned it in a bloody temper tantrum when we realized that right handers did not have the mad crochet skills to adequately teach left handers to use the deadly needles.  No to mention that pretty much anything with string is dog bait around here. 

Painting/Watercolors.  As much as I wish I had a smidge of talent, I’m really only fair at putting colors onto paper.  In the end, I’m more disappointed at the amateur cast than I ever had enjoyment doing it.

Clay.  Costly to fire and glaze properly, possibly involving interaction with other people.  Knick-knack generator.  You may not know this about me, but I am strongly anti-knick-knack.  If I could decorate a home, there would be nothing on any surface, nothing on any wall (or just one, very stark thing).  The idea of thousands of little pots, ashtrays, sculptures and so forth paralyzes me with knick-knack fear.

Scrapbooking.  Did you seriously have to ask?  Scrapbooking is like accumulating all of the knick-knacks in a flat, gingham edged format that sits on a shelf.  Perhaps if I had children. 

Having children.  Wait, you thought I’d make a good parent? 

Engaging in performance animal acts of any kind.  No, not that kind of performance animal act. 

Rug-hooking.  An excellent hobby for the under 14 set, the latch-hook rug still lingers as something that could be fluffy under my toes and thus avoid knick-knack status.  Unfortunately, the last rug I hooked was too large for my 12 year old ambitions and that scratchy, multi-colored monstrosity lay over my legs, making them sweat and itch for months before I abandoned the project, never to return.

Photography and photo editing still remain on the table.  I have boxes of photos from all over the world and I’m happy to discard any in which I didn’t quite get what I wanted, I don’t look as good as I thought I did, or there’s something stuck in someone’s teeth (in my case, this is mostly crocodiles.)  I doubt anyone is interested in looking at my photos, but I’d be delighted to have a digital trove of fantastic shots.

The other hobby that I’m still carefully turning over – never in the front of my thoughts, only quietly to the sides – is quilting.  Quilts don’t qualify as knick-knacks because they can be useful.  And, they’re soft and pretty.  You can give them as gifts and people (well, mostly my family) get all giddy with excitement.  But here’s what’s holding me back…perfectionism.  100% inherited from my mother, I can’t seem to get past the fact that any quilt I sewed would have to be sewn by hand, meticulously stitched together from start to finish.  I’m not beyond doing this.  I’m certain my stiches would be precise and tiny.  But I’m afraid it will consume my life.  Is there a halfway in this?  I’d be interested to know what you think.

So here we are, in November, a happy month, looking for a hobby.  In the meantime, join me in National Blog Posting Month.  See you tomorrow.

  1. hannah says:

    I’ve been quilting for the last year or so, and I’m with you on the frustration/goal of doing it by hand – all the quilts I inherited from my grandmother and great-grandmother are by hand, so why shouldn’t I do the same? Start with smaller quilting projects, like a potholder or trivet. Alternately, you can try cross stitching a design on a single, large piece of cloth and then quilting that one cloth to the batting. There’s no piecing together, but it’s still handmade and gorgeous. I have a beautiful quilt that’s nothing more than white cloth with a pink cross stitch flower bouquet on it.

    Did you see the Nebraska quilting exhibition at the Smithsonian last year? I got a lot of ideas from that. I’m currently working on a sunburst-ish pattern right now, composed entirely of ties that I’ve bought at Salvation Army and the like – narrow end inward, wide pointy end outwards. It’s interesting and not too difficult. Unfortunately, Saudi Arabia doesn’t leave me much energy for things like “fun” and “free time.”

  2. backlist says:

    hannah – those are great ideas. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one with the whole “hand sewing” issue. And when I think of Saudi – I think memorable but not…uh…fun…

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