10 hobbies to try while you're stuck at home
Break out those old knitting needles and get to work
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Unless you’re an essential worker (in which case, we all love you and will never be able to properly express our gratitude), you should be at home and practicing social distancing to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). This means you’re spending far more time at home than you’re probably used to, and as a result, looking for ways to stay entertained.
Times are stressful, but one of the best ways to get through it is to have some fun, relax, and start a new hobby. We aren’t telling you to be productive or try to start a side hustle. Take the opportunity to try a new pastime, not a new venture.
In case you don’t have a big list of hobbies you’ve been dying to try, here are some ones that you could get started on right now.
1. Get into baking bread
Baking is wonderful. Because you followed some of my previous advice, you already have a stand mixer and now is the time to start using your most Instagram-friendly tool. And yes most people love sweets, but bread is where you should focus your attention.
Baking bread is an inexpensive, passive hobby that almost anyone can enjoy. The only ingredients you need for a basic bread are yeast, water, flour, and salt. You could even swap out the water and yeast for beer and baking powder. That’s it—that’s all you need. As you get comfortable with the basics, you can start tackling new types of breads like focaccia and challah.
As far as commitment goes, bread doesn’t require much. Mixing and kneading dough can take anywhere from 10 minutes (with a stand mixer) to half an hour (working by hand). After that, dough spends a couple hours rising and then you bake it. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can use a loaf pan—but you can also free form and bake your bread without a pan. And homemade bread keeps for a few days and freezes very well, so you could even take bread off your grocery list if you’d like.
2. Make your own scrunchies
Social distancing, isolation, and quarantine is the perfect time to do something different with your hair. Sure you can’t get to a stylist or barber for a whole new cut, but you can at least wear it in a new fun way and accessorize accordingly.
Because the 20-year cycle of nostalgia is always in effect, the 1990’s beloved scrunchies are back and better than ever. You can hop onto this trend and give yourself a new hobby by making your own.
Unlike bread baking, this isn’t passive. It requires careful measuring, cutting, and sewing, but this just means it’s a more engaging activity. You only need some fabric, an elastic, a safety pin, a needle and thread, so this is a pretty low-entry way to keep yourself busy. If you’ve got a sewing machine (or thinking about getting one), it’s a great starter project to help you learn your new tool.
Bonus for all the sewers out there: Scrunchies are a great way to use scrap and excess fabric to reduce waste from other projects.
3. Pick up drawing
This one is so obvious that I almost didn’t put it on the list. But then I realized that it’s so obvious that many people might ignore it for that very reason. So here I am, encouraging you to start drawing.
All you need to get started is a pen or a pencil and a piece of paper. Most instructional videos will tell you need charcoal or a specific type of pencil, but honestly that’s not true. As long as you can make a line, you can learn to draw.
Drawing might be a particularly good quarantine hobby because it both takes a great deal of time to improve while being open ended. You can draw anything as long as you can imagine it. And once you’re happy with how your drawings come out, you can start framing them to decorate your home.
If you’re not sure where to start, consult a comprehensive drawing guide, or find a series of helpful tutorials on YouTube.
4. Learn how to work with felt
Felt is one of the best materials out there. It’s sturdy, colorful, easy to manipulate, and it works well with other materials for mixed media projects.
Like drawing, felt work is incredibly open ended. I once made a bunch of eyeballs out of felt and cardstock for Halloween decorations. On the first season of NBC’s “Making It,” one of the contestants made felt taco toys. As long as you can cut and sew, you can make anything you want.
Sewing with felt requires focus because you don’t want the seams to be too obvious and you don’t want to have large gaps. And even if you’re hot glueing something to your felt, you need to pay attention to avoid burning yourself. This is all to say: working with felt is great for holding your attention so can forget your worries for a bit.
5. Teach yourself calligraphy
OK so you have a paper and pen but you don’t want to draw. That’s fine, I get it, drawing’s not for everyone and writing is more of your game. Well good news for you: Calligraphy is a great hobby.
There are some specific tools you need here, including dipping ink and a pen with interchangeable tips. Fortunately there are ready-made sets so you don’t have to spend a lot of time hunting down everything you need.
If you aren’t ready to commit to buying special supplies, you can use a regular ballpoint pen. Faux calligraphy is a technique that allows you to recreate the contrasting strokes of calligraphy while taking a little shortcut in terms of materials. Plus, it helps you learn the basics without requiring a great deal of commitment.
6. Learn how to knit
One thing I miss about being able to go outside is seeing people knit on the train. I don’t miss public transit, but I always thought it was neat when people would pull out their needles and yarn during their commute.
Knitting is difficult and requires very fine motor skills, so it will take time to learn how to improve. A good way to get started is to use a kit like We Are Knitters because it will guide you through the early stages while you work on your first project. Alternatively, local studios like Third Piece are offering virtual classes that will teach you how to knit through an instructor-guided live course. Our editor Kate Ellsworth attended the beginner’s How to Knit class and said it was a wonderful way to learn the basics of knitting at home.
Knitting can also help deal with feelings of isolation. Instead of knitting for yourself, think about making scarves, blankets, or hats for your friends and family who you’re separated from because of coronavirus.
7. Take up scrapbooking
One of the drawbacks of having social media and cloud backups for all our photos is that a lot of people don’t keep physical tokens of their memories. That’s where scrapbooking comes in.
This is the perfect activity for strolling down memory lane and getting sidetracked with a loved one. Trust me, you’ll find a picture or a ticket to a concert and end up reminiscing more than actually scrapbooking. There’s no better way to spend time than remembering the good times.
8. Get into gaming
There are all manner of games you can take up as a hobby. You can play amazing games right on your phone, so you can get started right away. But the two biggest you should consider are board games and video games.
Board games have entered a true golden age as publishers have pushed the boundaries of the medium. While many of the classics are still fun, you can find something new that really targets your interests. Because we shouldn’t spend much time outside, I recommend Tokaido which is all about traveling the East Sea Road in Japan. It’s a game about taking a long walk, and that’s something I wish I could do right now.
If you’re itching for social interaction, pick up a role playing game you can conduct over Zoom or Google Hangouts, like Dungeons & Dragons. Since there’s no real game board required, you can play with people no matter where they live.
As for video games, there’s no better hobby than playing the Nintendo Switch, especially since the fan-favorite game Animal Crossing: New Horizons just came out. It encourages multi-person play because it comes with two controllers right out of the box. The Nintendo eShop also allows you to download games like Stardew Valley and Celeste right at home so you don’t have to break quarantine to buy something.
9. Color with pencils, pens, and crayons
There was a point a few years ago when adult coloring books were all the rage. The trend was borne out of a combination of nostalgia, a yearning for relaxing activities, and increasing sophistication in coloring books.
A lot of the designs are very intricate, so they take up a great deal of time to fill in. You can also try out different types of tools for the actual coloring. Colored pencils are great to start with, but pens and fine markers might be your speed if you want brighter, sharper colors.
10. Practice at-home yoga
Everyone should try at least one hobby that encourages them to move around and get some exercise. Yoga is welcoming and relaxing, but can be high impact if you really want to push yourself.
Many studios are offering online courses during the quarantine and YouTube is full with free videos so you can dip your toe in without a major commitment. Many of our writers and editors recommend Yoga with Adriene. No matter what you try, staying active could keep you healthy by boosting your immune system.
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