Serial Hobbyist


Are you true to just one hobby? Do you consider yourself a quilter? A knitter? A person who sews only garments? A dabbler? All of the above? I love anything related to fabric. I also scrapbook. And make a little jewelry. In the past, I usually had one hobby at a time. I was a serial hobbyist.

My first love was clothes sewing. I took sewing classes in high school. Senior year I wanted to take a tailoring class, but there was only room in my schedule for one elective, and my guidance counselor and teachers wanted me to take Spanish 4. I stuck to my guns, and I am so glad. I have been sewing for 30+ years, whereas I have only used my Spanish-speaking skills about four times since high school.

Once I learned to sew, I was fearless. I made up my own patterns. I bravely turned thrifted and hand-me-down garments into little works of art. Then after college, I learned to make curtains and pillows in order to decorate on the cheap. Finally I fell into quilting. Mostly this was a way to use up all those scraps! Then I just randomly stopped sewing one day. I don’t know why. Busy with work? I don’t know.

Random photo to break up all the text in this post. Teaser for tomorrow.

When I found out I was pregnant, the creativity bug bit me again, so I got a book and taught myself to knit. After my first item, a garter stitch baby sweater, I made a bobbled baby sweater and then a cable-knit baby sweater. Then I had a baby. Oy. Knitting was too hard because I kept almost poking him in the eye with the needles. It’s hard to nurse and knit.

I joined the Sewing Guild and made baby clothes and nursing tops. (I also learned to dye silk but that didn’t last long.) I got fairly obsessive about sewing, buying a brand new sewing machine and serger despite being broke. (I still own both.) I ordered special presser feet, subscribed to Threads Magazine, attended sewing expos, made several wedding and bridesmaids dresses, and so on. I lived near Haberman Fabrics. It was hard not to love sewing.

We moved, and I found rubberstamping from a group of women I met in our new town. Oh my gosh did I love rubberstamp art. My dad built me a cabinet for all my stamps and inks. I sold Stampin’ Up! stamps for a little while. Then I found scrapbooking. Well, of course I did. I had a baby so I had a million photos and mementos. I fell pretty hardcore for scrapbooking. I have more paper than fabric, if not in volume, then certainly in weight. (ok, probably in volume too.)  I loved picking out paper because the patterns are so beautiful, and each sheet is only 30 cents or whatever, versus $6 for a yard of fabric. Then, after 2006, I just stopped scrapbooking. I had a very demanding job, and I just could not muster the energy.

There were a few very brief periods in there when I made a few quilts, like when my son was in the hospital for a week. I dragged my sewing machine to the Ronald McDonald house in Ann Arbor, and made a quilt while I waited. Then there was that short foray into jewelry making.

Around 2005 I got the urge to start knitting again. I also started crocheting. I think my husband would say I fell harder and longer for knitting than for anything else. I am not so sure. I have been doing that pretty much obsessively ever since. I like that knitting is portable, so it can be done in doctor’s offices and waiting rooms, in front of the TV, while sitting as a passenger in the car, etc. It’s easy to knit socially, so I have joined a few groups and, for the first time as an adult, I have real girlfriends outside of work. Knitting helps keep me sane, keeps my hands busy, helps me live in the moment, soothes my nerves when they are frayed. And of course, it fulfills my need to create with color and fabric.

While I still knit, I started sewing again in a serious way, about three years ago. I was asked to sew a lot of linings for friends’ knitted bags, or to sew knitting needle cases, or to sew project bags. And I remembered how much I love to sew. I started sewing garments. I started sewing quilts. I started a sewing group as a splinter off my knitting group. I joined a quilting group. I started buying patterns and fabric again. I mean, collecting, you know: stash.

I am shooting more for balance in my life now. I am not a serial hobbyist anymore. I work on whatever it is I feel like working on. I usually have several projects going. Right before the insulation contractor came, I had a beading project on my desk, baby quilt squares lined up on the floor, two knitting projects on the dining room table, and two blouse patterns pressed and ready for alterations on the cutting table.

I worried when I started this blog that I didn’t know what it was going to be about, or that people wouldn’t want to read it if it wasn’t specifically in one camp. Now I realize how silly that was. This blog is mainly for me, of course, to help me sort my thoughts, record my projects, meet new friends, get new ideas, and just write because I like to write.

It is good, in my opinion, to have a wide variety of hobbies and projects going, because it opens my mind to creative possibilities. Problems faced in one hobby can lead to solutions in others. So fascinating! And truly, there is a lot of talk about living in the present, but not a lot of advice about how to do that. Hobbies help me really be mindful of what I am doing, keeping my head from drifting to dark places. It’s hard to dwell on the past or worry about the future when I am installing an invisible zipper or casting on socks.

I got to thinking about all this today, because it is Thursday Think Tank. Instead of thinking about a specific project or a plan for the week, I started thinking about hobbies in general and what I do and why I do it. Also, I didn’t buy pants fabric, and I didn’t want to start yet another Thursday with a promise about how I was going to make those damn things.


3 responses »

  1. That’s good food for thought. I don’t feel that I’m particularly loyal or disloyal to any hobby. Things come and go as time allows. I suppose sewing is a persistent hobby. I’m not always sewing, but it’s there. Moving into the house and having space for it was important to me.
    I also love rubber stamps, I have collected since I was 14. I don’t buy them often now, but from time to time I will. A lot of my stamps are a bit juvinile because I was a teen teaching swimming lessons.
    I have avoided scrapbooking because I felt it would just be another hobby I would feel guilt that I didn’t have time for.

  2. I am an unabashed hobby whore! I agree with you that one hobby tends to lead to another. If you take up knitting or crocheting, at some point you’re going to need to sew a liner into something, so you pick up sewing, too. Then you think that was fun, so you try making clothing or quilting. It’s a huge hobby web that I am happy to be entangled in!

    I loved the part about it being difficult to nurse and knit. Hilarious!

    • My life would be miserable without hobbies. I just need some sort of creative outlet, or I get very edgy. It almost doesn’t matter what it is. It *is* a huge hobby web!

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