From Our Readers
July 17, 2012 3:00 am
I have been hopping from one hobby to the next since about age five. I have picked up and put down more pastimes than I can remember. I’m still not sure if it’s attention deficit disorder or healthy curiosity that drives me from one activity to the next. Sadly, most of these diversions lost their sparkle over time… leaving me with a whole lot of junk.
Take photography for example. After inheriting two DSL cameras from my aunt, I thought it would be fun to learn to use them. I now have enough photography knowledge to get sleepy whenever I hear the word “aperture”. Not content to just take blurry pictures, I also learned how to develop them is a darkroom. Included was a foray into brownie and pinhole cameras. All I can say of this adventure is that I am now very enthusiastic about cheap, point and shoot digital cameras.

Knitting and crocheting came to me via my mom, my two great aunts and a very crafty cousin. I still love all this stuff, it has stuck. These days I always have two sweaters and a doll or something on the needles. Alas, the fibre arts were not without their casualties: I did attempt spinning (too hard, too slow), and needle felting (couldn’t get the hang of it, wound up stabbing myself repeatedly in the thumb. Not fun).

Sewing and I have a very bittersweet relationship. At least once a year I forget that I cannot sew and endeavour to pull of something simple, like a custom tailored dress. Good money is thrown after bad, tears ensue and the whole thing is forgotten for another year. The last sewing frenzy ended when a woman at the coffee shop asked me if I’d made my own skirt. Of course I had, and was mortified that anyone could tell.

Somehow, I’ve acquired two perfectly serviceable sewing machines.

Quilting was only a minor disaster, I did manage to make the world’s heaviest T shirt quilt out of my partner’s old hardcore punk T shirts. It is perfect for a cold night, you just can’t really sit up too well under the weight of it.

Journaling also became a trial. I never seemed to be able to strike a balance between documenting only the hideous details or petty humiliations of bad relationships, or the saccharine tone of a ‘gratitude journal’. Now I’m left with journals from my twenties which are too horrifying to reread and too embarrassing to discard without a shredder and an open flame.

In the interest of expediency I’ll rhyme the other expressive arts that I’ve botched: jewellery making (turns out you need a lot of stuff, including cute charms and expensive stones), hair cutting (once in a while I still forget this is a bad idea, resulting in an emergency trip to a professional), belly dancing, herbalism, comic drawing, comedy writing, metal working, silk screening, screen printing, painting–oil, acrylic and watercolour, guitar and of course, the bluegrass fiddle.

The culinary arts were not safe either: ice cream-, yogurt- and bread-making. Each with its own equipment still haunting my kitchen. Vegan cooking and baking has stuck now for about 7 years, and I still love it. Another home experiment ongoing is a side trip into beer making, turns out it is pretty fun to make your own buzz.

But the failures have continued to mount: I have been unable to express myself in French and Spanish. Physical perfection has eluded me in yoga, spinning and weight training. I have been running for over a year, a fact of which I am inordinately proud.

Gardening: herb/vegetable and flower, has been mostly a bust.

At the end of the day I am a happy dilettante. I think of myself as a bumblebee of the hobby world, sniffing all of the hobby flowers and settling on a few for greater or lesser lengths of time.

But the reality is my home has become a hobby graveyard, with jumbles of tennis rackets, print making supplies, plastic doll eyes, fake fur, balls of polymer clay, shrinky dink plastic paper, saved and collected buttons, rug hooking kits, aromatherapy equipment, rollerblades, buttonholers, abandoned musical instruments (at one point there was a trombone, a guitar and a fiddle in my apartment, all neglected). It can be a little overwhelming.

Of course, I can’t just get rid of anything; god knows I might pick it up again tomorrow.

Yet I know this is not the case. I know that the sane, organized side of me must one day soon acknowledge that while I have knit a dozen sweaters that I’m proud of, I cannot continue to donate fraying homemade skirts to the Goodwill….not all of my trash is someone else’s treasure. Having an assortment of handmade yarn is nice; having huge tupperwares full of snarled acrylic yarn is not. I have collected mouldy books for decoupage projects that never happened, rescued piles of fabric from the garbage, all to clutter my home. Part packrat, part delusional optimist. I have big plans though, to do a huge purge very soon. Get rid of any supplies that someone else might find useful. Improve my hobby karma by releasing some stuff to the universe.

Does anyone else have a hobby cemetery in their home? Or more optimistically, a hobby heaven?

You can read more from Sarah Innis here and here. You can follow her on Twitter here

(Image via Shutterstock)

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