habit shift: hobbies.

January 21, 2020
habit shift: hobbies

Being an adult person with a full time job who also spends a lot of time parenting small children, can make me feel like finding the time to learn a new skill, or get lost in a new interest, or do anything at all that isn’t optimized for maximum efficiency or earning isn’t time well spent. And yet, ironically, as a parent of young children, I’m also eager for my kids to embrace exactly the kinds of pleasure-filled, carefree, utterly inconsequential-but-still-satisfying hobbies that I too often deny myself.

In the gifts that we choose and the books that we read and the creative ways that we try to fill long winter afternoons, James and I both try to model a love of learning and curiosity and craft for our kids in ways that we’re less great about making happen for ourselves. For my part, as the writer of a blog like this one in particular, I find that it can become particularly easy to turn just about everything into work, timing projects for moments when there’s good light for picture-taking, or thinking of ways that I can share the process, or craft a story, or finding a good spot for fitting something or other into the editorial calendar. In part, no question, this is something that I deeply love about my work—the freedom, the creative control, the flexibility—but it also means that I rarely take the time to do something that’s truly just for me. And so this year, I’m trying my best to do more for myself alone.

modern rug hooking by rose pearlman | reading my tea leaves

Writing about taking up a new hobby while 33-weeks pregnant and perennially exhausted might sound like a fool’s errand, but hope springs eternal and I’m hoping I can make it happen. By way of encouragement and in celebration of learning something new, I’m hosting a giveaway with Rose Pearlman on my Instagram page this week. We’re giving away a copy of my book, Simple Matters, a copy of Rose’s new and masterful book Modern Rug Hooking, plus a beautiful rug hooking kit put together by Rose herself. The kit includes a 9-inch Reusable Rug Hooking Hoop with pre-stretched monks cloth, a #10 Regular Oxford Punch Needle with box, stitch guide and instructional booklet, 6 ounces of hand-dyed Seal Harbor Rug Co. yarn, and a cotton/ linen bag for storage. All of the details on how to enter can be found on Instagram.

And whether the hobby is rug hooking or fly fishing, I’m curious to know what some of you might be up to. Please feel free to share in the comments.

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  • Reply LaTonya January 21, 2020 at 1:21 pm

    Ohhh!!! This was totally my mom’s hobby (5 kids and single) and it saved her. Definitely, still trying to find the corners in which a hobby takes prominence. But hoping over to social to join in just because maybe now’s a good time!


    • Reply ERIN BOYLE January 21, 2020 at 1:22 pm

      no way! the best time 😉

  • Reply LaTonya January 21, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    *hopping but also hoping! ha

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE January 21, 2020 at 1:27 pm

      i mean, can’t hop without hope!

  • Reply Judith Ross January 21, 2020 at 1:32 pm

    I learned how to knit when my children were young and made several sweaters during that time — it was a great mental break. Now that I’m retired and have a new muse in the form of a grandchild, I’m working to improve my rather basic knitting skills. It’s good for the brain. Rose’s projects are so luscious and beautiful and the process so intriguing, I want to learn more! As a wise woman once told me, “you have to enjoy every step of the process.” I agree — it’s about the process and the satisfaction of learning something new “just because.”

    • Reply Mo February 21, 2020 at 9:08 am

      Did you know that knitting is actually scientifically proven to be good for the brain and can help slow down Alzheimers and dementia because you do not only have to remember things, but you are also working with both hands simultaneously? I find it fascinating and need to pick that book up again! (The book The Power of Knitting by Loretta Napoleoni, will soon be available in English too and is definitely worth a read. Not affiliated, promise!)

      I always knit for mental health, it calms my nerves, centers me and lowers stress. I’m having a new nephew in a few weeks, and he is already well equipped with hats, mittens, blankets and cardigans.

  • Reply Persephone January 21, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    I started making paper flowers a few months ago. It drives me bonkers, but also gets me deep into the flow, where everything slows down and gets quiet and focused. Making things saved my life more than once. I think of it as a necessity for mental health.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE January 21, 2020 at 1:42 pm

      The daffodil you shared on Instagram last week was incredible! Love to you!

  • Reply Megan January 21, 2020 at 1:57 pm

    Cooking or bread baking or cookie baking cuz also pregnant and cookies are good. Recently made chocolate pudding from scratch for the first time. Maybe not the flashiest of hobbies but it taps into a different portion of my brain and feels like an escape at the same time. Then snacks for everyone at the end.

  • Reply Maureen Smith January 21, 2020 at 2:13 pm

    Last year while about 33 weeks pregnant with my fourth, I took up sourdough bread making. I knew nothing about it but read a great book on the subject and was able to get some starter. I recently returned to it after a little break over the summer and fall months (you know adjustment to life with 4 small kids and all ;)) and am so thankful I did. It fills me up to the brim to make sourdough bread. 🙂

  • Reply Carly January 21, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    I love to sew, and I started doing it seriously soon after my first baby was born. It’s a nice way to spend some alone time. It’s especially fun to master a skill or make a gift for a friend you know they’ll really value and enjoy 🙂

  • Reply Ellen January 21, 2020 at 2:23 pm

    With newly acquired bamboo knitting needles, butcher’s twine, and instructions from a certain blogger, I’m learning (relearning) to knit a potholder that has been on my mind since it’s picture appeared a few weeks back.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE January 21, 2020 at 2:31 pm


  • Reply Hannah January 21, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    Soap making! I love fancy body care but hate paying for it. I took up soap making a few years ago as a way to indulge myself (and make exactly what I want), but it is also lovely to always have a last minute gift on hand that is heartfelt and enjoyable to use. Plus, it’s technical but not difficult which I enjoy. Sometimes I think about selling it, but always come back to the realization that monetizing it would kill the enjoyment I get from doing it. But I love LOVE giving it away (and seeing it in my friends houses!).

    • Reply Audrey January 21, 2020 at 5:56 pm

      I took a soap-making class at a local apothecary last year and had no clue how science-y it is! My hat is off to you.

  • Reply Jenny January 21, 2020 at 2:51 pm

    pottery making! I started taking wheel classes last year and it’s been so fun (also frustrating at times) to learn something new from scratch. I wasn’t much of a hobby person before and I’ve found it life changing.

  • Reply Kim January 21, 2020 at 3:17 pm

    I have been in love with all things pertaining to the fiber arts for most of my life! I have not had the pleasure of rug hooking as of yet. I love the projects on Rose’ site and am enjoying reading your blog also. Crafting calms my soul and energizes the creative spirit in me. Learning a new craft is always exciting.

  • Reply Alba January 21, 2020 at 4:03 pm

    Rowing mum right here. I started last summer and I’m hooked! You really have to concentrate on the moves and not falling from the boat, so I strongly recommend it for stressed and overwhelmed mums. It works and feels great to be in the water.

  • Reply Rebecca K Ringquist January 21, 2020 at 5:19 pm

    I am an embroidery artist/ designer, and I spend a fair amount of work time working on new designs/ patterns. However, recently, I’ve taken up the hobby of visible mending, and it has been bringing me so much joy. The satisfaction of making things that not only last longer/ live on to house another pair of legs/ but also get more beautiful in the process has been really great. I recently took in a pile of my friend’s kiddo’s pants- looking forward to lots of cozy nights of stitching this winter.

  • Reply Linda January 21, 2020 at 5:35 pm

    Wish I did instagram would have loved to participate in the drawing
    Oh well!

  • Reply Boots January 21, 2020 at 7:00 pm

    At Christmas, I took a week off work to be festive, sure, but also to paint a bedroom. Work tends to creep into weekends, so I carved out 2 full week days for my home improvement project, and I was pumped to move closer to checking that off my to-do list. While at home — with the tree lit up — I discovered some felt roving, and was reminded I’ve wanted for years to try felting a tree ornament — a bird. So I also carved out time to sit and make something PURELY decorative. Gosh, did the bird turn out lovely. I painted the room, too, but something tells me my mental health benefited more from getting lost in a creative activity like felting birds. I almost reached a flow state, and consider that a win.

  • Reply Sherri Brown January 21, 2020 at 8:03 pm

    Back when I was parenting three young children a friend and also mother of three enlightened me to the fact that in our role as parents most of our day to day life was experienced as circular. As the daily tasks were constantly returning and feeling a sense of completion as a human being was challenging. She was a skilled knitter and created a little yarn shop in her home. She also offered weekly knitting classes for our community. This was satisfying in many ways and as my friend described it gave us an opportunity to create and complete something.

    • Reply Jess January 21, 2020 at 11:34 pm

      As a full time parent to an almost three year old, I wish I had realized this sooner. I have been so enthusiastic about her learning and sense of play and creation, I forgot almost entirely about my own. I taught myself to knit over the holidays and it has already been the most wonderful addition to my days (and nights!). It’s also such a pleasure to do something with my hands and mind in front of her as she plays that a) allows me to interact with her and b) doesn’t involve my phone. Just today she asked me “can I knit too?” and my heart melted a little. To more of that.

  • Reply Laura January 21, 2020 at 8:11 pm

    I highly recommend film photography. It forces the opportunities to slow life down and develop or rediscover an appreciation for process, patience and imperfection. It’s easy to mail away your film for developing and prints or you can experience the sense of magic that takes place in the darkroom. Equipment, materials, and classes are widely available. My camera, film, and prints take up very little space in my studio apartment too! It’s a great hobby because you can take it anywhere and make it as simple or complex as you desire.

  • Reply Meghan January 21, 2020 at 8:48 pm

    This post really resonated with me. Also a mom of two young children, tech entrepreneur, home chef, and all the roles…. I started a small modern style cross stich project a bit ago and have find it completely meditative and stress reducing. It’s become something that feels revolutionary to sit down and choose to enjoy when there is always something else that could be done. I’ve been following Rose for a bit now and dreaming of trying my hand next at rugs.

  • Reply Rhonda Hetzel January 22, 2020 at 12:11 am

    I’ve just discovered your blog and have had a quick look. I’ll certainly be back later for a deeper read. I took up rug making with a hook 40 years ago when I was pregnant with my children. Since then I’ve done very small projects but I’ve always wanted to learn the punch method and it’s one of the things I hoped to get into this year. I’ll check out your IG page, thank you.

    And you have a book out! I didn’t know that. Congratulations. Honestly, I walk around in my own private world most of the time. Good luck with the book. I hope it’s a great success.

  • Reply Elizabeth Nudd January 22, 2020 at 8:50 am

    Slowly gathering/reviewing supplies for needle-punch ! I sew, knit, and have just learned to do basic crochet because I wanted a fingering weight granny stripe blanket so much. Just found your posts through Rose and can t wait to read them.

  • Reply Jessica January 22, 2020 at 10:07 am

    Knitting is my love language, but I need wrist surgery (and wrist surgery means no picking up kids, so it’s delayed). Instead, I’ve taken up making my own hand salve and beeswax candles thanks to a certain someone (and a certain someone’s husband). I’m also trying my hand at wool felting, if for no other reason than repeatedly stabbing something with a needle is incredibly, intensely satisfying (provided one keeps one’s thumbs out of the way…..)

  • Reply Beverly Fisher January 22, 2020 at 10:58 am

    I’m a visual artist and landscape designer, but as a minimalist I’ve decided that my hobby for this year is to play guitar –just quiet,
    un-amplified sound.

  • Reply Erin January 22, 2020 at 12:45 pm

    I started back up with Irish Dancing! It’s been fun, especially since my daughter is also doing it now. 🙂 And WHAT A WORKOUT!

  • Reply Becky January 22, 2020 at 1:03 pm

    I work 50 hours a week, no kids but a house a husband a dog. A creative outlet saves my sanity as I try to transition to a new career. Honestly just being creative saves my sanity in general. I get antsy when I dont travel or create something. I carve linoleum into my own designs that I can stamp on a teeshirt or paper, just recently taken up book making and so curious as to why I didnt sooner, but my real love is photography. I am constantly photographing, editing, and updating my portfolio site. It’s great when someone likes what I make but honesy it’s for me not them.

  • Reply Deb January 22, 2020 at 1:34 pm

    Learning to paint with watercolors. Bought a book and supplies, watched some videos, and carve out a little time each day to play, try a new technique, learn something new. Having fun, nurturing myself.

  • Reply Anna January 22, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    I knit and sew simple items for myself out of lovely natural linen, alpaca yarn, etc. It’s such a joy to replace fast fashion with more considered options, be creative and do something tactile (my job is writing and editing at a computer all day). I can’t wait to make special items for my future children one day.

  • Reply mado January 22, 2020 at 7:48 pm

    In my 20s I was once described by a dear friend as “a hobby person” in relation to my stashes of supplies for a multitude of creative pursuits, mostly painting and drawing and sewing and knitting. I was rather offended as I was already aspiring to be more minimalist. But I think I have been embracing the idea more over the years. I know I am filled with joy whenever, in response to a lack of some immediately necessary element for imaginative play, my son spontaneously responds with “we can make one!” Making things warms my soul and feeds some kind of elemental need, no matter if the thing is a knee patch on jeans that I know will only get 6 more months of wear or a halloween costume that I will probably enjoy much more than my child or (currently in process) homemade walnut stain for bookshelves, delaying the already months-long diy project by another week, but I just could not resist since the walnuts are falling off the trees in the park and what a great story it will be, no matter what color it turns out. What a lovely way to be human.

    • Reply erika May 28, 2020 at 11:01 am

      I describe myself as a dabbler. My brother says I’m the real life version of the kid from Rushmore. I used to try everything that piqued my interest but I realized that it’s rare that I don’t end up obsessed with my new craft and I have more pursuits than time. So I tried to be more selective by trying and doing things that require less tools and supplies. It can be tough though and I still get wistful that I never got into home brewing or gave away my stained glass tools. Now I don’t always have time to do everything I’d like to but it’s a lovely feeling going back to something I haven’t done in awhile and it feeling so easy, comforting and joyful.

  • Reply Katie January 24, 2020 at 1:30 pm

    I’ve been singing off and on with the chorus at my local University for the past 10 years. It feels like exercise and meditation all at once. Last year I started taking aerial dance trapeze lessons, and have fallen in love with it. I love seeing how my body can move through space (and getting so strong!), and I got to perform last month, which only stoked the flame!

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