This is a guest post from regular contributor Heather Griffiths. Heather blogs at Holistic Nurturhood.
Hobbies are important.
Hobbies make us dynamic people with interests and passions. They are creative outlets and a way to unwind.
But hobbies can also drain us.
Projects left uncompleted guilt us every time we see them piled in the corner, calling out to us to complete that half-finished quilt, hat, mod podge picture craft, or broken up pallet in the back yard.
Hobbies can make us feel spent when we have so many things that need to be done.
With Pinterest taunting/inspiring us to do more, it is so easy to want to create all the amazing things that we see. I LOVE handmade items, clothes, toys, kitchen and home decor. If it is handmade I most certainly want it.
I cannot buy all the handmade things. So I try to make them.
When my oldest daughter was six months I taught myself to crochet via youtube tutorials and the guidance of my best friend. I love to crochet. Or rather, I love that I know how to crochet. I can make a new hat when I need to. I can fill a need in my home with a handmade item that I personally made.
When I first started crocheting
…I wanted to “crochet all the things.” I made hats, blankets, sweaters, blankets, a shrug, blankets, scarves. Did I mention blankets? At one point I thought I would try my hand at a rug. I saw this adorable, bright colored rug made from nylon rope on Pinterest. The tutorial seemed straight forward; pink nylon rope from Lowe’s, a huge crochet hook, and crocheting in the round.
I gathered my supplies and went to work. I couldn’t even make a chain with that damn pink rope. How the heck am I supposed to crochet in the round with this thing?
I put down the rope and walked away. But every time I went to get some yarn to make a hat or blanket that pink rope stared at me. “You really bought three bunches of bright pink rope to make a rug and now you’re not even going to try. Good going,” it taunted me.
I felt frustrated with myself and with Pinterest for thinking I could “do all the things.” I held onto that rope for a long time. I let it taunt me and make me feel like I could never finish what I started.
And then came knitting.
Years later, when my youngest was only a few weeks old, I decided I would learn to knit. I love the look of knit items. They seem so much softer and more flexible than crochet, and I wanted to try something new. I started with some dish cloths, which was easy enough, and then moved on a toddler ski mask.
It took me weeks to make a ribbed neck 6” in diameter and 4” high. WEEKS. I could have made a crocheted ski mask in two days in my free time.
Eventually, when I was ready to start the actual hat portion of the mask, I missed a stitch. In my haste and inexperience I tried to fix it but ended up ruining it. Rows and rows of stitches, weeks of work gone in two minutes.
My daughter needed a new hat for winter, which would be here in a matter of days, and all my effort was gone. I could crochet a similar hat in two days in my spare time. Needless to say I was frustrated. I wasn’t ready to give up knitting just yet, but I didn’t go back to the hat, which was poisoned with too many emotions.
I tried a simpler hat for myself. Three rows in and again it fell apart in my hands. I tried again. Six rows before my inability to fix a missed stitch ruined another attempt.
Finally I asked myself, “Why am I doing this? Is this making me happy?”
My eyes hurt from trying to focus on my work. My hands hurt from the needles. I wasn’t having fun and I could easily make a hat with a different method. So why was I trying to persevere with knitting?
I still love knit items. I would still love to learn to knit. But right now there are so many other things that need my attention and I don’t have the time or patience to give to knitting.
I put my needles away. I stared at my craft supplies and the damn pink rope looked up at me. “Why are you holding onto me!!” it seemed to yell.
Instead of putting my needles into my craft box I put them into the donate box.
I put scraps of fabric into garbage bags. Pink rope, acrylic yarn, sheets of felt meant for a quiet book that was never made, half-made sewing patterns that would need to be made again from scratch if ever to be used, all found its way into either the garbage or donate box. The only hobby supplies that remained were a few skeins of quality wool yarns, crochet hooks, and my favorite fabrics for making clothes.
I took Pinterest off my phone
…and determined that I would not start a new project until I finished the current one. I started thinking about what hobbies I get excited about. What hobbies bring me the most joy and don’t feel like a chore?
Gardening, reading, writing, and the outdoors.
I stopped thinking of crochet as a hobby. It is something I can do to fill a need instead of make an excess of blankets. Since it isn’t a hobby any more I no longer feel the need to “make all the things.” I still crochet when we need a hat or a new sweater for the girls. I still enjoy it. But I’m not making blankets or hats or tea cozies just for the sake of making them.
It’s something I can do. It isn’t something I do.
By decluttering my hobbies I have been able to focus on what really brings me joy. I have started writing again. I have been able to read 2-3 books a month (and if you have small children you know how hard that can be). I can take my children outdoors and am able to be present in the moment.
There is no project waiting for me to get home or waiting for me to pick up another supply item at the store. I don’t have a mess of yarn or fabric waiting for me to clean it up when I get home. I can be present with my children without guilt of something else that needs to be done. And I come home renewed.
I’ve been able to focus more on my garden and read different gardening books. And because I’ve focused on my garden I’ve found a new interest that truly excites me, herbalism. Had I been too distracted with hobbies that don’t excite me, I would never have focused on gardening as I did. I would never have thought about herbalism before. And now it is all I read about. I am so eager to start my own herb garden next spring.
I’ve found new interests and passions that truly bring me joy by letting go of the ones that made me feel pressured.
What hobbies do you feel are pulling at you but not giving you the same return? What hobbies are starting to feel like a chore and not a joy? Are you ready to cut back? It’s time to focus on hobbies that make you feel alive, motivated.
Get rid of the supplies that yell at you, the supplies that make you feel guilty every time you pass them by. Let those projects go and take back your joy in hobbies. If you love to craft, than craft. But don’t feel pressured to do all the different types of crafts. If you love to make tea cozies, than make tea cozies till your counters are covered in brightly colored tea pots. But don’t feel pressured to make sweaters.
Follow your interests, ignore Pinterest, and take back your free time.
From Heather: I’m a Holistic Nurturer. I do my best to create a healthy environment for all to grow and thrive in using sustainable means. I garden and home-educate. I aim to consume less and grow more as a woman. I dabble in herbalism and minimalism. I write for Holistic Nurturhood. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram!
I don’t know the date on this post, but it speaks to me TODAY. I so rarely hear people talking about this. This weird kind of pressure, letting a hobby get so wrapped up in identity that it feels impossible to “give it up”–even if that just means putting away the needles in a small box of supplies, for a day in the future when you put skills to use to make something needed, necessary, or truly relaxing (process-focused). After years of identifying myself strongly with quilting and sewing, those were no longer hobbies that were part of who I was on a daily basis. We don’t need more quilts and I have no place to store them anyway. Sewing clothes for my daughters when they were young was so fulfilling and fun and stimulating—but then I stopped sewing and the fancy machine and serger just took up space and reminded me of who I used to be, in simper times, perhaps? Sewing little dresses during naptimes and reading through pattern books for fun. But people are allowed to change, and also are allowed to release a hobby that has twisted itself into a stressor or source of guilt. THANK YOU for writing what you did here. I will reread and remind myself that it is okay to let go of art supplies that are cluttering my room to a degree I am not comfortable with.
I’m SO glad you found this when you needed it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
I found this post in perfect timing! I have so many hobbies draining the crap out of me! I have multiple stashes of craft items with things I haven’t touched in a year or more. I have a box of items I finally worked up the courage to give away, but I know I really need to add more. *sigh*
Guilty as charged. I just found a cross stitch pattern I must have started over 8 years ago. I am in the process of finishing it now. Then I need to purge the craft closet. Thanks for sharing on the #HomeMattersParty – I hope you will join us, next week.
So glad this post resonated with you! Good luck with your purge!
This really resonates with me. I have a big closet that I’ve turned into my craft room. Except it’s so crowded with old supplies and unfinished projects that it’s awful to be in. I hand onto many of those things out of guilt. I mean, I paid for most of it! Other stuff has been gifted to me. It’s so hard to let go, but you’re so right about it taking over.
that sounds so frustrating! I get the paying for it though. But I’ve already paid the price, I don’t need to pay with my time if it isn’t something that is bringing me joy. Let it go!
Isn’t Facebook just another time consuming thing? I dropped FB a long time ago I use it for my family I rarely use it for anything else , pinterest is a more pleasurable form of media. If pinterest is such a task for you to use then why do I find you on it? Why are you in this little party? You preach FB & let go of pinterest what’s the diffeerence? Like Amanda said Facebook can be just as bad you need to step back & take a look at yourself. Admit it your addicted to pinterest just like everybody else. I bet you get your beverage of choice and settle in for a day of pinterest shopping like the rest of us. lol I would never take pinterest off my phone You are telling people to turn off pinterest from their phone why are you still on yours? dud
This is a guest post. Heather isn’t on Pinterest much these days, and I (Emily) don’t find Pinterest to be a time-suck in my life. I pop in for a few minutes and that’s enough for me, and I use a scheduler to schedule posts there – I’m not actually on throughout the day. Just a few times a week.
Also, there’s not much “preaching” going on either… we’re writing from our experiences, and you can take the parts that resonate with you, and leave the rest.
Facebook is a huge time stealer, you’re right. I have also taken FB off my phone and add it back when I trust myself to manage it better. I found myself using Pinterest to entertain me with ideas and dreams but every time I shut the app I felt unmotivated and sad because my house wasn’t “Pinterest worthy” because I was spending more time being entertained and sidetracked with projects by Pinterest than being motivated by it. But that’s me. If you are able to manage your time with Pinterest and FB in ways that are best for you, more power to you.
Great ideas – I downsized my supplies and projects last summer. Really focused on what I enjoy the most and was able to get all my supplies into what I call an art cart – something I built and I love it! Having everything in one place is the best.
I’m so glad the post resonated with you. And certainly having it all in one place helps so much! I just moved all of mine into another room and seeing it all together really helps.
In addition to Pinterest, Facebook is another time stealer. I have two accounts, but am only active on one. Even with one I will often set a timer to remind me that enough is enough. Pinterest however, is going to be a tough one to get rid of. I think I’ll start with my craft supplies. Thanks for the encouragement!
facebook is tough for me. I want to stay connected to friends and family, but not stare at my phone when I am actually With my friends and family. I’m getting better though. 🙂
I have so many unfinished projects lying around the house taunting me when I walk past. I try not to look at Pinterest, but unfortunately for me Facebook has become just as bad lol. Thank you for sharing with us at Merry Monday!
Facebook has changed with all the videos now too! All the yummy food I see in my newsfeed that I want to make. But seriously, who has time to make spaghetti ice cream?
I applaud taking Pinterest off of your phone! I’ve done that as well and it’s an awesome thing (as is taking Facebook off, ha!). Hobbies are a great thing, both for something to do and something to look forward to, but it can get out of hand if it feels like it’s become a chore. Hobbies should never be chores, they should be rewarding! 😀
I completely agree. Glad my post resonated with you!
Great post! I deleted Pinterest off my phone weeks ago and don’t regret it. My hobby supplies are on my list of things to declutter this year. I want to focus on the things and hobbies that bring me joy this year!
so glad it resonated with you! It feels so good to complete a project that you actually Enjoy instead of one you feel begrudgingly about.
[…] to get compliments on clothing that I made myself, I don’t consider clothing making a hobby. It is a skill set that I have to help save my family money and live a more sustainable life style. […]
Wow!! I never thought of it like that! I have thousands of things I could do but never have time to do. Every morning when I am on my treadmill I’m looking up at the containers of yarn thinking how much money I put into that and how I’ve since changed my mind about knitting or crocheting the items I bought the yarn for. I have given some yarn to my daughter-in-law who makes animals with it. I’m so going to attack some of the stuff that is staring me down. Thanks!!
I agree taking pinterest of my phone was one of my smartest choices.
It’s amazing how much of a time drain it can be. Taking it off meant I actually had time to do the projects I wanted to do instead of looking for more!