MetaTalkTail Hour: New Old Hobbies August 5, 2023 11:03 PM   Subscribe

Hi everybody, happy weekend! Since we haven't had one of these in a while I figured I'd give it a shot. My question: have these balmy summer months (or boredom, or some other agent, or pure chaotic chance) induced you to pick back up a hobby or undertaking that you used to be into, but dropped at some point in the past? What caused you to drop it? What made you decide to get back into it?

Or, just talk about what's up! But as always, please - no wagering politics.
posted by Greg_Ace to MetaFilter-Related at 11:03 PM (24 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Journaling and sketching!

> What caused you to drop it?

*gestures broadly at everything*

> What made you decide to get back into it?

*gestures broadly at everything*
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 1:56 AM on August 6 [12 favorites]

I messed around with watercolours very briefly in my late teens, and recently bought a new set. My work has started giving us a monthly wellbeing allowance as a new benefit, and I spotted a watercolour set with much more vibrant colours than the sets I usually see, and it cost more than I would usually spend on myself on a hobby I know I'm not already automatically good at, so I bought it with part of my wellbeing allowance.

A friend gave me a tiny little book with paper that's good for watercolours a while back, and the fact that the pages are so small (maybe 4"x3"? possibly even smaller) makes it really easy to 'finish' a painting and get a sense of completion and achievement.

I'm not good at painting but I'm enjoying it so far! I've given myself permission to just do colour studies or abstract stuff or whatever I feel like, rather than attempting to make representative art. I write a lot in my spare time, and it's nice to add in a different kind of creative hobby - and one that feels more fun (& sooner to 'done') than writing a novel, which sustains me on some kind of deep level but also frankly feels like work more often than not. Painting dinky little pictures, some of which will definitely be bad, currently feels fun, and I hope it stays that way.
posted by terretu at 3:12 AM on August 6 [11 favorites]

Knitting. I got into it in the mid-aughts, to the point that I made a couple garments for myself and a whole sack full of hats one Christmas for my family (in lieu of gifts, I made a crapton of hats, and dumped them all out onto a table and announced "Merry Christmas, pick whichever hat you want"), and foisted a couple of knitted garments onto my niece when she was wee.

Late 2010s economic tumult made me too exhausted and distracted to keep it up - I'd start a lot of projects, but I'd get bored easy and stop. Maybe I'd make something extremely small like a dishcloth or a kerchief or something (you can make one of those in just a couple hours) now and then, but that's it.

When I moved to this current apartment and was going through all my stuff, I decided to keep all the yarn, and challenged myself to really buckle down and get through it all. That....hasn't exactly happened. But dragging all that to this apartment forced me to see just how much yarn I had that I wasn't using, and this summer I decided to really shit or get off the pot, basically. I went through the stash, and about a third of it I offered up on Buy Nothing - one of the people to pick them up is a dude I'm seriously considering reaching out to to ask "wanna meet up for knitting hangs every now and then?" But I also have narrowed things down to four or five existing ongoing projects, and I'm going to focus on knocking them out over the course of the next year or so; a couple shawls, a blanket, a few mesh-type bags, a scarf for charity.

....That's also part of a larger-scale "use the shit you have, seriously" move overall - I coped with financial hardship during the recession by hoarding a lot of "tools" and "supplies" - craft and foodstuffs that I bought and justified to myself by thinking "I can use this for something else in the future" but then not using because "If I use it I won't have it any more, I need to save it for special". I've recently been pushing myself to actually use this stuff for a change (and some of it is even helping during some current unemployment, which looks like it will only be a brief stint this time). So in addition to the knitting I'm also looking into making decorative twine out of random fabric scraps, or customizing random notebooks with paper, or suchlike.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:51 AM on August 6 [3 favorites]

My paternal grandfather (now passed) was a tailor, so whenever we visited we played around in his small workshop. He had the really old Singer machines with the manual foot pedals so I remember finally being tall enough to reach the pedal and move the needle while staying seated. Never made anything myself other than fooling around with scraps of cloth and sewing them together with different types of stiches. Now, decades later, I found myself wondering while I take my clothes to the tailor to be adjusted after purchase if I could do some of these adjustments myself. So, we found someone selling an older Brother Innov-is 10 which apparently is a very well recommended beginner sewing machine and we are now using our weekend watching videos and testing it out. First project will be hemming a pair of pyjama pants. It's very exciting! as well as a bit nostalgic :)
posted by alchemist at 6:31 AM on August 6 [14 favorites]

Excellent Letterman clip below the fold.

I guess my past and present hobby is doing something with my photo archive? I didn't ever really stop taking photos, although a more critical eye does mean I tend to take fewer photos overall. I did more or less stop sorting, editing, captioning, and sharing photos after a failed transition from Aperture to Then I lost even more interest in dealing with my backlog after Flickr was acquired by SmugMug and I felt like I was paying for them just to tread water. I finally stopped paying them after a couple years and honestly missed it less than I expected (although I'm still nostalgic for that Internet era).

What's inspired me to do something was the fact I've been pretty happy running my own Akkoma server (like Mastodon, but not as resource heavy). I'd been wondering if Pixelfed would be a usable thing for me, and I decided that maybe if I ran my own server I would at least own all my image uploads even if I stopped using it. I started by uploading photos from our most recent trip and then dug into photos from our previous trips to Shenandoah National Park (where we're camping again in a few days for the Perseid meteor shower), and now I'm just kind of hopping around my archive looking for stuff that might post well.

The other day I picked up on my stalled process simply to sort photos into albums and group those albums into folders. I've created more than 120 albums this week alone and I've now made it all the way to the end of 2011. Only twelve more years of photos to go!
posted by fedward at 10:47 AM on August 6 [4 favorites]

I've done the stop-and-restart thing at least twice.

As a teenager I got into photography with an inexpensive SLR and cheap (at the time) Tri-X black & white film. When I filled up a roll I'd have the local photography shop process it and provide a contact sheet - the cheapest option for getting to see the results. Despite my pipe dream of someday somehow having my own darkroom, I ended up dropping the hobby after a couple of years because there was just no way I or my family could afford to go any further with it. Years later when consumer-level digital cameras became available, and I was an adult with discretionary income, I got back into it and have kept at it for the last 20 years or so...though the pandemic put a big dent in my activities and I haven't yet gotten back into full participation mode.

For a while in my 30s I lived in a situation that left me with a lot of idle time on my hands but very little money. I met a couple of artistic types who were also in this shared situation, and one of them got me into small-scale wood carving. All I had was a decent pocket knife, an old coping saw I'd inherited from my grandfather, and wood (and later small low-grade pieces of soapstone) I gathered from the nearby forested hills. I got pretty decent at it and carved a few pieces I was proud of - nothing larger than about 6", and even those took many hours to make with the tools I had available. That hobby understandably fell by the wayside when my situation changed to one where I had more money but much less free time. Then a few months ago I bought a Dremel tool - I'd been wanting one for ages, but didn't have a specific reason that I could use to rationalize my purchase. I finally determined I did have a good reason, bought it and successfully used it for that specific purpose, then stuck it in a closet and kind of forgot about it for want of another use. Recently though, a friend bought one and started carving soapstone with it; that rekindled my interest and now I have a 30lb box of soapstone pieces I bought off Etsy, some new Dremel bits, and a renewed hobby. I'm currently working on my first piece, but now with the help of a power tool it should be done before too long. I'm excited! Fortunately my style is sufficiently different from my friend's that I don't have to feel like a total copycat. :)
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:17 PM on August 6 [8 favorites]

In the early 2000s, I learnt to sew and became quite good at historical costume, especially corsetry. But in the past few years I've been really crap about starting and finishing things if there isn't a set-in-stone deadline.

(For a job I had last summer, I made myself several costume items, including a light-up skirt with wire lights inside and a "gossamer wings" organza cape with sleeves. Unfortunately the job ended prematurely and I never got to wear them onstage, which discouraged me.)

But today I finished hand-sewing two things: an alteration to the sleeves of a dress and a tricky mend to a burst and frayed side seam. Two dresses restored to wearability. Hope I get the right weather to show them off before summer's end.
posted by Pallas Athena at 2:58 PM on August 6 [5 favorites]

TTRPGs! I've played 'em since forever, and I've had a few long year-or-so-long stretches with gaming groups in adulthood, but at a certain point I realized that the energy I put into gaming was not getting put into writing.

This year, however, I was semi-surprised to learn about the rise of solo TTRPGs, and I thought "a-ha!" I've dabbled a little with it this past spring -- an evening here, a Sunday afternoon there -- but the last month-and-change I've been between drafts on a book, and happily fiddling with games. It's a fun, low-to-no stakes activity, and it's been such fun. I love writing, but it's never just pleasure for me, and doing something that's not tied to my life goals or whatever is very nice.

(I got into board gaming a bit more during the pandemic, solo and otherwise. The pleasures of RPG-like board games, plus wargaming, led me to look around and find out about where things are these days with RPGs.)
posted by cupcakeninja at 4:30 PM on August 6 [3 favorites]

terretu, might you share the name of that watercolor set? I like vibrant colors.
posted by kristi at 7:17 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]

Black and white photography hell yeah. It's the best.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 10:34 PM on August 6 [5 favorites]

French ronde script! I learned it as a kid in France, the third time I was taught handwriting (first by my mother, second in Polish school) and between that and learning comics lettering the next year, my cursive was well and truly fucked. I randomly went to a calligraphy course this spring where we learned proper 18th century ronde and German Gothic Textur blackletter. I am delighted to finally have a proper use for my fountain pen inks (an addiction I fully blame MeFi for setting me on Birmingham Pens), but quite apart from the Actual Calligraphy, the ronde elements in my cursive - all the elegant loops and proportions of the five lines in a cahier écriture - came back with a vengeance.

(Next up is Fraktur, then Uncial. Copperplate is pretty but it frankly scares me.)
posted by I claim sanctuary at 4:18 AM on August 7 [8 favorites]

I've got back into playing guitar after a couple of decades of not bothering with it much. The trigger for this was finding a really nice good-quality black Les Paul copy in a pawn shop for only $80, which is an absolute doppelganger in terms of looks and feel to the trusty old beater that I had back when I was in bands with guitars in them, which had disappeared somewhere along the way in my late 20s. Of course I bought it on the spot. Picking it up was like coming home, that's only way I can describe it.
posted by Chairboy at 6:48 AM on August 7 [10 favorites]

Fountain pens! Inks of all hues! I just got into fountain pens recently, for no real good reason. My handwriting is a mess, and I have no interest in taking up calligraphy. Maybe I'll end up using them to draw with...which I've also never been terribly good at. The pens and inks are still fascinating though.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:47 AM on August 7 [3 favorites]

The watercolour set was this one, but I have no idea if they ship beyond the UK.
posted by terretu at 9:04 AM on August 7 [2 favorites]

Greg_Ace, the best skill I learned in calligraphy class was Blobs. You just drop globs of ink on sturdy paper, or apply them with a drippy brush (or a stick!), then turn the paper all ways and let gravity do the work. Spray it with water for More Blob. Blow air over a drippy brush for Tiny Baby Blobs. Crumple a tissue and rub the blob for texture. Sheen inks! Glitter inks without messing up a fountain pen! The blobs end up looking So Pretty by themselves, but if one reminds you of something you can add cartoon dragon teeth or sheep ears or anything you fancy. And if you get an ugly blob, you're only out a few minutes, a sheet of paper and a few drops of ink. It's the joy of kindergarten art class all over again, facilitating the most fun accidents. No skill necessary.

(Technically you can also write on blobs, because they enhance everything. I got one that looked like rain so I pulled out the most pretentious Verlaine I could recall and it looks great in my shaky ronde script because Blob. I might frame it.)
posted by I claim sanctuary at 12:20 PM on August 7 [2 favorites]

That does sound like fun!
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:02 PM on August 7

terretu & kristi - Stuart Semple Watercolours palette at shop's USA site.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:22 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]

I'm trying to get back into painting 25mm-28mm (now 30mm for some games) TTRPG figurines. I just need to figure out how to have the paints accessible to me and not the cats.
posted by gentlyepigrams at 3:22 PM on August 7 [3 favorites]

It's fun, but a lot of work for something that's in the end, a bit useless and silly.

Isn't that the definition of any hobby?
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:50 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]

I have been considering taking up bowling again, which I was obsessed with when I was about 12. Not sure my wonky shoulder can handle it though. Plus which bowling alleys have changed quite a bit in the last [counts on fingers] 47 years.
posted by JanetLand at 4:02 AM on August 8 [4 favorites]

MetaFilter: It's fun, but a lot of work for something that's in the end, a bit useless and silly.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:26 PM on August 8 [5 favorites]

Golf. I dropped it 10 or 12 years ago and have recently reacquired the bug. I decided this time to rebuild my swing to be more “inside out”, and the result so far is that the new drills and thoughts have murdered the old swing and the new swing struggles to be born.
posted by notyou at 4:47 AM on August 9 [1 favorite]

Painting for me too. I was into it 15-25 years ago (though never very good at it) and lost interest. Recently I bought a place and decided to make an effort to decorate it, so I put up a collage of LPs then decided to do a couple of abstract paintings to help tie the color scheme together. They're simple things--just a few blocks of color--but I'm working on them periodically as I have the time and inclination and it's a nice diversion.
posted by johnofjack at 2:17 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]

Not a hobby, but I've been trying to revive my ability to stay up all night and wake up at odd hours, in order to watch more of the women's world cup live. Easy enough when I was younger and worked weird flight attendant hours.

I have not had much luck though, so I'm off to watch a replay wit the Australia-France match before I look at the news or greater internets and get spoiled.
posted by the primroses were over at 9:48 AM on August 12

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