Slow Hobbies: Cultivating Creativity

Gardening, sewing, quilting, knitting, baking, preserving food, and fishing were all part of regular, daily life when I was growing up. Back then, these things seemed like an awful lot of work (and they are!), but as a child, I never once stopped to consider that my family may have actually enjoyed doing them.

I recently started following a blog after discovering her series on slowing down and our modern relationship with time, which I definitely recommend, and two of the most recent posts — about slow movements and ancestral traditions — resolidified that these kinds hobbies are actually great ways to reconnect with oneself, nature, and cultivate creativity.

Although I have always loved reading and writing, both of which I would consider slow hobbies, they don’t always create something tangible. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried out a number of crafting hobbies that haven’t stuck.

  1. Sewing: Too involved for me and I suck at measuring.
  2. Wire wrapping jewelry: Enjoyable and a great stress-reliever, but didn’t hold my interest for more than a few weeks.
  3. Adult coloring books: I can get behind this idea but I’m too impatient for the super-intricate ones and rather than having a calming effect, they kind of stress me out.
  4. Crocheting: I tried it and it’s fine, but not my thing.
  5. Vegetable gardening: I love the idea, so much, but don’t actually enjoy it. Planning it, I’m into. But planting and harvesting, meh.

Obviously, I’ve tried a variety of hobbies with little to no success. And it’s taken me a year or two to find ones that truly satisfy me and allow me to reconnect, slow down, and unwind. So what are they?

 

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In progress, Bianca Del Rio quote (pattern purchased from Plastic Little Covers Esty) for a friend and completed US map (free pattern from Country Living magazine). They’re not perfect, but nothing ever is!

 

Cross-Stitch

Relatively cheap and super-easy to learn, cross-stitch requires minimal supplies: hoop, thread, and needle. If you’re like me, a pattern is usually required, too. You can buy kits at hobby and craft stores that come with everything you need. Instant-download patterns are easy to find on Etsy and cheap in comparison to purchasing an already-stitched design.

Cross-stitches make awesome gifts and, depending on how detailed or large the design, you can whip them out quite fast. Plus, cross-stitch taught me the #1 thing I need in a craft: immediate results.

With every stitch, you can see your progress and something coming to fruition. I’m sure the same could be said for just about any handmade craft (sewing, knitting, etc) if you’re not me. Crocheting was visible progress, but the outcome wasn’t always as clear in my mind’s eye. But with cross-stitching, I can complete an outline or given section and visualize the final product, which is much more satisfying.

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Fresh basil, mint, and sage.

Herb & Succulent Gardening

I know. I just said I don’t like vegetable gardening, so how on earth could I enjoy herb gardening? Well, for starters, herbs are much more low-maintenance than veggies. I can plant them, water them, and kind of forget about them and they still produce. Plus, they happily flourish in containers, unlike the produce we’ve tried.

Fresh herbs, like fresh produce, always have better flavor. But I can always dry them if we have an abundance (hello, Mint!) and use them try my hand at making herbal remedies, teas, or personal care products.

Succulents = the best of the best. These little babies are used to living the arid life. I can forget to water them for a week, and they don’t mind one bit! The variety of shapes and colors they come in are amazing. I love hunting through thrift shops or antique malls for quirky mugs and planters to add even more whimsy to them and spruce up our patio.

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Clockwise from top: Vegan Reuben sandwich, no-bake chocolate coconut cookies, and prep for homemade borscht.

Baking & Cooking

Although cooking dinner can feel like a hassle, when I have the time to concoct something new it’s always enjoyable. Baking is another great option because I love treats, but I like to play with healthier versions and often veganize a favorite baked good or try a gluten-free recipe…sometimes I opt for both vegan and gluten-free.

Baking is a precise art. Since moving to Colorado, my skills aren’t quite up to snuff and I’m still adapting to the higher altitude. I’ve certainly created a few overly dry, slightly crispy baked goods. And our new, smaller budget means cooking at home (most days) which means making our favorites and trying a few new recipes, as well.

It’s no longer a mystery why…

  • My paternal grandma liked sewing, cooking, and gardening.
  • Most people in my family love to go fishing and/or hunting.
  • My mom enjoys making homemade cards and is really good at it.
  • My maternal grandma loved puzzles, of all kinds, and bird watching.
  • My parents like gardening and preserving food.

All of these pastimes are relaxing, engaging, and offer a productive way to use your free time. Most of them are economical to do or even save you some money. Do I ever watch Netflix while I cross-stitch? Sure…the background noise is nice, but now I have something to show for those hours.

What are your favorite old-fashioned or “slow” hobbies? Leave your suggestions in the comments below and maybe I’ll give them a whirl!

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