I once bought a cross stitch kit that included silk threads in 27 different shades of beige. No, really.
In the end my desire to create a scene of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet on a bridge wasn’t as great as my inability to distinguish between tan, sand, fawn and all the rest, so I dumped the kit on a friend (she gave up on it too) – but hey, not all attempts at starting a new hobby go so badly.
Plus it’s a good thing to try new activities in our free time. Studies have shown that having interests (even beige ones) helps to make us happier. They are also a way to make new friends and escape from the pressures of school, homework and exams for a bit. What’s not to like about that?
So in the spirit of January, here are eight new extra-curricular activities to try in 2017, based on things you already love. Oh, and none of them require you to leave the sofa. Much.
If you already love colouring books…
Dot-to-dot is the new kid on the mindfulness block! But just as the recent trend for colouring is nothing like what you did when you were four, the new dot-to-dot books are hardcore, with literally hundreds of tiny points to join together. This requires some serious concentration but also distracts from stress and anxiety. You can draw (ok, dot) everything from famous people’s heads to adorable puppies – check out Thomas Pavitte’s books for the coolest selection.
As well as putting pen to paper, folding it is suddenly big news too. The ancient Japanese art of origami is so hot right now, and if you’re looking for a challenge as well as bedroom decs that don’t cost a million pounds on Etsy, this could be for you. Creating animals and birds from paper requires a lot of patience, even if you have a kit explaining what to do, but the results are seriously delightful. For inspiration (and to give your folding fingers a rest), read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.
Another hobby with Insta-appeal is calligraphy. The art of beautiful lettering is centuries old, but that doesn’t stop YouTube and Pinterest being great places to learn the basics – with some practice you’ll be able to use calligraphy to create beautiful art based on your favourite poems and quotes. Get started now and you could have Christmas 2017 sorted by summer. How smug?
If you already love binge watching…
One of my goals for the year is to become a minor expert in EastEnders. What? I figured it would be fun to develop my obsession with the soap into an actual hobby, so I’ve started connecting with other fans through Twitter and reading books about the show’s history. If you also love geeking out over new subjects, you could try taking your TV fandom to the next level. Join forums, learn about how it’s made, write fan fiction about your favourite characters. Clear a shelf for some hand-painted Game of Thrones figurines. However you want to let your geek flag fly.
Or, switch media – instead of binge watching, try binge reading. If there’s an author you really like, work your way through all of their back catalogue. Not sure where to begin? There are loads of recommendations out there: check out the Zoella Book Club or Goodreads. Don’t forget this is a cheap hobby! Your school or local library will house enough books for even the most dedicated binge reader, so get a sturdy bag and let your inner Belle run wild.
If you already love crafts…
Whether you’re used to using pins and needles or scissors and glue, if you like crafting then how about turning your hand to upcycling? Nothing to do with bikes or hills, promise. Upcycling is kind of like recycling, only the goal is to make the new item as good or if not even better than it was before. It’s an awesome way to personalise your clothes or your space, and fill grey Sunday afternoons in a way that won’t induce a parental nag-fest. Unless you get paint on the carpet.
Check out charity shops for small chests of drawers or an old mirror to paint. Rummage in your wardrobe for items that you’ve grown out of. Search for inspiration online (Pinterest is great for this, obviously). Mega upcycler Lili from Chicago told me that she is proud of herself for being able to reuse items – like the purses she’s recently made out of old shirts. She says, “It’s really nice to know that you are able to make something beautiful out of something that you don’t use anymore. You can easily make something really cool.”
If you already enjoy blogging…
There are so many hobbies to have a bash at if you like writing. Try going small scale and keep a one sentence diary – not as easy as it sounds. These can go on for YEARS, so you’re able to look back at memories that you might otherwise forget about (although in the case of your year seven crushes that might not be a good thing).
At the other end of the scale, experiment with making a fanzine. This is basically a small magazine that reflects your loves and passions. It could be about music, films, fashion, poetry, cheese toasties… anything. Join forces with friends to make it a sociable thing: work on one together, or all make your own and trade them. There’s a whole ‘zine scene out there of people swapping homemade mags, and you never know where it might lead. Sharmadean Reid started out with a fanzine that eventually led to her creating WAH Nails.
See, told you hobbies were cool.