My “Hobby” or How I Failed at Being a “Maker”

They can make a floral arrangement out of ribbon, burlap, and buttons. Another knits stuffed animals for their kids. That person makes jellies and jam. Their home is amazing and they decorated it themselves. They make cookies with the most amazing frosting decorations. You know them, maybe you are them. I, am not them.

I have aspirations of a table with watercolors (not in the plastic tray), pastels, Prismacolor markers, sketchbooks, and a whimsical twee watercolor of a little girl being blown by the wind giggling the whole time. My mom has this set-up with this exact little girl in watercolor she created. Also, if you are going to use the word twee this is the time.

I mean, I can color with a crayon with the best of them but ask me to blend those colors and I’m out. One of my college roommates even taught me how to crochet (or knit? The one with one needle, not two) when we were over in the UK one summer. Apparently, what starts in Brighton, stays in Brighton. Once we got home I didn’t touch my blanket again.

And I did!
Photo by rocknwool on Unsplash

Everyone can find a hobby at Hobby Lobby!

When Matt and I were in the early days of being married, I decided that I needed a hobby. Matt is an illustrator, my friend Molly was a photographer and made dolls, other friends were all crafty with crafty things, and I was feeling really pathetic. I have a graphic design and marketing degree and I felt like a fraud if I couldn’t use those skills personally as well as professionally.

I sat there pondering what to do as a “hobby” and where one even went to find a hobby. My solution was to walk through Michaels and “find a hobby.” If these people hung out at Michaels all of the time, surely there would be a hobby for me. We ventured to Michaels, walked around, and right back out. I was not going to arrange fake flowers, paint wooden boxes, weave a carpet, or scrapbook. That just didn’t feel like me.

We went to Hobby Lobby. Clearly, this was the first place I should’ve gone. Clearly, if there was a hobby that felt like me, it would be here. It wasn’t. I was hobby-less. Even a store with H-O-B-B-Y in the title couldn’t fill the hobby shaped hole in my heart.

I was actually a bit embarrassed I couldn’t find something that I wanted to make. I love reading but I didn’t feel like that was a hobby. I decided that I would be okay with who I was and not force the issue, even if it felt like I wasn’t living up to some unspoken rule of life.

Let’s try this again with more feeling!

Photo by Charlie Solorzano on Unsplash

We all know social media is a double-edged sword. You love it and hate it all at the same time. I was actually just talking to my husband about this last night. He stopped social cold turkey because he was feeling like he wasn’t living up to his expectations and didn’t need to see everyone living their “best lives” even if it wasn’t all based in reality. It is so easy to fall into that comparison game. I’ve recently caught myself doing it but from a slightly different perspective and was surprised how deeply it’s been impacting me.

Not long after my first daughter, Georgia, was born. I fell back into the “I need a hobby” trap. Hobby trends had changed and it was now all about the makers in the world and living that Etsy life. I had friends who were knitting or crocheting (I have zero ideas on how those are different) stuffed animals and dolls for their babies. “I can do that! That’s amazing!” I thought to myself. Now, to be clear, I was sleep deprived and obviously not thinking clearly. To be a good mom though I thought I had to craft this doll out of yarn that she would hug, and squeeze, and love forever.

Amigurumi is adorable. What’s that? You’ve never heard of it? Neither had I but all of the stuffed creatures I loved were made in this style/technique/form of torture. I knew that I could do this. This was the missing link!

I searched for the kind of doll I would make. I found the most adorable pattern, bought it on Etsy, and ventured out to my former nemesis: Michaels* for yarn.

Armed with little sleep, crochet/knitting needles, fluff for the inside of the doll, a book of instructions on stitches, and yarn, I sat down to create the treasure of my daughter’s childhood. Have I mentioned that I suffer from putting too much pressure on my ideal world? Truth.

One of the added benefits (and maybe the reason for loving this style) was the starting stitch called, “The Magic Circle.” In the UK there is a series of roundabouts in Swindon, England with the same name. When I lived over there, my friend Naomi took me one day when we were close by. It is magic in that there are seven roundabouts all connected in a magic (aka crazy) way. The pure fact that my chosen hobby had a magic circle told me this was the missing link. This was going to work.

It didn’t. I couldn’t create the first basic stitch that all other stitches would build off of. Between post-partum depression and sleep deprivation, I felt this fail way more than I should’ve.

Older means wiser…right?

As I write this, I’m going to turn 40 in a few short months. I know myself better now and can recognize when I’m being a little uppity in my own head. I mean, if you have a hobby that means you make something. If I make it, what would I even do with it? With two girls at home, we have arts and crafts for days! I don’t need to make something. Plus, I’ve been blogging. Writing is a hobby. I was fulfilled…try again.

For my mom’s birthday this year, I wanted to make her something. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s my Instagram feed filled with The Great British Bake-off creations, friends embroidering cool things, and makers making their things. So there I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw this article on Bored Panda. Gone was the idea that embroidery was for the pioneer days, this was amazing.

Somehow I got it into my head that I needed to make my mom something like this. Now, by like this I clearly don’t mean that. I can’t expect to go from 0 to 90 two weeks before my mom’s birthday. I found this amazing site called Cozy Blue Handmade and fell in love. I could do this. I ordered the kit and a few days before my mom’s birthday I began…

I’m not done yet and her birthday was three weeks ago. I’m still working on it though! I didn’t know this would take so long, it looks so simple.

My Instagram brag. I did pull a thumb muscle. Not even kidding.

In closing

I love the embroidery process. It’s actually been very therapeutic. I can think while I stitch, try not to curse when I have to redo something, feel like an old lady when I don’t have enough light (turning 40 in May, folks!), and try not to swear when I stick myself with the needle or make a knot without meaning too. I still have the problem of what I do with it when I’m done. Luckily this is for my mom so that isn’t a problem now, but what if I want to do this again? Oh! Mother’s Day is coming up. I’d better start now. Well, after I finish this for mom. Maybe it’s a dual holiday gift? I don’t think she thinks I’ll actually finish this anyway so there is the element of surprise… I guess watch this space. Maybe this is my “hobby?”

*To be clear, Michaels wasn’t the problem. They are one of my former clients and have great stuff. I’ve since made peace with the mecca of crafty things.

Heading Image by Vladimir Proskurovskiy on Unsplash

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