Saying goodbye to a hobby

dawnpSeptember 5, 2012

Gretchen Rubin, the author of the book "The Happiness Project" was on The Today Show today and brought up a point that was helpful to me.

She said that if you have a project hanging around or a hobby hanging around that you're just no longer interested in doing, that these things weigh you down mentally and that you should pass them on.

I am a crafter/scrap booker/sewer/tole painter... and have some unfinished projects and lots of unused supplies. I spent years doing Creative Memories scrapbooks for my kids but of course none of them are completely finished and my youngest is about to graduate high school. I am going to give this a reasonable period of time and then get rid of all the scrap booking stuff because it really does hang over my head. It's all still in my craft room and every time I walk by it I feel guilty. Yet, I always seem to find something else to do.

I also went through a phase where I was taking tole painting classes but haven't touched all those paints(200+ bottles) in years. I doubt I will ever go back to that hobby. I think it's time to pass on all but the most basic colors.

This could apply to anything you're no longer doing like a sport, cooking, whatever.

She "gave me permission" to get this extra clutter out of my home guilt free.

Do any of you hang on to old hobby/interest stuff "just in case"?

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Oh, I did this! For the same reason. I realized that holding on to all the fabric was me holding on to my identity as a sewer. And that it was OK to not be a sewer for a little while. That it didn't have to be a *PERMANENT* re-identification of myself.

So I got rid of my fabric stash. It was very, very freeing.

AND I got rid of half-sewn garments--and she was right, they were weighing me down. Every time I saw them, I felt guilty. Now they're gone, and I don't even remember what they were.

Of course, I've built up a bunch of fabric again (freebies not needed at work). But I will feel free to ditch them later.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 7:17AM
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Oh yes. I haven't made it to the "craft closet" yet. But that will be a huge challenge. There will be painting supplies, cross stitching supplies, sewing supplies, jewelry making supplies, and dollhouse miniatures, and probably more stuff that I've forgotten about. I don't know if I will be able to part with most of it. Maybe I will do better if I tell myself I can keep 2/3rds of it or something.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 8:05PM
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My best friend's mother passed away 2 years ago, leaving behind a huge amount of fabric and craft supplies. The woman was a crafter and home sewer. My friend found old Butterick and McCall's patterns back to the 1930's, which would have been her own Grandmother's, not even the mother's. My friend went through everything, threw out probably 75% or more, kept a few good wools for herself for sewing (yes, of course, my friend sews). Sorry so much went in a landfill, but that's what happens.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 8:03AM
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I'm de-cluttering as I'm packing for an upcoming move. I'm not getting rid of everything craft-wise, but I'm paring it down to what I "LOVE" and getting rid of the rest. I donated a whole bunch of paints, rubberstamp stuff, lots of fabric that I didn't love anymore, embroidery stuff.

The first discard is the hardest, then it gets easier. It feels good to get rid of that physical, and mental, weight.

I kept just enough to make a few projects I've had percolating in my brain.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 4:07PM
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I don't think one appreciates how freeing this can be until they experience it first hand. I didn't until I gave up the half sewn together flannel nightgowns for my 3 and 4 year old nieces, now in their 30's.

Seven years ago I became very enthused about African violets, and built up a huge collection. Last year I thinned out prior to a two month trip that extended to 6 months. When I returned, they seemed to shout at me "man, have you got a lot of work to do here". Then in March I had to leave them again in the care of my dear friend. I finally told her to let them go, I had taken advantage of her for far too long. She 'liquididated' the collection. I was able to return home for 2 days a couple of weeks ago. When I walked into the house, it was a relief not to see all those plants telling me how much behind I was in grooming, repotting, etc.

So, yeah, LET IT GO!


    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 4:14PM
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I did this with cross stitch supplies and patterns a few years ago. Finally realized I was never going to get to all the saved patterns. Had completed many projects in the past and that was enough!

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 10:53PM
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Thank you all for this bit of moral support. I plan on getting back to my decluttering project tomorrow and your words have been a big help.
On a side note, it reminds me of a magnet someone had given my grandmother, who was a terrific seamstress, but notorious fabric hoarder. It said " she who dies with the most fabric, wins."

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 11:40PM
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Jannie - You mentioned your friend throwing out all that stuff. Yes, that is what happens. That's one of the reasons why I want to get my "things" cleaned out myself. Then, they have a better chance of getting to someone who can use them.

SunnyAcres - Congrats on your success! Moving is a great motivator. We have no immediate plans to move but I know the day will come and it will make it easier to move if I do the paring down now. I have a big attic craft space and have collected way too much stuff. How overwhelming it would be to have to go through it all at the same time of a move. Also, I am sure we will move into a smaller home as my kids are in college now and will be moving on with their lives. The idea of moving all my stuff really is what is motivating me. Good luck with your move!
Bspofford - I had to laugh when you mentioned your grown nieces unfinished nightgowns! I still have a Giant Raggedy Ann doll(unfinished) that I made for my niece when she was 3 and now she's 23! Silly! Thanks for the encouragement that letting things go is freeing.

Thanks everyone. I'm glad I'm not alone and appreciate the discussion!


    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 8:47AM
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Scrapbooks are so much easier to do the Shutterfly, etc., way. There's still a degree of creativity in those (there are different levels of "custom" you can do, or you can push a button that just splashes the photos on pages at random automatically). I know it's fun using all those little clip-art kind of things and 3-dimensional thingies that the crafts stores and scrapbooking stores sell -- I have just one book I did like that, for a dog I had who died a few years ago. But you might think of doing it the photo-book way, if you can, to meet your graduation deadline!

About 10 years ago, I sold some metalworking tools (from a few jewelry classes I took) on eBay after I lost the excitement of doing it and moved away from the city where I was taking the classes. I was glad that they'd be going to someone who could really use them. I really hate to think of my relatives throwing things in the trash nilly-willy, but I admit it'd take time and effort to sell any little crafting supplies or fabric, for example -- but my quilting books? I wrote in my "final requests" letter that they'd better try to sell them somehow! Well, I guess in the end I'd even be happy if they donated them to the library instead of putting them in a box on the curb on recycling day!

I think the "giving yourself permission" line of thinking pushed me to get rid of clothes that I eventually came to think of as the "what in the world were you thinking?" items. Sometimes you remember only how expensive a pair of shoes was (even tho now they hurt your toes) or how you had to go to 10 stores to find that dress.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 6:23PM
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I gave up knitting and crochet due to the arthritis in my hands. All my supplies went to a knitting friend and I feel so much better.

Now, I want to get rid of my mother's fabric stash. I don't sew, but I don't want to just throw it out. Any ideas on where it could go to be useful?

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 8:21PM
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Hi Homemaker and welcome!

I see that you are in Canada. Do you have Freecycle there? You could post it there. Also, there's Craigslist.

What type of fabric is it? For cotton quilting fabric, I am sure a charity quilting group would really appreciate it. You could probably search one up online. Older fabrics are wonderful and I'm sure someone will put them to good use even if you donate them to Goodwill.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2012 at 10:25PM
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Schools will often take donations of yarn and fabric. The kids will use them in art class for collages and stuff. A friend gave me her stash of "baby" (thin) yarn years ago. It sat unused in my attic for years, then I called my local elementary school and they said they could use it. the kids use yarn and fabric in art class for collages and other projects. But books are hard to donate-I called my library and they said no, they didn't want donations of books. And I know it's true. I was parking at my library and saw a library employee emptying the overnight book drop of dozens of donated books. He simply hauled them to a dumpster in the back. I asked what he was doing and he explained. He also told me to take anything I wanted. I got 2 hockey books for hubby and "The Help" for myself.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 4:58PM
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Not all libraries dump donated books. Ours sells them for 25 cents to $1 and the money goes for special projects for the library. If your library dumps them try a senior center if they are novels. Look for clubs or classes that specialize in your craft. They will often take craft books and supplies to be used by the club or given to students. It's better than throwing them in the garbage.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 3:56AM
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I think stores like Joanns and Michaels sell crafting hard and fast, relentlessly appealing to our inner Martha Stewarts or fashion-designer wannabees, and this is a terrible thing. While it is very satisfying and good to craft something yourself, an industry has built up around stuffing supplies down our throats. It is so easy to spend a great deal of money and a tremendous amount of time "crafting," but not have anything worthwhile to show for it. I see a lot of people spending more time on their hobbies than on their family relationships. Thankfully we live in a time where it's often cheaper to buy ordinary things than make them on for ourselves. But of course, there are times and places where this is not the case, such as creating things for weddings or other important events.

I regret the hobbies that I have pursued. A waste of time, money, and energy. It would have been better to invest that time and money in my health, my children, etc. It is foolish to think that having a hobby is important. It's nice, but should never be a priority unless it builds friendships along the way. Happy memories trump hobbies, hobbies seem so dead-end to me now. I think that cooking and baking are an exception to this since food is such a social thing. I am struggling with letting go of the remains of faded hobbies and am grateful for this thread's encouragement to say good-bye to the things I no longer need and certainly should pass on. Finally, there are so many needs in our world, so many suffering people, it seems profoundly self-indulgent to spend time and money on myself in this way.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 9:44AM
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I've sold a ton of fabric on Craig's List over the last month.
My mom moved and in clearing our her attic I found bags and bags of fabric that had been put away for projects or saved for quilts- by her mother.
Honestly- much of the stuff was 50 years old.

My mom could not bear to throw it away so gave it to me to dispose of in any manner I wanted. I put it on Craig's List a bag at a time for $20 or $30- just enough to make it worth my time to meet someone. They all went very quickly even though I made it very clear that I had no idea what sorts of fabrics or size pieces were in there and wasn't about to go digging through them to find out.

It took very little time, kept the stuff out of the landfill, and netted me some mad money, so win/win.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 12:28PM
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Cupofkindness, That seems kind of harsh. While I understand that hobbies often run their course, and we often lose interest in them, I don't think you could call it self-indulgence. It's really all about having balance in your life. While you wouldn't put your hobby above your health or your children, neither can you devote your every waking thought to those things either. Now, if you are the type of person who gets obsessed over a hobby, to the exclusion of everything else, then yes, you should probably stay clear of them. But for most of us crafting, or sewing is no different than golfing, or reading, or singing in the church choir. It's a way of expressing ourselves, and enjoying ourselves, and I think it is important for all of us to have some kind of outside interests in our lives.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 7:15PM
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Tripletmom - You said that perfectly.

Cupofkindness - I'm sorry that you regret your hobbies.

Sewing has probably been my favorite hobby over my lifetime and I thank my lucky stars that I learned how to do it. It has been so useful and a also sense of pride for me. I could never regret that.

Like everything else, it's about balance.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 11:38AM
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Do it! It will be very liberating.

I do still struggle with this issue, because it isn't just a one-time thing--it's ongoing, like decluttering, as you change your interests and life changes take place and so on.

One thing that helped me was to take a few moments to review some of the things (hobbies, activities, even less clearly defined things) that I do or like to do, that might require some "stuff" and see if I could identify what I'd like to be doing more of. Then you have a positive focus on how you are making room for the supplies AND the time you might need for that. Usually I could see that other stuff was a hindrance to doing the thing I really wanted to do more or better. That might be not just what you think of as a hobby, but exercise, having people over, going to interesting lectures, writing thank you notes, taking food to someone from church--anything.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 12:17PM
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I found it so freeing to let go of hobbies. I gave away my cross stitch supplies, fabric, scrapbook supplies. I realized I didn't really enjoy doing most of the hobbies I spent hours doing. I do like to see but can't fit it in right now. Getting rid of the fabric felt great. I kept my embroidery floss and several stamped pillow cases. I realized I love to do embroidery (not cross stitch). I do love to make pillow cases and use them on my bed. It makes me feel good to use petty things I've made.

My new hobby is home remodeling. I recently got divorced and kept the house. I'm remodeling on a shoestring budget. My dad is a custom home builder so I was raised on the job site. What I don't know how to do or can't figure out, I call him to help. I love it and the $ I spend adds value to my house. All the 1000s I spent on craft supplies over the years was just a waste.

I also know now unused crafting as my escape from my unhappy marriage. Now that is over and I am sooooo happy, I don't feel compelled to have five craft projects going at once any longer!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 5:37AM
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I forgot to add - I agree with Cupofkindness about Joann's and Michaels, etc. I think these stores promote indescriminate buying. Even hoarding! I have a friend that has a room in her house with thousands of dollars worth of craft supplies. The entire room is stacked floor to ceiling with supplies. She just buys supplies with no plan of how she'll use them.

I have cherished memories of going to Piece Goods with my mom when I was a very young girl. A couple of times a year she would go, pick out a pattern, pick out the fabric and notions. She would leave the store with everything she needed for that one project. She would sew the dress and not buy anything more until that dress was finished. I thought that was how everyone did it!

I didn't run into anyone who just buys fabric or craft supplies with no plan until I was out of college. Now that seems to be the norm. Crafting seems to equal hoarding now, and having $1000s tied up in supplies that are just sitting there not bein used. Call me old fashioned, but this seems so wasteful to me!

Now a Michael's store is being built in the shopping center that's about 1/4 mile from my house. I'm so glad I "woke up" to this before the store opens!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 10:22AM
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This is my first visit to this board, and OMG does this 1st thread I'm reading speak to me!

mamabird, I'm also remodeling, courtesy of a house fire and divorce. Unlike you, though, I'm teaching myself. Luckily (or so) my STBX was a GC and walked away leaving his tools. When he couldn't find something, he'd just buy another so I have more than most hardware stores. His penchant for just buying more left me with most of the wiring, outlets, wood, drywall, plumbing materials, etc., you name it. Thank goodness, because I'm a yoga teacher and waitress.

It's become my new hobby to stalk reuse centers. I'm building my cabinets, refinish doors, laying patios, and all kinds of things myself. I have to make myself stop buying cabinets, and have Freecycled many (at $5.00 each, donating them isn't bad) when I've found a better cabinet. Or I've returned them to be resold at the reuse centers. Doors, molding, all kinds of crazy stuff.

I am/was a quilter. After a fire and the return of things from the restoration people, I gave away (Freecycle) bags and bags and bags of fabric that I loved, but wouldn't use.

The fabric ended up with a woman who was spirited away from an abusive relationship in Kansas, with her teenage son. The husband had the graves dug and lime purchased in the back yard. She came via Mexico City, Miami, and Atlanta pretty much in her pajamas. She cried, because she'd left her quilting behind and I had many of the fabrics she'd been working on.

I kept some of the fabrics thinking someday I really should put up some curtains -- and thread. I've kept thread. A few projects where I love the fabric remain in clear plastic boxes to haunt me. You never know.

I got into computers 20 years ago. After the fire I gave away boxes and boxes of hardware. Hard drives, cables, connectors, network cards, speakers, sound cards, actual computers, TONS of software. I still occasionally take a donated computer, cannibalize someone else's and donate it back to charity.

I gave away 360 boxes of restored books. In collections. The son mentioned above got a 17 book collection of Stephan King. A Czech immigrant took all my grandfather's ragingly conservative political commentaries. I mentioned how conservative they were and he, in a very deep, Bullwinkle voice, said, "I like dat."

A few months ago I gave away all my cross stitch materials. Patterns, thread, hoops, etc. My friend was in heaven and it looked like Christmas.

I'm working on sorting out jewelery making supplies. Beads are one thing to give away, but all the silver Indonesian, Balinese, Indian and Karen Hill silver I'm going to try to make myself sell on eBay.

I will photo and sell some of the antique quilts I collected. (This thread is killing me when I think about all this!)

Something to mention to those of you who just trash things. After this fire I keep mentioning, instead of giving on Freecycle, I asked. I put out a "Wanted/needed" for dog and cat supplies. People came out of the woodwork to help us. Food, litter, bowls, kennels, offers to board, even money to our $17000.00 vet bill.

You never know what you have lying around, maybe too good to throw away, that will change someone's life or heart. Those old hobbys could still be someone's love. Even collectors of vintage fabric and patterns! Believe it or not, there is a market for the both of those, even if you want to sell them.

So there's only some of my anchors and balloons that weigh me down and lift me up.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 10:40AM
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CEFreeman, welcome!!

How nice to have you on the board.

And be sure to share with us your triumphs, and even your struggles. I learn so much from people when they tell us what they're working on.

I love the idea of the reuse center.

And I do actually sort of agree with cup and with mommabird. Hobbies CAN divert our energies away from more lasting things. Our homes, where we may need repair or improvement; our families and relationships; charities that could use some help.

Hobbies, I think, are essentially self-centered. Even when they produce things people can use.

I don't think that's all bad.

But I do have a hard spot in my heart for more scrapbooking--I think that the really doo-dadded up scrapbook pages are all about the maker and not really about the memory or the viewer. Not the most horrible thing, but still not the most productive and growth-inducing either.

A woman I work with recently said something about "those things [on the Internet] that don't really add value to our lives." I've taken to pondering that.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 3:19AM
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I think I read that line, too.
"value" is sometimes difficult to determine.

My DH was wallowing in depression, and I was fighting my own (I now realize) after the death of both his parents, that house fire where we lost 3 cats and his mom's Golden, and he threw himself into work. Little did I know it became other than work, but that's another whine.

I threw myself into my landscaping 2 of our 6.5 acres. It became something I did from sun up to sun down. Did it add value? Well, as far as real estate? Yes. To my life? At the time. I was so intense I didn't think about anything else during work time. It gave me something else to think about than my constant concern and helplessness about my DH. So in that respect, it added value. Probably kept me sane, the value of which is questionable!

I always thought the same of scrapbooking. It would tell a child where their giver's head was about the subject, but really not much about themselves. There are many hobbies like that. Quilting, I've always felt could be generational. It's also a hobby, like knitting or sewing, that is a useful hobby. It's how we let them run our lives, attention, and yes, $$.

But I'm glad to give these things away to people who will use them -- or at least love them! The value for me is the space and release of self-imposed guilt!

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 9:09AM
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You make a really good point about "value"--it needn't be tangible, that's definite.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2012 at 11:49AM
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This is a good opportunity to mention Quilts for Kids, Inc. This nonprofit organization exists to make and donate colorful quilts to children with serious illness, injury and child-victims domestic violence. 100% volunteer labor goes into these comfort quilts that are given locally to agencies chosen by the quilters themselves. My chapter gives to our county hospital's NICU, PICU and Burn Unit plus children living with their mothers in a shelter for victims of domestic violence. (Quilts sent to the headquarters in Pennsylvania are given to recipients chosen by the HQ.) We need previously unused 100% quilting-weight cotton. Kid-friendly patterns and bright solids are especially needed. To donate, please visit this site to find a chapter near you.

If you are looking for a quilting group to join, do something great for a child and meet like-minded quilters, you are sure to find a warm welcome.

Here is a link that might be useful: Quilts for Kids

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 1:27PM
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I'm new to this board as well. I am looking for ideas to downsize our stuff. It is so hard. I tend to want to save DD's too small dress for a cousin who lives an hour away and won't fit into it for 4 years. I pile, bag, save things only to find that recipients are overwhelmed with things and are not always willing to take on stuff they might need in a few years. It's a NOW world.

Anyway, I feel I am always in put away / tidy mode and I can't progress to actual cleaning. I spray a little windex, throw down comet in the bathroom, laundy, cook, and dishes and that's about it. My swifter wet jet is a godsend. 24 hours in a day and 100 hours of chores to do.

As for hobbies, I think they are very worthwhile (even though I don't have much time now for my top 10, or even top 3 thanks to full time job and mother to 2 busy gals). I gave up one craft that I very much enjoyed because I found it tiresome to constantly have to hunt down materials to make a new project exactly like the one I made last year. Also, I often spent alot more $ on my craft project than I could have bought a ready made for. Granted, I would have some extra materials, but not enough, so the buying cycle continued.

I have noticed that people without hobbies, whether its music, exercise, art, crafts, wood work, genealogy, etc. are bored people and this multiplies as you age. So often, I see people who could easily retire continue to work just so they'll have something to do. I think that's sad.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 10:57AM
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Lots to think about here. I was really relieved when I gave away my sewing machine. I have arthritis in my thumbs and I just cannot sew anymore. It was hard because I found it relaxing when the kids were little. Now I am in a new stage of life, have a secure but demanding job, and I relax with a good book.

You have inspired me to head to the cellar and make a trip to the Salvation Army and give them the stuff I still like but won't ever get to. Letting go is good. Thank you, all!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 6:05PM
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Letting go of the STUFF of crafts I don't enjoy any more is also making room in my life for a new craft ( other than working on my house). I used to love to make moasiacs when I was a teen. I haven't done it for decades. I've decided to start doing moasiacs again. I'm starting with a plaque for the house #, to hang on the front of my house. I'm trying 'broken dishes' moasiacs where you use broken plates instead of tiles. So far, I've cut out the plywood, traced on the numbers and combed thrift stores for plates of the right colors. I almos have enough dishes. It's been fun hinting for the right plates and I've only spent about $10. I'm using a scrap of plywood I had on hand. I do have to buy waterproof glue and grout.

If I were still weighed down with other crafts, I would never have even thought of taking this up again. I'm glad I did.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 8:56PM
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I wish I had travelled rather than waste my money on hobbies and crafts. I wish I had taken a walk outdoors rather than walked the aisles of places like JoAnns or Michaels.

I wish I had sat down with my children and focused on their interests and creative urges rather than indulge my own, all in the name of "deserving" a creative outlet.

At the end of my life, no one will care about the do-dads I made but will remember the ways that I helped them.

It saddens me that women get duped into trivial things like hobbies. Women can do so much more. Helping people who live in despair, for example. Children across the globe need profound help. And in the US too.

Glad to hear of those who are renovating their homes, now that is a productive use of creative energy. Amazing!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2012 at 5:24PM
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This isn't quite the same thing, but a couple years ago my closet was over-stuffed with clothes that I can no longer wear. I'm not the same size I was before I had children, yet I wasn't willing to get rid of things I'd enjoyed wearing and things that had been expensive. If they'd been wildly too small, I could've said goodbye more easily . . . but they're only 1-2 sizes too small, so I constantly told myself, "If I really tried, I could be back in them in no time."

So I packed up the things I can't wear and put them into a box (stored on the top shelf of my closet) and wrote the date. I told myself that IN ONE YEAR I would either take the clothes out and wear them . . . or I would give them to the Salvation Army without opening the boxes.

When a year passed, I realized that I hadn't lost weight, and I also couldn't even remember what clothing I'd packed away -- evidence that those things weren't quite as precious as I'd imagined. I gave them away.

Realistically I know that even if I did get back to those sizes, the clothes were going farther and farther out of style, and every passing year meant a smaller and smaller chance that I'd wear them. I teach at a different school, so I no longer needed the large number of items in my old school colors -- but every time I tried to just throw them out, reason stepped in and stopped me. Handling them this way was easier for me than just cleaning out the closet.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2012 at 9:45PM
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My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was 10 and I've made a lot of scarves and blankets over the years. When she passed on she had 3 plastic bins full of yarn. I made myself take them home, promising to make afghans out of all of it. 5 years later I realized I would never get to it and they were taking up a lot of room in my closet. I called local yarn stores and asked if they knew places that would take donations. One of the stores said they'd be happy to take it all - they had a program where high school students went there after school and knitted/crocheted blankets for kids in homeless and domestic violence shelters. It felt good knowing the supplies would be used for a good cause.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 8:59PM
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