A Casual Guide to Getting Serious About a New Hobby


Photography by: Johnny Miller

Ask, “What’s it worth?” Let’s face it: No one wants to invest in top-of-the-line knitting needles before knowing so much as a stitch. Realistically, though, you may need to shell out a bit up front — and it’s best to figure out what you can spend before you’re facing a hypnotic yarn wall and sensory overload.


Set your standards — and boundaries. Make a list of essentials you’ll need to get started, and do some research online to get a feel for the costs. Set a budget — be it $25 or $250 — and adjust your overall expenses so you’re not tempted to cut corners. If equipment quality varies, you may want to opt for the simpler option; that said, cheap throwaways could bring more frustration than fun. Spend what you can to get what you need, and remember that you can always upgrade once you know for sure that you’d like this pastime to be a part of your future.


Photography by: NGOC MINH NGO

Get in the (literal) zone. Rolling up your sleeves is much more appealing when you’re not elbowing your neighbor. We can’t all swing a freestanding craft room, but can you call dibs on a corner of the garage, or convert part of your work space into a studio? Having a private place to make mistakes, stash supplies, and incubate half-finished projects will take the pressure off of each session — and you’ll gain momentum from physically sitting down to tackle something specific.


Make a monogamous date. Learning a new skill demands patience and focus. While you may eventually be able to swing a wild night with decoupage and DVR, you’ll first want to devote your undivided efforts to courting proper technique. Schedule a block on your calendar, as you would a meeting or playdate, and consider it just as unbreakable. The more often you do this, the quicker you’ll get in a rhythm — and the more automatic (and rewarding) it will become.


For instruction, moral support, and extra accountability, you can also look into group classes or clubs. Call your local community center for listings, or dig around online.


Swallow your pride. A famous Chinese proverb reads, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Similarly, you’ll never become a pro-level hobbyist without a few growing pains. And really, it doesn’t have to be a pain! Why are you doing this, anyway? For an outlet? For a challenge? For a profit? Any answer is fine, but having realistic expectations — and a sense of humor — about the first leg of your journey will keep your enthusiasm ahead of your defeat.


Here’s a crafty idea to get you started. How do you help a new hobby stick?