You’ve baked your fifteenth load of banana bread, hit a wall on DuoLingo, and been tagged in so many 5k challenges that you’re planning a full-fledged marathon. As the lockdown rumbles, your patience is wearing thin and your thumbs are getting more twisted by the hour. What at first seemed like a golden opportunity to realize all the things you’ve been putting off, now slowly turns into a whirlwind mix of boredom, anxiety and restlessness…
If this sounds familiar, you’re definitely not alone. The world of lockdown can be fraught with pressure to succeed and stay productive, when the only hobby you really want to master is binge-watching Netflix. It’s time to slow down, change your mindset of isolation and settle into an activity that nurtures the mind and soul – we’ve drawn inspiration from cultures around the world to find the most calming activities in the planet, as well as the best online tutorials to master them yourself. You can thank us later. Maybe with a handmade wall hanging.
South American weaving
It is estimated that the Andeans first produced woven textiles around 10,000 BC, and the slow, methodical way of working with strands of color came to prominence across the continent, being used in everything from clothing for religious rituals. Today, the act of threading warp and weft is experiencing a real resurgence, with funky artwork produced by craft bloggers on Instagram and Pinterest at a knot pace. Besides its incredibly calming pace, this craft is wonderfully experimental, allowing you to truly lose yourself in its process.
You will need a small wooden loom, which you can easily find online. You will also need a selection of yarn and twine.
There are countless tutorials online for all kinds of weaves. For beginners, withwendy and Simply Handmade offer clear, easy-to-follow YouTube courses focused on trending and contemporary designs. We Are Knitters also offers a range of weaving tutorials on their IGTV.
You’ve no doubt been bombarded with information about how knitting is the perfect hobby to take up during lockdown – numerous studies have shown the massive benefits it can have, from helping with anxiety and depression to the reduction of chronic pain. There is definitely something about the steady rhythm of the needles and the texture of the yarns that soothes and calms a stressed mind. Faroese knitwear takes things a step further, with its signature patterns and intricate sweater designs that have recently made various Scandi drama series famous. The use of multiple strands of yarn creates a thick knit fabric, traditionally used to protect against the harsh weather conditions of the Faroe Islands, while the detailed designs are often inspired by the landscapes, flora and fauna of the islands.
You will need a few skeins of yarn of different colors and a pair of appropriately sized needles.
If you’re a complete beginner and want to try knitting, there are some fantastic resources online. Wool and the Gang are at the forefront of the contemporary knitting movement, pedaling chic designs and easy to understand patterns – they have a great collection of tutorials to get you started. If you want to try your hand at Faroese techniques, Faroeknit’s YouTube channel is a great place to start.
Dating back to the 7th century, Arabic calligraphy was used to unite the various countries of the Arabic-speaking world, as Islam prohibited the use of figures and pictorial renderings in art. The delicate, fluid movements of engraving the winding letters of the language are still thriving today, with cities across the United Arab Emirates leading the charge through annual exhibitions and artistic encounters. All you need is a pen to spend hours gently tracing those intricate letters – an ideal craft to pass the hours of lockdown and refocus the mind.
All you will need to try Arabic calligraphy is a fountain pen or calligraphy pen and ink, and paper.
Alhamdulillah Arts has super accessible step-by-step tutorials on its Arabic Calligraphy YouTube channel that are perfect for beginners.
It’s unlikely you’ve never encountered the precise Japanese art of origami before, but spending some time digging into this ancient craft will focus your thoughts and create an atmosphere of calm. The origins of origami are unclear, but it is widely believed that the technique originated as a result of Buddhist monks bringing paper to Japan in the 6th century. It is curious that such an outdated and, it must be said, not too functional contraption has survived thousands of years in the most technologically driven country. There just seems to be something about the systematic and meticulous way the paper is folded to create beautiful designs, that acts as a much-needed antidote to frenetic modern life.
A few sheets of paper. Specialty origami paper is readily available online, but the regular type works just fine.
Macrame, the art of tying knots to produce different visual and structural effects, dates back to many ancient civilizations, but the earliest conception of the craft is widely attributed to Arab weavers of the 13th century. It rose to prominence after spreading across Europe centuries later, becoming a common hobby for sailors and taking the design world by storm in Victorian England. Today, it is rare to see a contemporary interior design without an intricate macrame wall hanging in the background or an ornate potted plant rack cascading from the ceiling. And the process of the craft is just as appealing as its results, with its repetitive motions of knotting and threading having a real moment as part of the global wellness scene.
You’ll need a roll of fairly thick string or twine, and some space to hang it up while you work.
Online macrame tutorials are plentiful, but Modern Macrame has countless videos focused on trendy and chic projects.
The art of hand-stitching through layers of fabric to create beautiful quilts is believed to date back to the arrival of European settlers in America in the 1600s, sparking a love affair between the nation and the nation. craftsmanship that is still going strong today. This love is shown not only in bees and nationwide quilting shows that take place year-round, but more importantly in the thousands of localized quilting groups that come together to sew and chat, bonding at living in small communities. Using a simple needle and thread, the quilting process is slow and precise, yet incredibly satisfying and totally absorbing.
The equipment list for quilting is a bit longer than for some crafts, requiring a selection of fabric pieces, needle and thread, batting/batting, and binding tape.
If the idea of getting lost in a good old-fashioned collage sounds good to you, welcome to decoupage. Literally translated as “cutting,” this craft involves cutting and gluing shapes and designs onto various surfaces, from household items to furniture. The art originated in 17th century France, as a method of decorating bookcases and cabinets, and is now used by interior designers and craft bloggers around the world to brighten up and breathe new life. to almost anything you can imagine. The real beauty of cutting is its lack of precision; everything is crude, from the cutting to the placing of the papers. It’s a stress-free, low-effort craft that yields brilliant results every time.
A few decoupage papers (patterned napkins also work), decoupage paste, a brush, and some decorating stuff.
Hobby Lobby’s YouTube series will walk you through the slicing process step by step.