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Reading vs. Sewing (and other thoughts on hobbies)

June 20, 2008

Whew-I’m exhausted after that marathon of a reviewing week! Good thing I loved all my Once Upon a Time picks, huh? It wouldn’t have been much fun if I had to post angry, negative reviews back to back. :)

When I did the summer goals meme Debi tagged me for, you might have noticed that I included learning to sew. I bought a great book (S.E.W.: Sew Everything Workshop), I’ve checked another couple books out from the library, and now that my sewing machine has decided we’re friends (I neglected it for so long that my mom had to beat it into shape a couple of times before it started working smoothly!), I’ve become mildly addicted to sewing. Most of sewing is in the preperation: you have to iron everything (I just bought myself a great stainless steel iron yesterday, because my dad uses starch so his was stained and smelled bad and kept ruining my practice fabric), you have to cut out patterns, you have to pin them and make sure all the markings get transferred. Oddly enough, I find this incredibly soothing.

I\'m in love!I made a little clutch purse at first (based on Bend the Rules Sewing-its clutch happens to be on the cover, so I’ve included it for comparison in the picture…notice how it seems huge in their photo), which is not a book I’d recommend): it turned out to be more the size of a clutch wallet, but here it is! (Please ignore the seam-puckering: I had had to rip out so many seams for this project, that at that point I just didn’t care anymore) Do you see the button? As soon as I saw them (it came with two) at JoAnn’s, I knew I had to have them, even if they weren’t as big as on the clutch in the book. So I ended up using heavy-duty snaps instead of an elastic tie, and making the button purely decorative. Wanna see a close up? Isn’t she just the cutest?!

I want to Be this button, lol.  It might become my new icon!Wow: see how rambly I got?! It’s addictive! But sewing is also a major time suck: I’ll look up, and suddenly three hours have passed. Especially since I hope to get a new job anyday now (*crosses fingers*), I’m going to have to strike a balance between sewing and reading (the nice thing is, I can listen to audiobooks as I sew! I’ve been racing through them!). So I thought I’d do a little pro’s and con’s list, just for fun!

Well, sewing gets one point for letting me unleash my inner creative spirit (aka designer): I can pick the fabrics, the patterns, and plan cute modifications. Reading gets one point for bringing me to new worlds, and introducing me to ‘people’ I’d never have met otherwise. Sewing gets one point for leaving me with tangible results: I can sashay down the street in my dress when I’m done! Reading gets one point for making me smarter (hehe). Sewing gets one point for all of the fun accoutrements to buy (dress-making form, anyone? maybe this should be a negative point, lol). Reading gets one point for portability: much easier to carry around a book than a sewing machine! Uh-oh: looks like I might have a tie. Let’s see if I can come up with a breaker: well, they both need electricity (I attempted to read by candlelight last year, when we had three hours hotice that our electricity would be turned off for the night: I ended up having to lay in the bathtub, with candles all around me, for it to work), so that’s a wash. And I love my book blogging community to death, but there are a bunch of sewing blogs out there too, so I could hypothetically do both (funnily enough, the way that book bloggers have TBR lists piles, sewing bloggers have patterns they’ve never used and out-of-control material ‘stashes’…must just be in human nature to dream big!). But oh! I have one!

Reading gets a million, bajillion points for not requiring bobbins, the threading and loading of which have made me life mildly miserable so far! Whew: otherwise I’d have to turn this into a sewing blog and actually upholster that striped armchair. ;) (P.S.: if I hadn’t wanted to rail against bobbins, my fellow book bloggers would have totally been the tie breaker! And free books, and meeting with authors, and…well, let’s just say sewing’s not challenging reading’s place in my heart anytime soon).

More seriously, I know lots of you have other hobbies that you love as well! Do you find it easy or difficult to strike a balance? Do you find yourself cycling between them all? And why aren’t there enough hours in the day?

21 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2008 9:05 am

    The two hobbies I have that take away from reading are dog agility and Timberwolves Basketball. Wolves are on summer break, so we’re good to go! Both of those, however, operate on a schedule, so when they’re not scheduled, I read! And if I don’t have enough time to read, I get real, real hard to live with. ;-)

    Have a great weekend, Eva!
    Lezlie

  2. June 20, 2008 12:00 pm

    Hi Eva,

    I’ve been lurking on your blog for awhile but I just had to comment on this post, because I love to read and I enjoy sewing (along with about 10 million other potential hobbies). Your comments about much of sewing being in the preparation is exactly what I noticed the most when I started teaching myself to sew. And it’s funny how all those somewhat tedious tasks (my husband watched me sew and thought it looked painfully tedious) can be relaxing and take your mind off things and fun. I also love to go to the fabric/craft store and pick out all the fabrics and decorations and crafts for a new project :)

    Reading is probably my top activity (other than work, alas), but I do have so many other interests (sewing, bicycling, baking, horseback riding, singing, peace and nonviolence, just to name a few) and it is very hard to find time for them all. I recently read a wonderful book about the problem of too many interests called The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One, by Margaret Lobenstine. I highly recommend it if the title sounds like it describes you! I haven’t reviewed it yet on my blog but I’ll get to it one of these days :) One of the suggestions in the book is in fact to “cycle” through interests – to pick 3 or 4 things that you want to focus on right now, and then allow those interests to change in 6 months or 6 years or whenever you feel ready to switch. This is definitely the sort of pattern I follow – I haven’t done any sewing in almost a year but I’ve been doing other things that are just as interesting to me in their own way. And I’m sure I’ll come back to sewing at some point.

    Anyway, sorry for the rather long comment – I’ve been thinking about these things a lot recently. Enjoy your reading and sewing!
    -Sarah

  3. June 20, 2008 12:10 pm

    Oh, I can sooooo relate to this. My other addiction is knitting. I’ve tried doing the audio books while I knit, but I just can’t seem to get into them. I wish I could. I’ll probably try one again in the future. My knitting comes in spurts. I’ll be totally addicted for a while, carrying it with me everywhere and then not touch it for a couple of weeks. When I’m in one of my knitting moods, I do feel torn between knitting and books. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to do all the things I want to do. But, I never quit reading even when I’m knitting. I always find time to read.

  4. Molly permalink
    June 20, 2008 12:22 pm

    Hi,

    I am reading the Pandora Prescription by James Sheridan and I was curious if you have ever read it? Also, have you heard about this?

    -Molly

  5. June 20, 2008 1:24 pm

    Hobbies? What are those? Between working, reading, fooling around with my pets and contemplating my navel, my days are totally shot.

    That clutch is cute, Eva. A possible new job, hmm? Good luck!

  6. June 20, 2008 3:50 pm

    Yes, definitely. Sewing = soothing, but also crazy-making. I just finished a patchwork quilt for my friend who just had a baby, and I’m ready to pack up the old machine and throw her into storage for the summer.

    Good for you for learning a new skill!

  7. June 20, 2008 6:04 pm

    Wow, Eva…you did a wonderful job on your first sewing project! I’m very impressed! I love to sew, too, but haven’t done much lately except for the bed I made our dog last Christmastime. I used to sew quite a bit though. Oh, and worked in a fabric store for a few years…you can imagine how dangerous that was!

    These days aside from reading, my biggest passion is scrapbooking, but I can’t even seem to find any time for that. Maybe I should say lesson planning is my hobby, as that seems to be where all my time goes. ;)

  8. June 21, 2008 11:50 am

    I used to crossstitch a lot, but I’ve been reading and reviewing so much that I have almost given up the hobby! I have heard others say they listen to books on tape/iPod while they sew/crossstitch – I need to give it a try.

    I’m not seamstress (as in, I’ve never touched a sewing machine in my life), but I think your clutch purse looks great! Nice job.

  9. June 21, 2008 12:02 pm

    Ooh, a question to ramble on answering! Knitting, blogging, hiking, etc. are hobbies for me. Reading is a lifestyle. There’s no way any other hobby will ever challenge reading because (since I had a chaotic childhood) reading has been the one constant throughout all my life, or at least since I learned to read. I’ve never gone a day without reading a book for at least a short while, except days I spent in labor or having surgery, maybe. The only hobbies that come even close to reading are writing and listening to music.

    But I do cycle through other hobbies. I haven’t made any dolls since I learned to knit. But I know I’ll get back to dolls. I’ve stopped dolls for a year in the past, and always gone back. Gardening is another thing I cycle through. Depending on where I’m living, I either garden like a maniac, out there weeding and watering every day without fail, or I have a pot of lavender on the porch and some houseplants and that’s it. Exercise hobbies vary, too, depending on what resources are available. If I moved to a city, I’m sure I’d never or rarely hike. If I had a pool in my back yard again, I’d swim more than I do now, going to the public pool.

  10. June 21, 2008 3:42 pm

    Oh, you almost make me want to take up sewing, but I’ve got to finish conquering knitting, and I know sewing machines and I don’t get along well at all. But, to wear my very own dress, and to choose wonderful buttons like that one. Sigh! I think one of my hobbies is being drawn to hobbies. However, reading and writing are still tied for the number-one spot, and I do love to cook when I’ve got the time.

  11. June 22, 2008 6:48 am

    Love the clutch and the button! I have 2 of that design in red that I bought for a project I never undertook, but I smile each time I re-discover them.

    I do have some difficulty balancing sewing, quilting, crafting, gardening, and reading. I always read, but when in the throes of a quilting project or gardening, my reading is more limited. Right now, the gardening is getting most of my energy.

  12. June 22, 2008 10:17 am

    I love sewing and other crafts too. I don’t do them all the time but when I get a bug, I can go for days, sometimes weeks and crank out stuff like mad.
    Last summer I hand pieced an entire quilt and worked like a madwoman to finish it. Then I folded it up and it sits in my drawer still waiting to be quilted.

  13. June 22, 2008 12:35 pm

    What a cute clutch! I totally hear you on this one. I love having hobbies and am always trying to find new things to learn but I’ve scaled back a lot on pursuing new hobbies the more hooked I’ve become on bookbinding. Between it and reading they just take a lot of time. I take on another one :)
    Hope you’ll show us more of your sewing projects!

  14. June 22, 2008 1:28 pm

    My hobby is my job. I don’t know if that makes me lucky or sad??

  15. June 22, 2008 3:59 pm

    I’ll need 47 hours a day to strike a balance at all my hobbies. This week has been taken up mostly by the SF gay film festival and I’ve got 8 movies lined up! My reading will inevitably take a toll! :)

  16. June 22, 2008 8:30 pm

    In my dream world I have enough time to quilt, to garden, to cook, to read everything i want to read, and write. In the real world, I read alot, cook because everyone needs to eat, garden when it’s not raining (as it has for 19 days so far this month!) and quilt at the last. I also try to write every day. so, to answer the great question about balance:
    HAHAHAHAHAHA! Wait til you go to school in the fall!! Oh, and I raise a family and work full-time. I wish i could get by on two hours of sleep a night, but sadly I seem to need 6 minimum………so, books (reading), writing, cooking and gardening come first, and then sadly quilting at the last. But I have a lovely trunk full of fabric and a row of quilting books and two squares completed (but that hardly a quilt makes!). Please let me know if you find time to squeeze more time out of the day!!!! Great post, Eva.

  17. June 23, 2008 6:22 pm

    I’m a big sewer, too, but of a different sort. I do cross-stitch, and I find it – like you do – incredibly soothing. It lets my brain slow down and meditate on something repetitive. I do puzzles for the same reason.
    And while I sometimes listen to book on tape while I do these things, mostly I just do them or do them while I watch TV, all about letting that hamster wheel of a mind shut down for a bit.
    Great question.

  18. June 24, 2008 11:24 am

    Lisa, I think my sewing’s going to come in the same spurts your knitting does. :) I hope you can get into audiobooks eventually: I think they’re so much fun!

    Molly, hi! I Haven’t read it. What’s it about?

    Chartroose, hehe: pets are hobbies! :) And thanks for the good luck vibes…they just need to call me already. :)

    Raych, I have a feeling I’ll be doing more clothing than home decorating kind of stuff. I’m impressed you made a quilt!

    Debi, aww-thanks. That dog bed is so awesome!! And I can imagine a fabric store would be very dangerous. :D I’ve always avoided getting into scrapbooking, because I absolutely love stationary products, and I’m afraid I’ll spend too much money! lol

    Susan, thanks! And I find it pretty easy to sew and listen to audiobooks, unless I’m doing something super-complicated.

    Dew, that’s a great way to describe reading vs. other hobbies! I’ve always wanted to garden, but I haven’t done it since I was in elementary school (my mom, sister and I did a vegetable garden every year in San Angelo). Doll making-that must be interesting! I really want to take up knitting one of these days (I know how to knit and purl, but I’ve never made anything more than a scarf): so many pretty sweater patterns. But first I must master sewing! lol

    Emily, I love to cook too! I probably make dinner for my family 4-5 nights a week. :) Whenever I’ve tried to sew in the past, things did not go well (to put it lightly), but this time something clicked. For me, knitting is next on the hobby list: I know the basic stitches, but I want to get good enough to make pretty sweaters. :)

    JenClair, ohh: they’d be so cute in red! Gardening must be so satisfying: I’d try it here, but we have a ton of deer, who can easily hop over fences, so they’d just consider it a salad bar, lol.

    Jaimie, are you an Aries? I’m an Aries, and I’m like that too: that’s why I’m trying to pace myself w/ sewing this time, so I don’t just stop cold turkey. :)

    Iliana, thanks! If I ever get this dress done, I’ll have to post a picture of it. :) And your bookbinding is So Cool. lol

    Juxtabook, that makes you lucky! Very lucky! lol

    Matthew, I love that you picked 47 hours. Not 48, but 47. hehe But I feel you: sometimes I go through big movie phases, and don’t read all that much.

    Susan, all that rain! And I know things are going to be even worse when I’m in school, lol. I need 7-8 hours of sleep, really. If I only get six hours, I start to get cranky around the fourth day. lol I cook a lot too, and bake a little. I used to bake more, but at 7,000 feet, it’s more challenging. :(

    Andi, I did cross-stitch when I was younger and really enjoyed it. :)

  19. June 24, 2008 9:33 pm

    What a coincidence! I just dusted off the sewing machine this morning. Quilting was my passion for a long time but I love sewing and crafting for any kind. When I started homeschooling six years ago the sewing fell to the wayside but the reading got a jump start. My goals for this summer are to read more and make a quilt. I look forward to seeing what you create.

  20. June 24, 2008 10:03 pm

    My main hobbies are reading, cooking, and art, with some outdoorsy stuff thrown in as I can get to it. I find that it’s pretty easy to do the cooking bits since we all have to eat, after all. Art is harder for me to fit in, but only because right now I’m totally into reading again, and because my partner is currently sick I try to hang out with her and my art stuff is in a separate room (and I need to spread out) so I don’t get to it very often. Reading is easy, I do that whenever I can and for at least an hour each night (plus more on the weekends). I can read anywhere, and do.

    Now that it’s sunny I guess I can throw in a little container gardening but that hardly takes up any time, since I have hardly any space.

    Is exercise a hobby? I have been running a couple days a week as well.

    I would sew more but I really don’t have patience for it. I do love all the possibilities, however. I wish I were a better seamstress. I love fabric! But I am kind of a shoddy seamstress and I get all tense while sewing. I wish I didn’t. But sometimes I get the urge to make something and I’m glad I know how.

    Basically, I work all day, then come home and read, cook, exercise, and possibly some other hobby thing. I don’t have kids, my partner is recovering from Lyme disease, and I don’t go out much, so I’m not that stressed for time! Lucky me! A few years ago I would have killed for this kind of time, so I’m enjoying it.

    Sometimes while I’m watching TV I do enjoy reading blogs (is that a hobby or is that reading?) and I like doing puzzles or occasionally some other hobby-like thing while watching terrible TV.

    But reading is my constant and nothing will ever trump a good book!

  21. June 27, 2008 7:07 pm

    Petunia, that is a coincidence! Good luck with the quilt: I don’t have the patience for big projects. :)

    Daphne, wow! The only art I”m good at is collage. ;) I’m glad your partner’s recovering: I think blogging is a hobby. I love to cook too, and I do yoga, as my exercise. I’m not hardcore enough to run!

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