Of the Valley

Everyone splits the population of the world into groups of their own choice. These groups vary based on the choosing individual’s experience and point of view; men and women, Republicans and Democrats, the employed and the unemployed, etc.

For me, the groups are those who knit, and those who don’t.

In this case, “knitting” is a euphemism for having a time-consuming hobby. You might think that everyone has a hobby or two, but the majority of these don’t really qualify as hobbies.
A real, honest-to-goodness hobby is more than just a pastime or leisure pursuit. For an activity to qualify as a hobby, the partaker must be partly obsessed.

The hobbyist should own collections or stashes of materials needed to pursue this hobby, and a regular amount of each paycheck should be allotted to feed these collections. The hobbyist should frequent Web sites and forums committed to their hobby of choice, and own several books that explore the philosophy and technique of the hobby. A true hobbyist attends local meetings with like-minded colleagues at least once a month and attends a festival or convention related to their hobby once a year, at minimum. Further stripes are earned if they wear hobby-related costumes to these events.

Having a hobby combats boredom, which is one of the leading causes of acting like an idiot. If I had a grandma, she would say, “I’m glad you knit — it keeps you out of the gutter.”

I often find myself with a friend or two heading to the movies, only to find that our chosen film doesn’t start for an hour or so. If I were alone sitting in the foyer, waiting wouldn’t be torture — there is always more knitting to do. However, that’s not an option for my hobbyless friends, so we wind up setting things on fire lakeside or getting useless piercings just to pass the time.

On the other hand, a hobby can be detrimental to a social life. Unless it’s something done with a group of people, like a team sport, hobbies can take the place of socializing. Why go to that party when there are model boats to build or fan-fiction chapters to read?

If you’re really into it, a hobby can be a route to serenity. In a recent health article from CNN (“How one busy mom found inner peace,” August 1), the listed mediums to find enlightenment were Tai Chi, walks in the woods, and knitting. A hobby is something that you are or will become adept at, something that you can wrap around your head completely. This brings self-confidence, and gives you one area of life over which you are in complete control.

So really, it doesn’t matter that I sometimes forget how to make small talk or that I’m never in class on time: I’m about to finish an immaculately constructed wool sweater, and that’s enough of an accomplishment to get me through the end of the week.

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