Recently someone asked me what would be the characteristics of my perfect hobby/activity. What a coincidence because I have been trying to discern what it is about activities that really touch me that makes them so special. My favourite activities would include writing, kayaking, photography, knitting, and now rug hooking. The obvious link between the 2 handcrafts can't be taken too seriously as what I get from knitting (as I've been doing it in a more or less professional vein for the past 30 years) is very different from the honeymoon phase that one has when learning a new skill such as I am with rug hooking.
I've come up with 4 factors that are important to me in saying that "I love..." a certain activitiy.
1. It needs to surprise me - in delightful manner. When I finish writing a piece or if something occurs to me to remind me of a story that I wrote a long time ago, but it's still fresh in my memory, that's a delight. When I'm compelled to pet the richness of the wool blossoming into a pattern in knitting or into a rich configuration in the rug hooking, that's a delight. When I hit some waves in Lake Ontario and it makes me laugh like a 6 year old, that's a delight.
2. I need to feel a sense of security within the work. Partly that means that I can't feel physically threatened of course (as I would in skiing for instance) but it also means showing a certain proficiency for the activity so that I wonder: How did I not know that I could do this? Why didn't I try it before? It's not that it's easy but more that if you have a bit of encouragement from a certain ability right off the bat, there is a sense of it not being a waste of time to pursue it.
One might wonder how I can feel secure kayaking in Lake Ontario. The answer is that I'm seldom more than 20 yards from the shore and that's far enough to have all the fun in the world. Besides I have PFD and as a kid I once hung out in a lake for about 2 hours by treading water and floating on my back. That gave me a lot of comfort and confidence in the water, besides I figure I'm such a chicken I'm not likely to ever put myself in a dangerous situation.
3. The activity can't demand too much or be wasteful in any way. I once said that I couldn't have begun writing in a time before the word processor, or gotten seriously into photography before the digital camera because I was too cheap or too embarassed to use all the resources necessary to develop the bad pictures along with the good ones. Kayaking requires next to nothing beyond the basic equipment. And although we all like to collect the nicest and newest tools to make our knitting more pleasant, is it really anything compared the "required" implements of woodworking or golf.
4. My choice activities need to have depth, I need to be able to learn something continuously and see that there is somewhere else to go with what I'm doing. I've been knitting for 30 years because I have seldom had a pattern that I didn't alter, I have seldom met a yarn that I didn't wonder what it would be like if I mixed it with another, and I haven't met a pattern that I didn't like...lots of them I wouldn't do, but in all of them I appreciate the integrity of the person who designed it.
Heaven knows that in writing, photography, kayaking and now in rug hooking, there is always lots to learn, another aspect to develop and lots of fun to be had.
What would be the characteristics for your favourite hobby/activity???