Ah, hobbies. Those wonderful ways to fill your leisure time and relax in a world that’s a little too stressful. Everybody probably has at least one or two. I’m sure there are some folks who have dozens. I have several, myself, from reading to hiking, and many other things as well. But as interests change, some hobbies start to lose their appeal and others suddenly become more important. This waning and waxing of interest in hobbies is something that's been happening to me recently. One of my hobbies has become a source of frustration, rather than pleasure, and I've gotten a lot more interested in another one.
As some folks here may know, I quilt. I’ve been quilting for about 5 years now. It's a hobby that grew out of a fondness for sewing in general and from hanging out with friends who quilt. And in that time, I’ve made some cool stuff that I’ve been proud of and which other people have enjoyed as well. However, quilting has always been a hobby that has brought me equal measures of joy and frustration. For every project I completed that seemed easy, went smoothly, and came out looking better than I had expected, there always seemed to be at least one project that left me frustrated enough to scream. Finally, last year, the balance tipped from equal measures of joy and frustration to simple frustration. Projects that should be quick were suddenly time-consuming, easy projects turned into difficult ones, and suddenly this wonderful means of relaxation seemed like work. So, I'm letting this hobby go. There's one more project that I feel obliged to finish, but it will be the last.
At the same time, my love of photography continues to grow. This has been a hobby of mine, off and on, since I was a kid, but in the past year or so, something's changed. Instead of just getting out with my camera and enjoying taking pictures, I've started to get serious about getting better at this whole photography thing. After many years of using the automatic settings on my various cameras, I've taken the plunge and am using the manual settings on my camera most of the time. I'm expanding my range of subjects beyond my traditional interests of landscapes, architecture, and wildlife. I set a challenge for myself of taking at least one photo a day in January, and I did it. I've also started looking back through my archive of digital photos, doing a bit of desperately needed organizing, and posting the decent stuff to Flickr. I'm really hoping that I can finish organizing and posting my entire 5 year backlog of digital photos before the end of the year (while keeping up with everything I shoot this year). And I'm having a ball doing all of this. I've never enjoyed photography more.
So, to the friends and family who have received a quilt from me as a gift, enjoy them well, because there aren't going to be any more ((Except for Dad — you're still owed a wall hanging, and I'm hoping to make that your birthday present.)). You may be getting photos from me instead, though. Should be a fair trade, too — I'm already a better photographer than I ever was a quilter, and I hope to keep improving.