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Hobbies Have Function

I read somewhere that people who have hobbies are happier than those who do not. That makes sense to me because hobbies have that calming effect.

My hobbies include reading, knitting, making cards, and writing. All of the above make for a calming effect on me. Some of them are more calming than others but oh well, that is just the way things are.

January is National Hobby month. That, too, makes sense since in January at least in this part of the world we are in the house more than usual. I think of January as being when I have the most time for my hobbies. Hobbies also keep me from getting bored with being inside.

I love to read — all kinds of books. Right now, I am reading historical fiction in the form of books about quilting during the Civil War. The books are set in Water’s Ford — Waterford. I have read many of the author’s writings, but am now immersed in the story of quilters who of course could not go to war, but supported their men by making quilts. The characters of these novels move from one to another so you follow them along their journey. I have tried quilting as a hobby, but I am not so good at that. I made one wall hanging years ago. My granddaughter helped me pick out the material for the little houses. I adopted a pattern offered on HGTV and made it my own. I did win a fourth place at the county fair with my work.

I am also reading a mystery. This one involves a cook who helps to solve cases. She also presents recipes in her books. I have tried some of them and they are pretty good. Some of them are more involved than I like and some of them call for ingredients that I do not often have. I reject those.

As for the knitting portion of my hobbies since Christmas I have knit a couple hats and some mittens. I follow patterns from Knitting4Peace. This group prays for the people who will use what is being knit. There are patterns for all of things that they collect. I connect with that group through Chautauqua Institution. There is a group there and a lady takes all of the things donated to be shipped to countries where they are needed.

I am also working on a baby blanket. That is what I do while I am volunteering at the hospital. It does not take a lot of counting so it is the perfect project for that environment. I leave it in the bag that I take to the hospital so it is rather slow going. I am now past the half way point so things are looking up.

Writing, of course, involves the preparation of this column weekly. I like to get ahead on these when I have an idea. I am currently working on several columns that you will read in the future. It seems that ideas come to me in bunches. I jot them down when they come so I can work on them later.

People ask me all the time where I get my ideas. Basically, they come from many sources. I read, I watch television, I talk to others, and I just remember things from my past. People often say that what I write makes them think about things that they have forgotten about. I find an interesting way to say it that allows them to connect with their past. I hear from readers frequently commenting on what I write. I recently opened an e-mail from the Seattle area. The person moved from this area and enjoys my references to things from the farm. He was raised on a farm.

I like to make cards. I have a whole lot of stamps to work with and often I make my own templates for things to use on them. I took some classes when a lady from this area offered them. They were more intricate than I try on my own. I have sent cards to shut-ins through the years. When I started to make my own cards, I got so many more responses that I have continued on this path. When my aunt was in an assisted living facility, I saw my cards on her bulletin board. I have a friend who makes beautiful cards. Hers are definitely keepers. She has one of those fancy cutting machines. I did not go that route. I make my own or use punches. That is a creative outlet that I enjoy. It also helps to fill in those hours when I am unable to get out.

Hobbies can be anything that you enjoy doing. It can be taking walks. I used to take a lot of walks, but the traffic on my back road has increased so much that it is dangerous, especially in the winter when there is snow and ice. I remember when the children rode their sleds down the road in the old days. They would go all the way to the barn, but that would not be possible today. Their dad would put the sled in his truck to bring it back home.

With my husband working on the farm such long hours I learned to entertain myself. Sometimes I embroidered. I have curtains with embroidered borders. I have aprons with embroidery. I have pillow cases with pretty designs.

Let me also mention Swedish embroidery. That takes a special material called huck toweling. I taught my craft group how to do this. There are no stitches showing on the reverse side. I make up many of my patterns for this. I even have some of my grandfather’s patterns. I remember that we had to go to a little store in Forestville to get that special material. I have found a mail-order source that still carries it. I remember one of the class members saying she did not think she would ever like doing this. In the end once she caught on, she made many things with this method.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.

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