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Woman meditating with her dog.
Photograph: Cottonbro

Lockdown hobbies that you’ll actually stick to

Learn a new skill with our top suggestions that you won’t lose interest in

By Time Out editors

During lockdowns one through four, who among us didn't ambitiously attempt to take on several new hobbies that we ended up letting fall to the wayside? Maybe you baked endless sourdough loaves that ended up in the bin, cultivated a garden that you've since forgotten about or downloaded and proceeded to delete Duolingo after being bullied by that owl. 

But don't lose hope; lockdown five could be your chance to find something that actually sticks. Here are five hobbies that we tried out and have kept up with. The best part? Some of them are completely free. 

Looking for more ways to fill up your free time during lockdown? Here's how you can digitally borrow books from the library while it's closed. 

A ball of wool sits next to a pile of crochet granny squares and a crochet hook.
Photograph: Alannah Maher


What you’ll need: crochet hook, wool, access to YouTube. Optional: someone older, wiser and experienced in crochet to call on. 

For years I have promised to learn the skill of my foremothers, but time, patience and the attention span to do so have evaded us. When I found myself isolating at my parents’ house for two months last lockdown – with countless balls of wool, oodles of time and my mother’s expertise at my disposal (along with some helpful YouTube videos narrated by a gentle Midwestern woman) – I finally took the plunge to learn the art of crochet. My first granny square didn’t come together easily. The claw-like hand position didn’t come naturally, the commands of ‘yarn over’ and ‘chain three’ didn’t compute with me. How do you make corners out of soft wool? That first misshapen square took a few days to complete. A couple more in, a change of crochet hook, and the practice eventually became natural, even meditative. Before I knew it, I was churning out perfect little (mostly) uniform granny squares in about 15 to 20 minutes a pop. With another lockdown ahead of me, it’s time to take that green bag full of squares and turn them into something dashing. Soon, I bet I’ll be turning out baby blankets (and a crochet bikini design I’ve dreamed up) to my heart’s content. I look forward to many more long nights of hookin’. Are you more swayed by knitting than crochet? Check out this beginner's knit kit from Cardigang. (Alannah Maher, Sydney lifestyle kournalist)

Contemporary dancer
Photograph: Cottonbro

Contemporary Dance

What you’ll need: to watch these online guided movement classes by Chunky Move. 

The videos are free to access and are filmed in gorgeous locations throughout Melbourne. Chuck on some comfy and loose clothes and get some stretches in before tuning in. If you're not that confident in your dance skills, don't worry – the guided movements are easy to follow and involve a lot of slow movements and stretches to help you feel attuned to your body. 

I am a deeply uncoordinated person. It is almost certain I will come to an untimely and embarrassing end while getting up from my desk. There have been several near-death near misses already, as I rise, trip and plummet-run headlong into my bookcase. So it makes no sense for me to try anything that involves supple coordination and grace. Dance is not my friend, other than daggy living room solo moves. In lockdown, I realised pretty quick that the best way to reclaim some weekend joy was to flick on classic bangers on YouTube and get spinning around my living room like Kylie in her golden hot pants every Friday night. And getting sweaty dancing really does get those happy endorphins flowing. (Stephen A Russell, Sydney Arts Editor)

Close up of person making pickles in a jar.
Photograph: Reka Biro-Horvath/Unsplash


What you’ll need: sturdy glass jars with lids; spices such as caraway seed, dill seed, black pepper, juniper berries or cumin seeds; water; salt; vegetables for fermenting.

Take some veggies and transform them into something entirely new with some deceptively simple, briny magic. The practice of taking a mason jar, otherwise unloved vegetables and a handful of spices and creating something delicious whisks me away to a TikTok-perfect cottagecore fantasy. Just chuck me a gingham dress and a wicker basket and throw me to the self-sustaining pastoral colony already! But daydreams aside, it was actually my dad’s penchant for pickling that truly piqued my interest in the briny arts. He found it as a way to make use of the knobbly cucumbers and other veggies spilling out of his backyard veggie garden faster than they could be eaten. And now, you cannot leave my parents’ house without a jar of delicious, good-for-your-gut preserves being thrust at you. If there’s anything more satisfying than layering up a sandwich, burger or plate of nibbles (or stirring through a simple salad) with the tart and sweet zing of pickles, it’s knowing that you made those flavoursome morsels yourself. With some expertise from Sydney’s own pickling and preservation authority, Cornersmith, it’s pretty easy to get started. The website has lots of recipes, and the one for kitchen scrap fermenting is a great starting point. Just make sure you sterilise your jars first. If you really want to commit to a more delicious and sustainable kitchen, order a copy of Use It All: The Cornersmith Guide to a More Sustainable Kitchen ($32). (Alannah Maher, Sydney lifestyle journalist)

Person doing the splits
Photograph: Marta Wave/Pexels

Doing the splits

What you’ll need: a subscription to the Splits in 30 Days app, 20-30 minutes every day.

During the very first, nationwide lockdown from March 2020, I decided to learn the splits. Having done no more than a handful of dance classes in my life, flexibility was not my strong point, but it was always something I thought would be fun to do. I downloaded an app that claimed to be able to teach me the splits in 30 days... Well, it took more like nine months, but I can now do the splits on demand. I found I was able to stick with this goal because it was something I, personally, had always wanted to do and because it suited my lifestyle (i.e. it only took 20-30 minutes of my time every day, when I would be exercising in some form anyway. If you're looking to pick up a new skill or hobby, I'd definitely recommend choosing something with those two factors in mind. (Nicola Dowse, Melbourne arts editor)

Soul Alive Meditation Class
Photograph: Supplied/Soul Alive


What you’ll need: time and patience (those will be easier to find once you start looking for them, we promise). Optional: subscription to Soul Alive, $9 a week or $29 monthly.

When we think of hobbies we tend to think of things that require a box of materials that you use a honed skill to turn into something new to show off on your mantlepiece or to gift to someone else (be it a cake, a terrarium, or whathaveyou), with a satisfying outcome. You might not think of meditation as something that fits under that umbrella. But join me in a metaphor, if you will: the box is your mind, filled with all the thoughts and anxieties that are jumbled within it; meditation is the tool or skill that you use to recalibrate it; and your more relaxed and adaptable new mindset is both the satisfactory payoff and the thing you have to show off. It can be hard to know where to get started, but what if you could channel the hours you lose in existential states of disassociation and into a relaxed and focussed state of mind that can even lead to euphoria? You can. One way you can get started is with the guidance of Soul Alive, a Sydney-based businesses and Australia’s first livestreamed meditation service. It aims to help introduce meditation in a convenient and relatable manner. While founder Luke McLeod (who hosts many of the guided meditation with his deep, soothing voice) honed his skills at a meditation centre “in the foothills of the Himalayas”, Soul Alive also ditches the stereotype that the only way to meditate is while sitting on the top of a foggy mountain, tied up like a pretzel. With short, livestreamed sessions that are easy to slip into my Google Calendar, an on-demand library of practices curated for sleep, stress, energy and focus, even my unconditioned mind is learning to unplug and take stock, and I’ll be damned if I’m not motivated to keep it up. You can sign up for a free one-week pass here(Alannah Maher, Sydney lifestyle journalist)


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