10 Unusual Winter Hobbies

Kelly Nicholson

The Winter Solstice and the darkest days of winter are behind us now as we head into a new year, but we won’t notice much difference in the length of days for a while. Until the days run long into the evening again, we will need something to occupy our time, and there are many activities to choose from. Classic hobbies like painting, reading, making model airplanes, playing music, playing Solitaire, and solving jigsaw puzzles, among many others, are fantastic pastimes for the whole family. However, there are some great activities worth checking out that don’t typically make the “most popular hobbies” lists. More information on each hobby can be found in books from your local library or bookstore, or through a quick search online.

It’s National Hobby Month, so let your curiosity guide you and check out these unusual hobbies!

Pickling is an ancient food-preservation technique used all over the world. Through a curing process, either in brine or vinegar, pickled foods go through interesting taste and texture changes. Beyond classic cucumbers, try out eggs, green beans, grapes or berries, radishes, or garlic. Pickling times may vary from a couple of weeks to a month, so plan ahead.

Start a Worm Farm
Worm farms can range in complexity, from a $20 set from the toy store to complicated, multi-level vermicomposting towers that can help reduce your carbon footprint. The simple worm farm kits are neat because you can watch the worms in action through clear plastic sides. More in-depth set-ups are just as fascinating – who knew worms could eat so much?

T-Shirt Rug
Many of us have closets overflowing with t-shirts we no longer wear. Collect a pile of them and make a t-shirt rug! This hobby is unique because the result is something both useful and beautiful. T-shirt rugs can be customized in color and size, and can be braided, crocheted, knitted, loomed, woven, or latch hooked. Pick your style and have fun!

Science Experiments
Hunting for something educational, yet exciting, to do with the kids? Look no further than Montana Outdoor Science School’s at-home science kits! Currently, with three different themes to choose from – snow science, animals in winter, and engineering in nature – these MOSS kits provide materials for five days’ worth of activities to keep kids engaged in the outdoors. Check them out at www.outdoorscience.org.

Traveling Toys
Traveling toys has become a popular pastime in recent years. The idea is simple: a toy ‘travels’ around from person to person and photos are taken of the toy on its adventures. Some travelers also enjoy writing about experiences along the way! This could be a great activity for bringing together a group of local kids or as a class project.

Soap Carving
The hobby of sculpting bars of soap into various objects is known for its relaxing effect. Traditional methods use tools for light scraping to get intricate results – anyone with an interest in sculpting would really enjoy this low-cost method of creation. Impress your house guests this winter with artfully sculpted soaps—or give them away as gifts.

Pine Needle Weaving
Learning how to weave pine needle baskets takes some time and practice, so it’s a great fit for anyone who likes to put some extra effort into their hobbies. This traditional Native American skill has been practiced for thousands of years and yields incredible pieces of functional art. Here in the valley it might take some hunting to find the longer pine needles needed for this activity, so make sure you are harvesting responsibly and sustainably.

Make Your Own Dumplings
What better way to pass a cold, dark winter evening than to make your own delicious dumplings? They’re cheap, easy to make, and endlessly customizable. You can eat them all at once or stash extras in the freezer for a quick weeknight meal when you’re too busy to cook. Party idea: host a fun, all-hands-on-deck dumpling-making shindig and let guests create their own.

Knot Tying
Tying knots isn’t just fun; it’s an incredibly useful skill that can be utilized in all kinds of situations, whether at home, adventuring outside, on a boat, or just goofing around. If you can tie your shoes, then you’re already on your way with this hobby. Pick up a knot book at a locally owned bookstore; start with the easy ones, like the half-hitch, overhand, and square knots, and work your way up from there. You never know when your new knot knowledge may come in handy!

Ice Ornaments
Last on the list is ice ornaments. You’ll need a muffin tin, twine or yarn, colorful organic materials, and water. That’s it! To make the ornaments, add bits of things you can find outside in the winter to your muffin tin, like pine needles, rose hips, seed pods, grasses, and pinecones, or create bird feeders with birdseed and pieces of fruit. Add twine or yarn to the tin for a hanger loop, then pour in water, filling the cups. Place in your freezer (or outside overnight once it gets cold enough!). Hang your ornaments from trees in your yard and admire your handiwork until the ice melts.

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