Crafts I Intended To Try This Winter but Now It’s Almost Spring so I Guess I’ll Put Them Off for Another Year

I don’t know about you, but every single year when the cold depressing months come around, I cheer myself up by putting together a list of potential crafts I could do to pass the time. Sometimes they’re crafts I’m very familiar with, like collaging, but more often than not, I dream big — there’s nothing I love more than a long list of crafts I haven’t yet tried. Ideally they’ll be multi-step huge projects that seem totally manageable when I daydream about them in October… and then slowly but surely get moved to the back burner of my life all winter long because they seem daunting, expensive, time-consuming, unrealistic… etc etc etc. Perhaps you experience this too? Perhaps you have no idea what I’m talking about? I feel like this is the right crowd to be like, “surely everyone does this, right, wanna share your list, hmmm?” but sometimes I’m wrong! I’m open to being wrong.

Just like I was super open to attempting all these crafts this winter… ALAS.

1. Knitting joggers

I’m actually pretty good at knitting! I knit hats, blankets, the occasional doll… I’ve been knitting since I was 8 years old and decided my tiny Polly Pocket dolls needed individual blankets. Knitting is not really the problem. It’s the knitting joggers part that really through a wrench in this plan.

A fat babe I used to work with is always posting photos of the incredible clothing she knits for herself and I’ve always been extremely envious but not envious enough that I’m motivated to actually knit any clothing for myself. Until she posted this jogger set! Oh my god! Knit joggers sized for fat babes that, when complimented on, I could casually say, “oh thanks so much, I knit them myself!”?!?!?!? The allure was so great. And yet… it’s March and I haven’t so much as bought the knitting pattern or the yarn, much less taught myself how to make this dream project happen.

2. Making miniatures, specifically miniature breakfast food

Oh my god, have you seen the Miniature Movement on Instagram?!?! Okay perhaps that’s not what it’s officially called, but I am calling it that! All these people make miniatures of everything and it’s amazing, I am obsessed. I started following like 20+ random suburban moms who all furnish their dollhouses with the wildest DIY tiny stuff and wow, it’s really made social media fun for me again!

Within the Miniature Movement I’ve recently discovered the Breakfast Food Miniature Movement which is exactly what it sounds like. Do you know the only thing better than a perfectly plated poached egg and croissant? A fucking tiny perfectly plated poached egg and croissant made out of clay and painted with a single strand brush to get the glaze and the shading just right. Good lord! Anyway these people have blown my whole mind and I thought maybe I could join. them, but so far, no.

3. Decoupaging furniture

I’ve wanted to do this since I was a kid. “Wouldn’t the desk that you paid good money to have painted the exact right shade of pink look better if I collaged a bunch of images from Teen Vogue and CosmoGirl all over it?” I asked my mother frequently. She did not think the desk would look better that way, no. To be fair, she was 100% correct.

But now I’m an adult! Now I have Taste! Surely I could find a genuinely beautiful way to decoupage my furniture, no? Honestly maybe not but in the meanwhile it doesn’t matter because I surely haven’t made any moves to make this two-decade-old dream a reality.

4. Needlepoint

I got really into embroidery a few years ago and I thought a natural progression of that interest might be needlepoint. But it’s been more than five years and it hasn’t happened yet, so it might be time to accept it never will. OR MAYBE NEXT WINTER WILL BE MY YEAR!

5. Woodworking of all kinds

I’m always jealous of queer people who can build shelves and garden boxes and treehouses and what not. Seems like a good skill to have. When I was 10 and went to summer camp I made a small crooked book shelf and an ugly chair in woodworking. I liked the smell of the shop and I was terrified of the saws. Anyway what I’m saying is I have very little experience with “woodworking” and a very unclear framework of what “woodworking” as a 33 year old dyke in the suburbs would look like, but it feels like a craft one could just kinda pick up, and I’d like to. One day. Maybe.

6. Intricate nail art

OKAY. I have never had long nails in my life before but then something happened during the pandemic (probably all that Staying At Home and Not Really Doing Anything I Used To Do) and my nails grew long and I became obsessed with manicures! First I did them myself, then I started getting manicures, and I recently graduated to gel manicures with really amazing intricate nail art. My nail tech blows me away with her skill. She is a genuine Artiste! I could never aspire to be at her level. But I thought maybe I could like, be the hobbyist version.

I did a pretty decent DIY cow print manicure for myself a few months ago, so when a friend asked me if I’d put flames on their nails in celebration of their birthday I said hell yeah. Um… DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH HARDER IT IS TO PAINT A FLAME THAN TO SIMPLY PAINT SOME BLACK BLOBS ON YOUR WHITE MANICURE AND CALL IT A COW PRINT DAY?! So anyway, my goal to become a legit DIY intricate nail artist this winter failed, but I have some hope for the future. A girl can dream.

7. Creating stationary with pressed flowers

I pressed some pink flowers last spring and all year I thought, I should do something really creative and beautiful with these flowers, like make personalized stationary and write long heartfelt letters to my loved ones letting them know how much I care about them.

It’s spring again and I have made zero stationary and I have written zero letters. The pressed flowers remain untouched in my art supply drawer as new flowers bloom on the trees outside my window. Whoops.

8. Glasswork

A few weeks ago, a friend confided that she’s always wanted to get into glasswork. I don’t know what this is, really, but as soon as she said it I thought, that sounds complicated and potentially expensive — I should look into it! I haven’t yet, but I will. Next year.


Tell me about the crafts you intended to try this winter, or, even wilder, tell me if you actually succeeded in trying any new crafts this winter! I’d love to have more creative things to add to my to do list for next year’s hibernation season. I’m a Capricorn, after all — it’s never too early to start planning crafts I’ll probably put off indefinitely for the rest of my life, you know?


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Vanessa

Vanessa is a writer, a teacher, and the community editor at Autostraddle. She used to be hot and fun but now she’s mostly hot and sad. Find her on twitter and instagram.

Vanessa has written 371 articles for us.

19 Comments

  1. I tried pottery this winter! When i was able to thanks to lockdown measures lifting, going to my local studio to spend some time at the wheel has been one of my favourite meditative activities. But I also planned to get into rug braiding and that didnt happen so… Ya win some ya lose some.

  2. i used to live in massachusetts and had an apartment with more space, and i absolutely bought a bunch of ikea tables and craft paper and decoupaged the surfaces of them! it ended up working better with wooden trays, which i would paint and then put a clear coat over to seal, but it was a very fun and soothing project that i miss sometimes.

    • This is so incredibly relatable — as another person with ADHD, I have significantly more unfinished ‘projects’ and the like just,,,,gathering dust in the corners of my house until I eventually decide to move and then end up getting rid of a lot of them, and then it happens again….

  3. This is extremely relatable. I have a similarly long list of potential hobbies (ceramics! block printing! whittling!) but it’s so hard for me to get motivated after a day of work when it’s dark at like 5pm in the winter. I also blame my inaction on my tiny, carpeted apartment since it is not conducive to fun and messy hobbies.

  4. I kept looking at throw blankets for the couch when I’m watching TV or reading in the winter and then said “Hey I crochet, I can crochet a blanket! It’s not that hard!” It’s now March and 60 degrees outside and I JUST purchased the yarn after much prodding and poking by my person. So maybe it’ll be ready in time for next winter.

  5. I bought a spinning wheel this winter and took a course on how to spin wool with some awesome women! I have spun a small amount of wool into bad lumpy yarn and am unjustifiably proud. One day I will learn to knit. One day

  6. Okay, I am a super artsy-craftsy and even fine artsy queer. This is SO up my alley!

    To respond to your article, Vanessa, here are my thoughts:

    1. Joggers seem like a really hard thing to knit. I like to knit. I knit rectangles. Some of those rectangles can be turned into Things, like the beautiful neck gaiter I knitted last year, mostly during my son’s Little League games, which for me, an artsy non-jock, are interminable and impossible for me to sustain attention for. But I sit in my fold-up sports chair and knit! It’s great! Especially for the April games, which are so chilly I have to wear my winter coat and a warm hat. And now I have the Honor of my yoga teacher wanting me to make her one, which makes me a Professional Knitter. Buying the yarn was perfectly timed with a visit to my in-laws, so my Mother-in-law could cast on for me. Let the rectangle beginnnnnnnn!!!!!!!!

    2. I love miniatures!!!!!!! I am a school social worker and when I found an amazing dollhouse in a free box in Park Slope, Brooklyn, I was all, “SQUEEEEEEEEEE!” and I have an actual excuse for screetching my hatchback to a halt and putting it in the back, along with the box of animals-doing-people-things that go in the dollhouse and the other box of perfect tiny dollhouse furniture including tiny food and baby accessories. You can read that repeatedly if you want. And is my excuse that I have two kids? No! They are teenagers! My excuse is that I do play therapy in an elementary school. If you love miniatures and you love kids, maybe you should become a therapist so you can “help” the child clients do play therapy with a dollhouse! Just sayin. Or a play tent. My other fave therapy tool. But I don’t actually go inside the play tent. That is wrong. I just sit nearby while the child or children hang out in the play tent. Or the other play tent. I think I’m off on a tangent… But one more thing about miniatures: my old coworker and I used to make miniature copies of membership cards on the copy machine and squeal at them.

    3. No. It’s okay if it’s very cheap used furniture or from Ikea or the street. But be very careful here. I still have a cherished dresser and night table I bought 27 years ago and I am so glad I did not change their appearance in any way. Also, I have an upsetting memory involving some very sexist male artists who decoupaged their kitchen counter in their shared loft with porn. They enjoyed watching women slowly realize that the images were of porn. I got out of there fast. But feminist decoupage could be amazing. Okay, I’ve changed my mind. Decoupage!

    4. Don’t worry about it if you don’t ever needlepoint. I’m actually saving certain crafts for when I’m very old and don’t feel like going camping anymore.

    5. Woodworking is sooooo enticing. I just talked myself out of building a custom bookcase because the spot is a funky size and I wanted it to fit flush. Until I watched a DIY video and they used the term pocket holes. Or pocket something. And the tool looked expensive. And I realized I don’t have a woodshed or even a really good spot to drill things in my apartment or even my basement. I thought maybe I could get my step dad to offer his home woodshop for my project, even though it’s 5 hours away, or maybe he would decide to do it for me or build me a kit I could assemble at home. But when I called, he said, oh yeah, you make pocket holes, like it was so easy. And I decided to go to Gothic Cabinet Craft. Moral: someday you can have access to a woodshop and then you can more easily make amazing stuff. But get access first because that shit’s expensive, makes a mess, and you don’t want to accidentally drill or saw through your floor or kitchen table because you were trying to build a birdhouse in your kitchen. At least wait until it’s nice out and you can tinker outside…

    6. I am not a nails girl. I am a lifelong nail biter, which worked fine for being a lesbian, and I also play two string instruments, garden, wrestle and play-fight with my 12 year old, wrangle a big aggressive dog, and now make stuff out of clay. So I am not likely to become a nails girl. Do whatever makes you happy, but it does sound difficult to learn this art form, and maybe do something you are already good at to earn the money to pay those who want to make a living from being already good at nail art? But if you want to apprentice to one of them, maybe pay them for their time.

    7. I still have the flower presser my hippie aunt gave me 35 years ago. I think I’ve used it once, when my first kid was into it. I think it still has the pressed flowers in it. Oh! But once, my Girlfriend at the time and I had a shared journal, which is an AMAZING thing to do with a loved one, and I wrote something and she took it home and then brought it back and when I asked if she write something in it, she said no, she pressed a flower in it. MELT!!!!! So maybe this one has some legs. But it could be too much pressure to make stationery from pressed flowers. Do you mean make paper with pressed flowers in it? Sorry if that gave you Idea #9. But I can’t picture what you are talking about. It seems like a nice idea, though, and very Pandemic. But written letters are a dying art, and I still have every letter anyone ever wrote to me. File cabinets are great for that type of hoarding. I think this one is maybe worth exploring. Maybe it’s not a winter craft at all but a springtime, inspired-by-all-the-new-flowers craft. That inspiration aspect gives many projects the influx of energy they need to get started. I have Task Initiation problems, but my Husbian does not, only Task Persistence problems (which cause him to leave everything out after using it, grrrrr). But together, we can be a Dream Team! Do you have someone with strong Task Initiation vibes? Ask them to help get you started! Maybe if you discuss all of your ideas, they can help you figure out which one can be done right away, and then help you get on the path to actually doing it. And seasons don’t really matter. As I said in the knitting section above, I actually knitted my super warm neck gaiter (I later lined it with leftover polar fleece and it’s almost wind-proof but looks fashiony) in the spring at Little League games! I might have even finished it on road trips during summer! Can’t remember now, but I started knitting again from pandemic stress, and something wonderful came out of it! A plum knitted rectangle that became functional! Anyway, the neck gaiter waited quietly in my scarf box until late fall when it was the most thrilling thing to put on something new that I Made Myself when it finally got cold!!!! Much better than if I had made it over the winter and finished it in the spring.

    8. Okay, glasswork is kinda cool. I am privileged to have had a chance to watch glass blowing during my trips to the Penland School of Craft back in 1990, and it is amazing. Lampworking is making tiny things with glass and an acetylene torch. More apartment-friendly. Glass blowing is crazy expensive and requires huge very hot furnaces and lots of training. Lampworking probably easier and less training. Maybe one class. So look for a glass lamp working class and have at it! Like my new ceramics obsession, this seems like it would be easier to just go to a place that is already set up for the activity and has a teacher there to answer you when you get confused, stuck, frustrated or whiny and sad. Also, it’s a fire hazard, so probably better not to do at home. Or if you dare to do it at home, do it away from flammables and buy a brand new fire extinguisher, read the instructions until you understand them, and have it near you when you work, but not so close to you that it too catches on fire.

    In conclusion, I am 51 years old, and I love making art, music, written stuff, and crafts. I have a long long list of hobbies and passions that I love, and I decided a long time ago that it’s ok if I can’t/don’t do all of them all the time, as long as I’m doing at least one of them regularly at any given time. For example, when was the last time I sailed? I dunno, 10 years ago? But it’s on my list because I love it! I even have my own sunfish sailboat at my Dad and Stepmom’s lake house outside of Syracuse, NY! But it’s covered with algae and Husbian says I’ll never use it again because Oneida Lake has strong winds and crazy shallow water and it’s impossible to get the boat far enough out against the wind to drop the centerboard (knee-deep shallow water for like 100 yards out) so the boat won’t flip when we raise the sail. And Husbian had a Bad Experience when we towed it to a lake in New Hampshire one summer and it made driving a nightmare. But maybe this summer when we take a trip to Keuka Lake! Shhhh! don’t tell him!

    And other things on that list? Swimming: pandemic. Backpacking: ornery kids. Painting: ummmm… inertia? Playing violin: I did it once this winter! Yay for me! Guitar: Yay for me! Did it several times before forgetting all about it!

    So you see, it’s all about loving your imperfect crafty self, and not judging yourself when you inevitably do not follow through on all or even any of your ideas. I never did learn slack-lining. I never became a dog trainer, or a cafe owner, or a full-time singer-songwriter, or a full-time artist, or a stand-up comic, or a professional writer, or a college professor, and I still have not done much journaling in an unlined notebook mixing writing, drawing, painting and collage, like Frida Khalo. But I DID learn ZenTangle and find a MINIATURE square (SQUARE!) sketchbook to draw my ZenTangle drawings in! And I got new pens for that, and did a cool life-hack by sticking my pen, pencil and blending stick to the cover of the slightly bigger but still small square (SQUARE!) sketchbook with velcro dots so I never have to look for them! And I did really take 3 consecutive ceramics classes for beginners and now I have 25 pounds of clay and a small home studio area in my basement laundry room that I spent a whole day cleaning out and I even had the perfect enameled metal table to use for ceramics, and I can start making things ANY DAY NOW and take them to my friend’s studio to glaze and fire them for less than the cost of a 4th class.

    So I am trying not to feel bad that I haven’t opened the 25 pound bag of clay yet. I’m just trying to keep my life in balance, going to yoga, walking my big aggressive dog for 4.5 miles in the park weekly because she can’t run off-leash with the normal dogs in the park, but this way we BOTH get exercise, going to work at the job I love (finally in my late 40’s I landed a job I can do happily until I retire!), watching Yellowjackets with Husbian every evening until we go to bed, reading for 10 hours per week on my subway commute (Yay!), making food, cleaning up, parenting, being a partner, meditating every morning before getting ready for work and then forgetting to meditate when it’s not a work day, sitting in my chair hammock if it’s not too cold or too hot outside (and using the mosquito netting I cleverly adapted for it from one meant to go over a bed! Genius!), playing music on my little speaker when I clean or shower, reading Autostraddle and commenting if I feel like it even if the A/S post was from 2009, and going on amazing vacations that Husbian is so good and planning (Skiing outside of Montreal! Camping in Maine! The Overlook Lodge – I mean the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood! Backpacking with the kids for their first time in Glacier National Park! Lakeside cabin in New Hampshire with my best friend and her daughter! The list goes on for the past 24 years!

    Life is about balance. Happiness may not exist but I feel the most joy when the elements in my life are in balance. Work, play, rest, love, joy, creativity, adventure, challenge, growth, excitement, etc.

    New ideas are so exciting and I have them all the time. The Menstrual Monsters I started drawing a few years ago, then made some into x-moose tree ornaments, then thought of putting them on tampon cases and underwear – it’s okay that I didn’t do the last two ideas yet! I still can! Maybe I will figure out how to put them on ceramic projects! Or Something! It’s all delicious Potential, which is a life force, it lets us know that we are alive, that we have hope, that we are expecting a future, and this is a spirit that can carry us through Hard Times, like pandemics, and horrible plutocracy, and capitalism, and dangerous political figures, and maybe war (no personal experience with that one so maybe not, but in the YA book series “Once” “Then” and “Now” the narrator shows how creativity can be a powerful act of resistance and hope, even if the Nazis kill you, because you can bury what you wrote or drew and hope that someone comes later in the future and sees it and sees you and your story will be known).

    So make what you make, think up all your amazing ideas, and try to do at least one thing from your all-time faves list on a regular basis, and don’t worry if you skip around and never do certain things. You could also get hit by a truck and never do anything at all again. If things from you new ideas lists don’t make it into your irl, and don’t make it into your all-time faves list, it’s ok. We are human. We are alive. We create. We also survive, and survival takes up a lot of our time and energy. Just working on earning money, feeding ourselves, and sleeping take up the majority of our time, so it’s no wonder we don’t create more. We have to survive first, then thrive, then create. Or mix and match. But it’s all ok. Ideas are not wrong. Love them and allow them to be or become something else, or sit on the back burner and percolate (as my first Karate Sensei used to say) so they can become what they will become.

    Okay, I think I am done now. I like to write and talk. A lot. And this topic gave me so many thoughts and words.

    I started taking ceramics classes in September, but in the past I could never think of a single thing to make if clay was in my hands. But my best friend opened her membership-based clay studio (lots of space for lots of paying members) in a new location with adult classes, so I signed up to support her new venture. It was pricey, and I thought it would be fun. But now I am hooked. I still have trouble throwing on a wheel, but I rock the slab and hand building! I have made so many lumpy things now! Some of them even came out great! Some of them were made in time for Pandemicmas!

  7. Congrats Vanessa you have written the article I have related to the most in my entire life!!!

    I thought I’d try being a Puzzle Person March 2020 cause of The World, and maybe frame them like my grandma does and make the cute frames, and that optimistically purchased cute Moomin puzzle is still sealed to this moment. I have a wicker basket full of clothes to cut up for parts and fabric which I intend to hand sew and has stayed unused for FOUR years. Maybe the hobby is just Having A Mending Basket? Anyway this is the most real thing

  8. Utterly relatable. I dare to say this has been my most successful winter of crafting in a long time, possibly ever. But there are still so many projects yet to be executed.

    I have been taking woodworking since September and verrrrry slowly working my way through a bench project (it’s a fancy bench but still). I think I will finish by May? I’ve taught myself to crochet and completed two small projects (a baby bunny hat for a friends baby and a crown for my niece) and am currently working on a slightly more ambitious medium-sized project.

    On the unfinished side of things, I started to make a whole set of needle felted bats for Halloween decor. I made 6 wire frames for them, 3 made it to the stage where they got wings and bodies, and one is actually finished with ears and all. Maybe by next Halloween. I’d also envisioned a Christmas tree skirt with each of the houses we’ve lived in embroidered on it. I bought the fabric for that and that is it. Also on the fabric buying front, I said that I was going to transition us to homemade fabric gift bags (no more wasteful wrapping paper) after Christmas. So I bought a couple yards of three different fabrics for that (overlooking the entire shelf of fabric I already had with no plans for it) and made the bags out of one of the three. I planned to make cross stitched portraits of our two cats that died last year (how queer is that?), but haven’t made it beyond creating the pattern (which I didn’t save). And these are just the projects I thought about long enough that I remember them at this point.

    I try to remember that there’s joy in imagining as well as creating

  9. not that i go down adhd rabbit holes around crafts, get a bunch of stuff, and then move on to a new interest before all the packages ship but…my craft room (yes, a whole room which is ABSURD for my broke student life) is very well stocked. sewing machine! patterns! fabric! buttons! embroidery projects! theatre makeup, but only for wounds! lots of markers! sketchbooks of all sizes! model airplanes! it doesn’t help that i nannied and teach preschool and like to test crafts at home before taking them to the classroom

    craft successes i’ve had include learning to give myself VERY realistic black eyes and making stage blood squibs (very useful for halloween); hobby woodworking to make cosplay arrows for a Hawkeye costume (woodworking IS easy!); sewing a vest (the buttons are attached very poorly and there are visibly crooked seams!); teaching myself to draw well enough to copy art from children’s books to decorate my classroom (pandemic hobby, 10/10 would recommend); and a lego renaissance! i built a model apollo 11 lunar lander over this past weekend and it was v satisfying. that’s much more a hobby than a craft though

    oh! i have painted furniture! not decoupage, but i turned a plain oak coffee table into a purple table with silver constellations. my thankfully-cheap kitchen table is poorly painted yellow and one day i’ll finish painting the chairs bright colors. i recommend not having a cat; having air conditioning; and waiting until the paint is really-really dry and not just mostly dry

  10. So very relatable. I have wanted to get into woodworking for years. Two years ago we moved into a house that has a refurbished garage that could serve perfectly as a woodshop (it’s even heated!). Our realtor also gifted us a set of power saws. I have yet to pick them up.

    In my defense, I really only have time to learn new hobbies in the summer, and the last two summers have sucked due to pandemic/heat dome/wildfire evacuation alerts/smoke. But if it’s nicer this summer I really have no excuse.

  11. When I read the Making Miniatures, Specifically Miniature Breakfast Food header I thought you meant actually edible miniature food – like, half an egg on a teeny bit of toast. I thought “oh, that would be very Martha Stewart of her, yes”. That the food would be made out of clay makes much more sense lmao but I’d also like to throw Making Tiny Food for No Reason into the ring.

    I am also a knitter! I would also like to get into needlepoint and embroidery, but also crochet. And most of all: taxidermy. There was a Martha Stewart Living photo essay circa…I want to say October 2015, and it had these glorious spreads of various taxidermy animals set up in little tableaus.

    You might be thinking: “Sollemnia, you literally don’t know how to cut your own food and you’ve never used a chemical stronger than turpentine. How the fuck are you going to preserve a whole animal?”

    And you would be right to think that!!! But someday I’m gonna be a sexy spinster with a house full of ethically sourced dead ravens AND NO ONE CAN STOP ME.

  12. I don’t know if you have any Woodcraft locations near you, but a friend of mine told me that they offer woodworking workshops, which sounds like a nice and easy way to dip your toes into woodworking without having to make a huge financial and spatial commitment by buying all the tools yourself.

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