General Question

zenzen's avatar

What are some activities or hobbies you've decided (and succeeded) to learn/do on your own - outside an institution or framework?

Asked by zenzen (4057points) April 12th, 2013

It could be anything – from yoga and exercise, to learning something online…

I’m curious because I can’t seem to do anything without structure… without discipline and routine I quickly drop out…

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18 Answers

Cupcake's avatar

I made a few pieces of artwork with pastels. I’ve never had an art class in my life.

marinelife's avatar

Cooking and gardening.

syz's avatar

Rock climbing.

zenzen's avatar

Elaboration would be appreciated.

thorninmud's avatar

Woodturning (shaping wood on a lathe) and wheel-throwing (shaping clay on a potter’s wheel).

I would much rather have had some guidance for both, but have never had the time/money for classes. So I did lots of reading, watched lots of videos, and made lots of mistakes.

The wheel-throwing was very forgiving. It’s difficult to do well, but the raw material (the clay) is cheap, and if you screw up a pot, you just mush the clay back up and try again; all you’ve lost is some time.

Not so with the woodturning. Nice wood can be very expensive, and it’s unbelievably easy to destroy it with just a slight little slip. So many times I’ve spent a good hour on something, only to wreck it at the very end. And the failures can be quite dramatic, since the thing is turning at around 2000 RPMs. I have lots of very pretty firewood. Builds character, I guess.

Sunny2's avatar

Sudoku. I wanted to do something to keep my brain exercising. I have never done well with number concepts and I knew nothing about sudoku. Without knowing any more than that there are nine numbers in each square and row, I tried to work them out. I went from putting all the possible numbers in each square to occasionally being able to complete a 6* puzzle. What I’ve experienced is looking on as my brain worked without my consciously participating. There are still things I haven’t learned about it yet, but I’m enjoying the process.

Seek's avatar

I like to repair and refinish wood furniture.

My husband does hardwood floors, so we have most of the tools and materials lying about all the time, so occasionally I’ll pick up a piece off the side of the road or in a Dumpster, take it home, finish it up, and replace something less awesome in my house.

I’ve currently got a set of dining room chairs, a coffee table, and three end tables that I’ve refinished in my house.

gailcalled's avatar

Knitting, crocheting, quilting, furniture refinishing, d├ęcoupage, needlepoint, rug making, stenciling, cooking, gardening, landscape architecture, birding.

Dutchess_III's avatar


YARNLADY's avatar

Knitting, quilting, needlepoint, cooking, installing sod, homeschooling

antimatter's avatar

@Dutchess_III aaaw you said it before I could say it, Fluthering. Well I stumbled upon a program that can create stunning 3D art and been hooked on it ever since.

bea2345's avatar

Making boxes out of paper and cardboard. I had that hobby for several years.

wildpotato's avatar

I learned to knit and crochet entirely on my own. I learned to spin as an independant project with no guidance as a unit in my weaving class (learning to weave required a lot of structure), so I suppose that counts too. Spinning is my favorite – I use a spindle and it’s very meditative. I want to learn the wheel when I get room for one.

I learned to kayak with no instruction, though I am planning on taking a class to learn to roll at some point.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Knitting. I taught myself from some how-to booklets, worked my way to an advanced level, and now design and create all sorts of things.

Cooking. Mom didn’t like to cook, so we always had the same series of meals in rotation (tasty, balanced, and healthful meals, I should add). By contrast, I was very happy in the kitchen, and I wanted to become a really good cook. I got some cookbooks and jumped right in. I had some early disasters; I had no fundamental skills, and I didn’t know how to sift, fold, cream, etc. But, I learned from all my mistakes.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Many years ago, when I was doing my Master’s research using a TRS-80 model I computer, I need to accurately measure the timing of events that occurred on the keyboard. The computer could only perform functions built into the MBasic language built into the computer.

I have to learn Machine Language programming for that machine and after writing the code sequences I needed for each function, I had to reserve some memory space where the code could reside without being disturbed by other processes. I then had to store the numerical codes for each piece of the machine language but stuffing them into the reserved space one byte at a time. Each reserved space was assigned a name and then I used the MBasic language to jump to that place and execute the machine language code stored there. Of course at the end of each such location was the code for RETURN, so control would revert to the Mbasic language that ran the rest of the process. These sets of codes were machine language subroutines that could access internal processes of the computer’s real time clock, processor and the places where the state of each key on the keyboard was contained.

I was so excited when I finally got it all to work the way I wanted. I was even more thrilled when I found a way to convert the interpreted MBasic commands to compiled assembly language so the program ran as fast as the computer’s Z-80 brain could operate.

What started off as a simple task of programming the computer to record my psychology research subjects responses turned into a self-taught course in programming the computer at the level of the hardware of which it was composed.

It may not sound like much fun to some of you, but I learned so much and felt so excited by doing it all myself that it was the peak experience of getting my degree. I had other opportunities to do other fancy stuff with computers long before the original IBM PC was catching on in the business environment.

I did not even bother with PCs for years because I had learned how to get maximum horsepower out of much more primitive machines. I waited until Windows 3.3 was running on the early Pentium processors before I made the switch from 8-bit z-80 based machines with at most 5 megabyte hard drives to those PCs that were starting to be more powerful and easier to use that what I used.

Bellatrix's avatar

Photography. I did do one short course but since then I buy books, magazines and research online. I find YouTube really helpful. So I wanted to take some city shots and looked on YouTube for some tips and then tried it out. I also use magazines to look at photos and see what people did, used and then try it myself.

I should say I am learning and very much a beginner. The thing I miss is having someone to evaluate my photos and give me good feedback on what I could have done and should have done.

rooeytoo's avatar

Woodcarving, I discovered I have a natural affinity for it. I groomed show dogs for many years and that is sculpting the hair on a dog to hide its imperfections and accentuate its good points. So when I picked up the angle grinder and approached the wood the motions are so similar it was easy for me. My favorite is to take a twisty, curvy piece of tree and find a creature in it. The easiest way to do it is to flatten the sides of the branch a bit and draw onto it what you want to carve in profile. Grind it out and then shape it. Start with a simple shape like a whale. It is fun and profitable if you get good. Here are some crosses I just did for a client. He wanted to use them on some panels on a cupboard or something like that. And here is a goose I did. I sell them to gift shops and I have a gallery who sells them as well. I just bought a book from ebay of antique duck decoys, I can’t wait to get that. I am sure it will provide new ideas too.

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