With kits sent to your door, it's the perfect time to master a skill

Take delivery of a new hobby: With stunning kits sent to your door, it’s the perfect time to master a new skill

  • All-in-one hobby kits bring everything you need to learn something new to you
  • These arts and crafts ideas can help to fill plenty of hours of newly found time
  • Flic Everett recommends a Wine Discovery Case for fun without the fuss

How many times have you said: ‘Oh, I’d love to take up a new hobby . . .if only I had time.’ Well, now you have no excuse.

With no social life, no gym, no events — and for many, no work either — there are plenty of long hours that need filling.

But if you can’t join a class, and the shops are closed, where do you begin? Enter the hobby-in-a-box, posted to you with all the items you need to get started. 

There’s something for everyone. We put the all-in-one hobby kits to the test to find the best new lockdown pastimes . . .

If you can’t join a class, and the shops are closed, where do you begin? Enter the hobby-in-a-box, posted to you with all the items you need to get started (file image)

A NIGHTS ON THE TILES

Terrazzo tile kit and online workshop, £45, katiegillies.com

WHAT YOU GET: Two moulds, plastic sheet, cups and stirrers for mixing, five pigments (earthy or bright colours), eco-friendly Jesmonite powder and liquid to mix to create the tiles, plus sandpaper and wax.

The kit looks slightly daunting when unpacked but the instructional video is clear and I’m soon well on my way to making those pretty speckled tiles you find across the Med.

The kit looks slightly daunting when unpacked but the instructional video is clear and I’m soon well on my way to making those pretty speckled tiles (pictured)

Enjoy educational evening tipples 

Wines that come in the case pictured

Wine Discovery Case, first box from £48, wanderlustwine.co.uk

What you get: Four bottles every two months with a Silver membership (eight with Gold, ten with Platinum). Each contains a mix of sparkling, red and white organic wines from exclusive producers.

Wanderlust offers a ‘wine club’ where buyers can download tasting notes to read as they sip.

I more or less stopped drinking a few years ago, but in lockdown, needs must! My four bottles include a white 2018 Burgundy, a 2017 Hungarian Riesling, an Argentinian Malbec and a 2017 Spanish Rioja, all from small-scale producers. My partner is only too happy to join in with a good sniff and swirl, and makes a convincing show of reading the notes.

A great way to expand your wine knowledge, and a selection you won’t find in supermarkets.

FUN FACTOR: 5/5 FUSS FACTOR: 0/5 

I combine the Jesmonite powder provided with different pigments (a little goes a long way, as I find when my attempt at duck-egg blue turns navy), paint the mixture onto the plastic sheet, wait ten minutes, crush it up and boom — colourful resin chips.

Next, I mix more powder with the tile liquid to form the white parts of the tiles. Finally I pour the lot into moulds and wait for them to dry . . . then the fun stops.

The tiles must be wet-sanded down so the chips show through, which involves 20 minutes of aching hands and dust. Then I can wax my tiles and, to my joy, they look polished and professional.

FUN FACTOR: 4/5

FUSS FACTOR: 3/5

WRITE LIKE MEGHAN 

Beginners’ Modern Calligraphy Kit and online workshop, £35, wildsea calligraphy.com

WHAT YOU GET: Instruction book, pen holder, pen, pencil, ink, paper, postcard and link to workshop.

If it’s good enough for Meghan Markle, who used to hand-calligraph invitation cards, I’ll give it a go. Beautiful writing is not my forte (‘medical notes written by a spider’ was one description), but the box looks beautiful. An instruction booklet is a pleasant change from downloads.

At my first attempt, I drip ink all over the page like some wayward Victorian child. The whole thing is quite 19th century, as instructions include: ‘Sit up as straight as possible, you’ll get back ache if you slouch.’ I begin with ‘practice drills’ of different pen strokes and there’s a sheet of letters to trace.

I don’t think Meghan needs to worry that I’ll steal her crown – but it is very calming.

FUN FACTOR: 3/5 FUSS FACTOR: 2/5

At my first attempt, I drip ink all over the page like some wayward Victorian child

YOU CAN GET KNITTED! 

Beginners’ snood kit, £37.50, woolandthe gang.com

WHAT YOU GET: A ball of Peruvian Wool, snood pattern, pair of 15mm knitting needles, sewing needle, label.

I’ve never been any good at knitting (a scarf for my Barbie ended up like a mummy’s shroud because I didn’t know how to cast off) but Wool And The Gang are the experts, and promise that their snood kit is for beginners.

All their patterns are stylish, without a hint of the lumpy, nan-crafted cardigans I associate with home knitting. I manage to cast on (via online tutorial), and, after more instructive videos, I knit a few rows.

If I were to watch many more tutorials, I might complete my snood by Christmas 2027.

However, if you have the fundamentals it’s perfect — and the wool feels lovely.

FUN FACTOR: 2/5 FUSS FACTOR: 4/5

A GREEN THUMBS-UP

Outdoor gardening kit, £45 a month or pay as you go, lazy flora.com

WHAT YOU GET: Seven pots of low-maintenance assorted plants, bag of compost, gloves, full description and care instructions.

I am a terrible gardener. But I do love to look at flowers and, at the moment, gardens are at a premium. You can get a kit of indoor plants if you don’t have outside space. All I have to do is water them. The gentlest way imaginable to start a new passion.

FUN FACTOR: 5/5 FUSS FACTOR: 2/5

You can get a kit of indoor plants if you don’t have outside space. All I have to do is water them

JUST COASTING ALONG

Washi Tape Coasters Kit, £20 a month or £58 for three months, craftboxclub.co.uk

WHAT YOU GET: Four square ceramic tiles, six rolls of Washi Tape, glue, brush, cork tile backs.

Washi Tape is like masking tape, but smooth and durable. This Japanese invention can be used to make beautiful patterns.

I make a different pattern on each tile using the tape. There’s clear drying glue and a brush to seal the patterns and make my coasters heat-proof

I use it to decorate ceramic coasters, though subscribers get a different craft each month. You watch a three-minute how-to video first, and once I get going the next hour flies by. Applying and peeling is very meditative.

I make a different pattern on each tile using the tape. There’s clear drying glue and a brush to seal the patterns and make my coasters heat-proof. This is less calming, but I manage to neaten my glue before it dries clear.

It’s enjoyable, contemplative and with foolproof results (though I’d suggest a smaller brush).

FUN FACTOR: 5/5 FUSS FACTOR: 3/5

GIVE THE DOG A BOW

Dog Bow-Tie Craft Kit, £15, barks andsqueaks.com

WHAT YOU GET: Fabric for two bow-ties, chalk, needle, thread, pins, elastic, your own label, downloadable instructions and templates.

I hated sewing at school. My ‘simple wrap skirt’ was so bad the teacher took it home to redo it.

So I don’t have great hopes for this cute, dog bow-tie sewing kit. I download the instructions, but am baffled by references to ‘back stitching’ and folding the fabric.

I hated sewing at school. My ‘simple wrap skirt’ was so bad the teacher took it home to redo it

I make a template using tailor’s chalk and cut out the spotty fabric. I use the only stitch I know (in and out) and things get complex when it’s time to add elastic.

There’s some business with pins and turning things inside out. I don’t think the dogs will be modelling my creations on Instagram, but it’s great for anyone who can sew to be able to ‘run things up’.

FUN FACTOR: 3/5 FUSS FACTOR: 4/5

TOP DRAWER FUN 

Box of art supplies, £15 a month, scrawlrbox.co.uk.

WHAT YOU GET: Three triple-nibbed blending felt tips, one black fine-nibbed drawing pen, pencil, eraser, drawing pad, inspiring print, tips, some sweets.

I loved art at school and always intend to return to it ‘when I’m less busy’ (I’m 49). This box of inspiring art materials has a prompt-word to get you going — this month’s is ‘imaginarium’. 

‘Art’ can sound daunting, but a focused box like this is the perfect stepping stone. I see myself doing this often 

I love the chunky markers and am enthused by the question: ‘if you had to draw your imagination, what sort of place would this be?’ I’m as carefree as a child, scribbling away. 

‘Art’ can sound daunting, but a focused box like this is the perfect stepping stone. I see myself doing this often.

FUN FACTOR: 5/5 FUSS FACTOR: 1/5 

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