With many of us hunkering down for the Winter season and new Covid restrictions coming in left, right and centre, it might be time for us to re-embrace the at-home lifestyle once more. There is plenty amongst the pages of Austen's works to inspire us when we're looking for great at home hobbies and crafts.
Take up needlework
There has never been a better time to learn how to sew, embroider and repair your own clothes. Firstly, it's great for the environment to be able to work at your own outfits, repair tears and stitch up holes; secondly, people have never been so creative with their hoop embroidery. You could even stitch your favourite Austen quote to hang up in your house. With Christmas on the horizon, I'm sure that your friends would appreciate a handmade gift now more than ever.
"Is not there a something wanted, Miss Price, in our language—a something between compliments and—and love—to suit the sort of friendly acquaintance we have had together? So many months' acquaintance! But compliments may be sufficient here. Was his letter a long one? Does he give you much account of what he is doing? Is it Christmas gaieties that he is staying for?"
In Austen's time, writing letters was just how people communicated. Nowadays, most of us probably associate mail with bills, junk and on nicer occasions, an Easter card from an older relative. These days, a properly handwritten letter is a real novelty and a lovely, thoughtful surprise. There are even websites dedicated to finding yourself a snail-mail friend! If that sounds like a lot of work to you, maybe just put a little more effort than usual into your Christmas card list, or rediscover the lost early-century art of e-mailing.
Become an accomplished Pianoforte player
At last Jane began, and though the first bars were feebly given, the powers of the instrument were gradually done full justice to. Mrs. Weston had been delighted before, and was delighted again; Emma joined her in all her praise; and the pianoforte, with every proper discrimination, was pronounced to be altogether of the highest promise.
Perhaps, as a child, you were forced to learn the clarinet by a parent, or perhaps you enthusiastically rocked up to orchestra every week, violin case in hand. Maybe, learning an instrument has never been for you. Learning an instrument for yourself rather than for others can be a deeply rewarding and meditative process. There's no need for it to be expensive either- many people on websites like Gumtree are practically giving away their old instruments, and there are loads of places to learn how to read sheet music.
Are you taking up any new indoor hobbies for the winter? Maybe you're thinking about taking up cooking. Let us know in the comments!
Ellen White is editor of the Jane Austen Centre blog. She would love to hear from you! Check out our Submission Guidelines and get in touch.