The retro hobbies and pastimes making a comeback in self-isolation

Apr 16, 2020
Knitting is just one of the crafts that is enjoying a resurgence among those in self-isolation. Source: Getty.

As the world continues to tackle the outbreak of Covid-19, people are looking for new and interesting ways to keep themselves – and their families – entertained whilst they follow the rules and remain indoors. The first port of call for many people, particularly younger generations, may be to turn to electronic devices or streaming services such as Netflix, Stan and Foxtel to catch up on their favourite shows or movies. But lounging on the couch all day can become boring quickly.

With that in mind, many “old-school” pastimes are now enjoying a resurgence in popularity, from the likes of knitting and home sewing, to puzzles and even baking. In fact, retailer Spotlight has reportedly done more business in recent weeks than they typically see in the run-up to Christmas, proving that many Aussies are turning to crafts as a way of keeping themselves busy until the self-isolation guidelines are lifted.

Here are the most popular pastimes enjoying a resurgence right now – and we bet you enjoyed most of them as a child.


People might stereotypically associate knitting with being the hobby of choice of elderly women, but the knitting bug has bitten people of all ages amid the ongoing coronavirus emergency.

From creating simple items, such as hats, scarves and shawls, to more elaborate designs, knitters of all levels have taken to social media to show off the projects they’ve started since entering lockdown.

There are also a number of websites and blogs which offer free patterns and tutorials for those hoping to learn a new skill whilst in self-isolation, and YouTube videos can prove very helpful when it comes to troubleshooting any issues, particularly now that attending a knitting or craft club for help and support is not possible.

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Hello from our bubble! How are you doing? I'm seeing so many gorgeous makes out there but also others with little bandwidth for creativity right now. . I'm making slow but pretty progress on my #mylittlesecretcrop, I'm honestly not knitting anywhere near as much as I would usually and this rhythmic ribbing is about all I have the concentration for. I forgot to use a smaller needle for the bottom band so even simple things are escaping me at the moment 😂 . That said…. I'm THINKING about knitting ALL. THE. THINGS. I'm really grateful for my stash right now and plan to take some time to squish a bit over the long weekend and maybe put some yarn & patterns together. That might calm my wish knitting overdrive a bit! . #knittersofinstagram #knitstagram #knitting #yarn #yarnlove #knittersofaotearoa #isoknitting #jessiemaeddesigns #stashbusting #marledknits #stayhomesavelives

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Needlecraft and sewing

For many people, there is something therapeutic about switching off for a moment and using their hands to create something. So it’s no surprise that sewing and other needlecrafts, including embroidery and cross-stitch, are becoming popular at this time.

In fact, many Facebook groups have already cropped up as people look for advice and to share their creations with other like-minded individuals. One such place is the Starts at 60 Crafter’s Club, which you can check out by clicking here.

From clothing and homewares to in-demand items such as face masks and even medical scrubs, sewing can be a very productive way to while away the extra hours at home.


One of the first items to disappear from supermarket shelves, as panic-buying swept the nation, was flour, followed quickly by the likes of eggs and yeast. And the reason for this is simple, Australians are giving home baking a red hot go!

From baking fresh bread from scratch, to making Easter-themed goods such as cakes and hot cross buns, many people have been inspired to occupy their time in self-isolation by trying to boost their skills in the kitchen.

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I have a bread baking fascination of late, it’s becoming my most favourite thing to do. The more I bake bread, the more I learn new tips and tricks, I love watching the starter grow, I love reading different recipes then reading the comments other bread baking punters have written. This sourdough loaf is my greatest bread achievement yet, it’s fast becoming a labour of love, I love knowing that with a few basic ingredients, lots of time & dedication you can create something like this. So at 10.20pm, breads out the oven and I can now go to bed. PS, breakfast is going to be epic! Edit: ok so I wasn’t going to cut the bread until the morning but my piss weak will power failed me again … I’m trying to think of a really descriptive word to describe it but other than ‘Holy crap the crust is so chewy (just like a sourdough should be) with a dense but light crumb with lots of air bubbles’ … sigh, it is sooo good 👩🏽‍🍳. #argiricooks #sourdoughbread #homemade #thermomix #isobaking #isosourdough #bread #mother #starter #scratch #sourdoughofinstagram #whyalla #southaustralia #sophiaskitchen #covid19 #stayhome

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Most people have a stash of old board games at the back of a wardrobe, so why not use this extra free time to dust them off and challenge others in your household to a game of Monopoly, Uno, Pictionary or Scrabble. The list is endless!

Or, if you’re isolating alone, don’t fret, as many people have begun using video technology and apps to play games with families and friends across the country, or even further afield.

If you’re unsure which app to download, or how to make video calls – including group calls – read our guide here.

Jigsaw puzzles

We all enjoyed – or maybe not – spending hours poring over complex jigsaw puzzles as children, but as the stresses of daily life take over, it’s not often we have time enough to dedicate to completing a puzzle.

Since lockdown restrictions were implemented though, the sale of jigsaws has skyrocketed, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison even confessing that it’s one of the ways he, wife Jenny and their two daughters, Lily and Abbey, are passing the time in self-isolation.

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Day 1 of new 3000 piece #jigsawpuzzle #oldpeopledoingthings

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Do you enjoy any of these hobbies?

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