If you've already failed to make good on your Western New Year's resolution, now's the time to seize the second chance that is Chinese New Year's resolutions! And who are we kidding... anything fitness related is doomed to fail. So why not pick up a new hobby that doesn't result in buckets of sweat and dry heaving? 

For that, as always, we turn to Taobao (after all, online shopping is kind of a hobby in itself). Here's but a few options to help you make the Year of the Tiger your craftiest year yet!


The art of pretty handwriting requires practice and immense patience, but it also requires special equipment. For Chinese characters, a brush is traditionally used, while a fountain pen is used for alphabetic calligraphy. (Note that both brushes usually must be dipped in ink before use, while a fountain pen may either be dipped or use an ink cartridge.) But whether you are looking to delve into a Chinese cultural pastime or simply to write fancy letters to your crush, both types of instrument essentially create the same effect: strokes become wider when pressed harder and narrower when pressed lightly against the paper, thus creating a more dynamic script.

Search keywords to get started on this hobby:

  • Calligraphy pen: 书法笔 shūfǎ bǐ
  • Calligraphy brush: 毛笔 máobǐ
  • Fountain pen: 钢笔 gāngbǐ
  • Ink: 墨水 mòshuǐ (also try: 墨水钢笔用 mòshuǐ gāngbǐ yòng or 墨水毛笔用 mòshuǐ máobǐ yòng)
  • (Chinese) calligraphy paper: 书法纸 shūfǎ zhǐ
  • Ink tray: 砚台 yàntai


It’s not just for grandmas anymore. These days, knitting is enjoyed by crafty individuals of all ages and genders. Eager to combat consumerism, these needle warriors spend their money on yarn rather than opening up their wallet to Uniqlo. Once you learn your stitches, you too can keep warm under your own self-made blanket, or even warm the hearts of the kiddos in your life by making them a stuffed animal.

Search keywords to get started on this hobby:

  • Knitting needles: 毛线镇 máoxiàn zhèn
  • Crochet hook: 钩针 gōuzhēn
  • Yarn: 毛线 máoxiàn
  • Knitting pattern: 编织图案 biānzhī tú'àn

Needle felting

If you're the type of person who keeps little trinkets around your desk, consider making your own trinkets out of felt. Taobao has plenty of starter packs with various colors of raw felt as well as the specific type of needle you will need to create your tiny masterpieces. (If you have some yarn lying around, you can avoid buying the felt by tearing the yarn into shreds to create your own felt.) Note that, as far as three-dimensional creations go, needle felting is much more time consuming than, say, clay sculpting. On the other hand, you won’t need access to a kiln.

Once you get the hang of it, you can easily start getting creative with your own ideas, but if you want to start out with a preset design, those are easy to find as well.

(Warning: These needles are very sharp and should not be handled by very young children.)

Search keywords to get started on this hobby:

  • Needle felting: 羊毛毡戳戳乐 yáng máozhān chuō chuō lè
  • Needle felting needle: 戳针 chuō zhēn
  • Do-it-yourself felting tools: 毛毡手工DIY工具 máozhān shǒugōng DIY gōngjù
  • Felting brush base: 毛毡 底刷 máozhān dǐ shuā

Candle Making

It’s important to keep a nice-smelling home, and while Taobao has plenty of pre-made candles for your aromatic enjoyment, it might be cheaper to make them yourself if you go through a lot of them. It is also a hobby that welcomes experimentation, making it great for passing the time. Purchase a do-it-yourself kit or get the items separately.

Search keywords to get started on this hobby:

  • Paraffin wax: 石蜡 shílà
  • Beeswax (for candle making): 蜂蜡 (蜡烛用) fēnglà (làzhú yòng)
  • Wick: 烛芯 zhú xīn
  • Fragrance oils: 香精油 xiāng jīngyóu
  • Kitchen thermometer: 温度计厨房用 wēndùjì chúfáng yòng
  • Melting pot: 融化锅 rónghuà guō
  • Glass Jar: 玻璃罐 bōlí guàn

Chain Jewelry Making

Another option with a wide range of possibilities, chain weaving offers novice crafters a challenging road ahead as they move from basic patterns up to the more complex (and beautiful) weaves. A chain by itself can make a lovely bracelet or necklace, but adding beads or pendants can be fun as well.

Search keywords to get started on this hobby:

  • 1mm/2mm/3mm metal wire: 1mm/2mm/3mm金属线 jīnshǔ xiàn
  • Jewelry pliers: 首饰钳子 shǒushì qiánzi

Adult Coloring Books

Looking for a more meditative hobby? Maybe it’s time to start coloring again. Adult coloring books can be a great way to clear your mind and foster self-validation.

Search keywords to get started on this hobby:

  • Meditation coloring book: 心理减压涂色书 xīnlǐ jiǎn yā tú sè shū
  • Colored pencils: 彩色铅笔 cǎisè qiānbǐ

READ: Read Up on Beijing With These Essays and Articles

Images: Jasmin Schreiber (via Unsplash), Niketh Vellanki (via Unsplash), Ursula Castillo (via Unsplash), Lincolnshire Fenn Crafts, CourseHorse, Amanda Jones (via Unsplash)


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