Winter is here. While I thoroughly enjoy the holiday season, I have to admit that winter is just not my favorite! I love to be outside, but winter is so cold that it keeps me inside most of the time. Luckily, there’s lots of things you can do in the winter to keep yourself occupied. I like to focus on self reliance skill building, while I’m stuck inside.

10 skill building hobbies while you're stuck inside

There are several self reliance skills that are perfect for learning in the wintertime. Here are our favorites.


Learn to sew.

Even if you’ve never sewed a stitch, you can learn to sew pretty easily. YouTube is a great resource! You can learn to mend your clothes if they need repair, or sew a new piece of clothing. Either one you choose, it will help you save money. Especially if you can sew your kids’ clothes. Kids go through so many clothes!

I know many homesteaders that sew their children’s clothes in order to save a bunch of money. And my mom told me that when she was young, people would even darn (mend) their socks to save money. Talk about frugal!


Learn to knit or crochet.

This is one thing that I hope to learn soon. I think it would be lots of fun (and also be helpful and frugal!) to be able to crochet or knit hats, gloves, etc. My daughter taught herself how to crochet from the internet. I’m sure I can, too, if I actually make time for it. Maybe when if life slows down a little!



Whether it’s just curling up with a good novel, reading a non-fiction book, or researching on the internet, you can learn so much by reading! You can borrow books from the library to learn something you’ve been wanting to learn. Amazon has endless possibilities on books to buy.

I personally LOVE reading blog articles that I find through Pinterest. There is such a wealth of information out there. Maybe you came across this one from Pinterest? (If so, make sure you follow me!)


Learn to cook or bake.

Most of us still have room for skill building in the kitchen. Cooking good, homemade food is not as commonplace as it used to be. Why not learn to bake your own bread?

Learn how to make real food from real, simple ingredients. It is so much healthier than the processed stuff at the store. You will save money and learn to use more of the stuff you grow yourself. It will also help you to be able to cook from your food storage so you can be more self-reliant.


Person holding fresh baked bread wrapped in a towel
Learn to bake your own bread


Learn to make cheese.

Or yogurt, or butter! If you have dairy animals, you owe it to yourself to learn how to use all that milk! One thing I have learned, is that if you have goats, you won’t get as much cream. Goats’ milk is naturally homogenized, which means that the cream doesn’t separate as well. So it’s a lot harder to use goats milk for cheese, butter, and yogurt. 

We had a dairy cow for awhile, but it turned out to be so much work, and we had too much other “stuff” going on at the time. Make sure you have the time and resources required before getting a milk animal.


Learn to tan hides.

If you hunt or raise rabbits, you might have some hides that you want to do something with. Ideally, part of homesteading is using every part of the animals you butcher. If you get good at it, it can even be an income source for your family!  You just need a garage or somewhere that you can keep the hides dry. Since I’m raising meat rabbits anyway, I will be doing this with my rabbit pelts.

What if you could tan some hides and make some ear muffs? Or a hat? Or some mittens? The possibilities are endless. Just combine the tanning with the sewing and you’ve got it made!


Learn to can or dehydrate.

If you plan on growing a garden, it is so important to know what to do with your surplus of veggies. I would definitely suggest learning to can and dehydrate. That way you don’t waste the food that you put so much effort into. Not only will you be able to enjoy your homegrown vegetables year-round, you’ll also be able to work on your food storage. Talk about a win-win!

Chances are you don’t have much food left from the garden this year to can or dehydrate. That’s ok! You can practice by buying some veggies and canning or dehydrating them. You can usually even get a better price if you buy in bulk. So go buy some stuff to preserve!


Canned food on shelves
Learn to can your own homegrown food


DIY some home decor items.

Crafting is so much fun! I usually don’t get a chance to do it when it’s nice outside, so winter is the perfect time to DIY some home decor items. If you like to draw or paint, why not make a new picture for your wall? Maybe you can do some wood working?

I love to browse Pinterest for ideas! This is another idea that you could turn into income if you’re good at it and can find a market for it.

I have a post about making a DIY Horseshoe Farm Sign here.


Learn about herbs.

Have you ever wanted to learn about herbs? Winter is the perfect time to devote some time into studying herbs. It’s usually a good idea to go hands-on with the herbs, but it’s easy enough to order the ones that you want to work with. I personally recommend Starwest Botanicals.

Maybe you can even check into an herbal studies course. Herbal Academy is great (not an affiliate, I just love them). 


Learn to make candles.

Candles are fun and practical! You can get started relatively cheaply. It’s so fun to experiment with different scents and colors. I enjoy candles with essential oils instead of chemical fragrances, but of course that’s just a personal preference.

You can give these as gifts, or enjoy in your own home or office. You can even make unscented ones very inexpensively to use in your emergency preps.


Melted, burning candles
Learn how to make your own candles

I hope I have given you some ideas on what skill building you can do when you’re stuck in the house for the winter. I will be doing more of these when I have more time. The day job and this passion project have been taking up lots of my time.

Skill building doesn’t have to be a drag. Find a hobby that you enjoy doing, that can help you in other ways! Do you have any other suggestions that I should add? Please add your ideas in the comments below!

For 2021, I will be learning 1 new self reliance skill every week, for my new project, 52 Self Reliance Skills In a Year. Subscribe to follow along! Each week will have a new post and YouTube video, telling all about the new skill I learned that week. 

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This post may be shared on Family Homesteading and Off The Grid Blog HopSimple Homestead Blog HopFarm Fresh Tuesday, and Old Paths to New Homesteading & Self-Reliant Living.



  1. I love these! I can already do most, but have plans to improve some of my skills – such as baking breads. I also want to learn how to tan hides, as The Country Boy hunts. Great article!

    1. Thank you, Julie! My hubs hunts too, so I’m definitely going to give the leather tanning a go.

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