For a relaxing craft that requires few tools other than thread and a needle, try needle tatting. The history of shuttle tatting goes back several centuries, but, needle tatting appears in the early 1800s.
Needle tatting uses a long needle with an eye; the double stitches are made directly on the needle and pulled through to form the ring or chain. For an article that give a good overview of the craft go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tatting#History
I have found some my best tatting patterns in books from the middle to late 1800s. I will endeavor to share some with you and photos of the finished products.