Jan. 3rd, 2008

This was the most time I’ve had off without being unemployed or unable to get out of bed. I didn’t know I was going to be able to do it until almost the last minute, so… after a big push to try to get some work out, my days off started on the 21st.

Let me say that my favorite holiday is actually sometime in the first week of January, when your otherwise well-meaning coworkers quit asking (both you and) each other about what they did over the holidays. Life back to normal. Thank deity.

That said, I always have a little twinge of disappointment at Christmas. I voluntarily don’t ‘do holidays’ because I just don’t want to deal with the mandatory socializing involved, and I’ve really got more to do than put up decorations most years - I have plenty of lovely ones, but this year I wanted to spend the time in some other pursuit. I make a serious effort not to get all butthurt over everyone else’s lists of terrific swag, although it pinches a little. I honestly cannot afford to get the sort of gifts I want to get for various friends, and that’s not even taking into account tracking them down and shipping them - if I weren’t so frazzled this wouldn’t be a problem. So, I figure I have no right to any sort of disappointment whatsoever - especially since I honestly have most things that I need, and right now my frame of mind isn’t very accepting of anything that’s not an absolute necessity. Also, I’ve got myself caught up to the point where there’s only one thing on my list that I honestly need - a general contractor, to start work on TudorHouse’s restoration/maintenance/improvement issues. When that’s what you need, going and getting yourself an ice cream doesn’t cut it. It’s frustrating - I’m starting to make headway against the bills, I’ve got enough to eat - but the thing I need is huge, and would involve trying to get a sizable loan while my credit score (temporarily) sucks rocks.

Add this to the fact that I come from a rather privileged background, and when I was a kid, I made out like a bandit on Christmas. It almost made up for having to put up with my family. Just before Christmas, I was thinking about the “last good year” - which was 1973. The last year we had anything resembling money, the last year anyone could stand to be in the same room with anyone else (which I believe was enabled largely by said money). Thank deity I had kind friends who I could visit over holidays, although my mother constantly kicked up a huge fuss over that. (She was one of those people who thought that not spending every possible holiday, including Arbor Day, at an elaborate sit-down meal with the entire extended family was positively evil, “sad”, and that there was something seriously morally and psychologically wrong with anyone who did not think exactly like she did. )

I admit that I miss the haul. I’ve tried to be all mature about it, but when the emails come trickling in about the lovely books, equipment, goodies, and miscellanea others have received, I feel a very unwelcome twinge of envy. I want to be able to say that I got all kinds of lovely stuff too, that my friends were well off enough that it wouldn’t be a burden to them, and that I had someone who thought so much of me that they could do that without sacrifice on their part. And... the stuff. Always the stuff.

I do get myself something for getting through the year, something I’ve been wanting and have been looking at for a while, but I feel a tremendous embarrassment over the fact that I pick out and buy my own gifts, even though this makes the most sense in the world. So, this year it was this. It even came in time. There are 39 pages of instructions with it, and it is twenty kinds of cool. It’s one of those outfit-of-a-lifetime things - a tremendous amount of work involved, but the payoff will be exquisite. (Even if I will still look like a lumpy loveseat in it.)

The other thing I did was that I got a secondhand digital camera. So, once I work out how to use it properly and upload the pictures, you guys are going to be stuck looking at them. My previous photography adventures have all involved a Pentax manual SLR - which requires you to actually learn how to focus, set the exposure, etc., etc. Which I did, and did reasonably well. The digital camera, though? Lots of little symbols that I have yet to decipher, and ninety features that I may or may not ever figure out. I think my problem with it is that I don’t automatically assume what’s obvious. I’ve printed out a copy of the manual, so…

So what did I do for 12 days? You’d think I’d have cleaned the whole house from top to bottom, made a complete 16thC outfit, gone somewhere, done something, but the truth is - I stayed quietly at home. Mostly I worked on the cheat bag (that’s not a typo for sweet bag. I’ll ‘splain in a minute.), made a gift for [livejournal.com profile] clearbell’s birthday, and finally tackled the fitting issues with the beta-test smock.

The cheat bag is actually a bit from a 1971 (really) Erica Wilson needlework kit I got in a thrift store for three dollars. It was meant to be made up into an evening purse. However, I took one look at the design, recognized it as being nearly identical to a cushion cover in the V&A, and thought it deserved better than the kit’s original intent. However, I wasn’t really sure what that was going to be until recently. It’s real linen, the crewel yarn supplied with it was early-70s scary and got made into cat toys. Instead of merely outlining all of the figures, I did all of them solid in split stitch, and while I had misgivings at first, it’s turning out not half bad. The embroidery is about 80% complete - after that I just need to sew it into a little bag, make some cording and tassels, and hey presto! Nice handy little thing I can put my checkbook in at events. Since it’s not an actual sweet bag design, nor did I draw it out myself, I’m calling it the cheat bag. But the embroidery isn’t too bad, and the colors are working out better than expected.

The beta-test smock… mocks me. I can hear it sniggering whenever I open the workroom door. It’s a square necked smock, which is always a pain to fit on me; I knew it was going to be, which is why it’s the beta-test smock. In some fit of overreaching, I embroidered a row of rather nice Tudor roses on the front of it, which worked pretty well and didn’t look entirely too PreRaphaelite. All of this would be fine, except that - I originally cut the long panel (front and back) in a size that would actually encompass my actual adiposity, without thinking that I’d be swimming in the shoulders and armscye. I knew I’d have to cut it back a little, but no matter - there was plenty of room.

So I cut it back to fit my shoulders. Made up as originally intended, it would have fit beautifully if I’d been about a size 6. However, I am not, not even close. Now I had the problem of needing to put in side panels so I could even think about getting into it, AND I was sufficiently disgusted with myself that I wasn’t going to allow myself any additional yardage - I had to work with what I had left. No do-overs.

Which led to side panels that are pieced in five parts each. Not period? Not hardly. I think if a 16thC seamstress had been handed a problem like that, she may well have come up with a very similar solution. The line is still correct, it actually fits, and the only visible part of the smock is the neckline anyhow, so…

The neckline is a little wider than I’d like it, but perfectly workable. I can use an underpartlet if I want, or not.

So, the take-home from all this? Don’t try fitting a smock on yourself while wearing two heavy sweaters (because it is 33F and bucketing rain outside and not exactly warm inside). You will end up with an armscye that reaches your waist. Trust me, I know ;)

Otherwise, I finally got caught up on sleep to the point where I had lots of REM sleep and crazy dreams, and I was basically about as content as I've ever been. At one point I didn't leave the house for several days simply because there was absolutely no need to. Oh, and I lost some weight, even though I had more than enough in the pantry. What's not perfect about all of that?



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