Of Hamsters, Lavender, and Immigration

I freely confess that I had not realized how much the general “What Even Is This” of the last year had affected me until I came to start actually writing this new novel. It turns out that I now have the attention span of a hamster who has slurped down three large mochaccinos. A rather stressed and easily overheated hamster, moreover, with a long to do list.

hamster looking nervous

However.

I have been trying to get into the garden lately as a way of reducing stress, and it has been teaching me some lessons. (#1: There are Always More Weeds.)

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What I Did On My Non-Holiday

If one were to judge from social media and memes alone, there are only two experiences of lockdown: Exhausted Parenthood and Exorbitant Boredom. (Clearly, this overlooks other experiences such as Having to Work Despite Feeling Unsafe, and Fearing Your Family Will Starve to a Covid-Free Death, possibly because the people having those experiences don’t have a lot of time for memeing.)

Personally, my experience of lockdown was busier and more stressed than my ordinary life, due in small part to the technolofication of all communications, and in large part to publishing a book in the middle of NZ’s Level 3. Publishing in a Time of Pandemic: not recommended.

But in amongst the stress and confusion and delays, I did manage to fit in a bit of sanity-maintaining handwork. I did a moderate amount of tatting, including a very simple lace collar, and two bookmarks.

simple tatted lace collar
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Upskilly & Stuff 7: The Measurements

Seventeen measurements, to be precise (dictated by Pattern Drafting for Dressmaking). The full panoply of which (good word, panoply) gives you enough information to create a pattern which fits you perfectly. The measurements include everything from your widest point or ‘seat’, to the distance from your neck to your waist at front and back, to the circumference of said neck at the base.

Image from page 14 of "The new dressmaker; with complete and fully illustrated instructions on every point connected with sewing, dressmaking and tailoring, from the actual stitches to the cutting, making, altering, mending, and cleaning of clothes for la

Obviously, these are very difficult measurements to take by yourself, particularly if you want any degree of accuracy (which you do). Unlike the woman in the pictures above, who has either the help of two people, or the help of one freak with two left hands, I had the help of the Caped Gooseberry (CG: where is the base of your neck? me: where those two little knobbles are).

So all I had to do was stand there and help figure out what the descriptions meant. (I think we still got at least one of them wrong.) Seems simple enough, you would think. But now for the hitch in Deborah’s character, to steal (and alter) a line from Jane Eyre.

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