The weight we (I) carry

I’ve started therapy. Finally, some (including me) might say. It’s not that I’ve never tried it, nor that I felt I didn’t need it, more that I felt it was so hard to find someone that was also covered through our social security system. And I’ve managed well enough. As well as you do with chronic disease and fatigue, that is.

I’m generally a positive person, I don’t see a need to focus on all the crappy things in life. I only have so much energy, and I don’t want to squander it on depressing thoughts. I’ve preferred lifting myself to staring into the abbyss.

Half a year ago I started to take ReMag, a new to me kind of magnesium supplement. Promising efficacy and noticeable results. Like they all do; I don’t know how many different magnesium compounds I’ve tried over the years, without being able to notice any change. Imagine my surprise when it took just two days for the brain fog to lift, and another two weeks for a noticeable improvement in gait. My drop foot was suddenly less of a problem. Amazing. Then imagine my despair when I, a month after 10 days rehab and a personalised exercise plan, woke up with a severe drop foot and complete lack of energy. Damn it. I thought I could handle exercise with the ReMag, obviously I was wrong.

Fast forward three months and I am beginning to function again, but thoughts of my baby brother Martin, who died a mere 9 months old when I was just 21 months old myself, has started to push their way forward. I thought I had worked through all this years ago, but not so, obviously. I am wondering if this has something to do with my improved magnesium levels, since magnesium supplements can help depression, maybe this essential mineral also supports other parts of the psyche? This is just speculation on my part, but is it possible?

Anyway, I’m now two consultations into what I think might end up as a rather substantial course of treatment, and it was suggested to me that I took som time to look at the heavier side of things. The fear (Martin just disappeared, maybe I could too?), the anger, the grief. Not only linked to Martin, but to life/life with MS in general. Because there is a lot of anger there, I can feel that. I need to let it out, to not leave it festering where I’m unaware of it, producing it’s poisonous “molecules of emotion” (thank you, Candace Pert for your research into this and this brilliant term. Emotions are chemistry).

So today I got out my dear old iPad, the Paper app and my Pencil, and did my first drawing in a very long time. This is what it feels like, it’s a huge big sack filled with grief, sadness, fear and anger. Or maybe this is just one of those. It’s a burden that’s a struggle to carry, but I’ve become so used to it I didn’t notice how it was weighing me down. I’m ready to put it down and pour out its contents. I need to digest these emotions to be free.

Wish me luck.

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I can has snood-shawl-thing

So I knitted this thing. Last year. It was a long bias rectangle (reduce one at the beginning, add one at the end every other row), with a very simple pattern (knit four, then have a double loop on the fifth, repeat on odd rows. Knit four, lift off the double loop behind the knitting strand, repeat on even rows. Did that make sense?).

I thought I might have it as a long scarf with a big tassel each end, and then I thought I’d just unpick the cast on and mask the beginning and end together. Hah. It would’ve looked good, but this is a single thread lace weight yarn from Ullcentrum Öland and I never felt like doing it. It’s just too flimsy. Yesterday I decided it was time to just finish, so I knitted an extra row or two and then cast off. I used safety pins to hold the ends together, pinning through the corresponding stripes, and croched them together. Threw it in the washing machine, and today I’ve had in on constantly. I love it.

It’s brilliant, isn’t it? I love, love, love the colours. I love the lightweightness of it, and the complete lack of a loose end to drop in one’s tea or dinner. Here are a couple close-ups of it. The first shows inside and outside, how the row of those double length masks on the outside make a slight groove on the inside.

Here you can see the join from the outside. It is far from perfect, but it is good enough.

Here you can see the join on the inside.

Here you can see me wearing it tripled up (in the basement laundry room), I think this will be nice to wear in the colder months.

And finally, here’s how big it is. It doesn’t really lend itself to be worn like this, but doubled or tripled work really well. And you can see how the bias knitting means the colour changes run diagonally. It also means the whole thins is very stretchy and really comfortable to wear. I clearly need to make more. I have a more standard shawl on my needles at the moment, but the next project will be another snoody thingybob. Circular shawl. Whatever. A bit unsure what I should call this.

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Winter coat for the tall and skinny one

My son is brushing up against the 2m mark and there’s not a gram of excess fat to be found (lucky boy, give your mama some of that, eh?) and he hates roomy clothes. So, to get sleeves that are long enough, he needs such a large size that there ends up being room for two of him in the body. This fall it became clear he needed a new fall/mild winter coat. Something for the long period when he would melt in the down jacket. Several suggestions of mine were nixed. I was hoping for a quick, easy job, but he didn’t agree with my suggestions. I didn’t feel like doing a whole lot of alteration to make a pattern fit, so I bought my first lekala pattern, #6066 (there was no coat pattern at Free Sewing then, there is now and I might just have to make it as well). The boy and I had a taping session and then cut it out. I used the lining to make a test garment. Not a thin, silky lining, but a quilted, fairly thin thermo fabric (one of my original suggestions was to make a jacket of that fabric alone, with baby cord. I figured it would fit his school, but he’s most empatically not one of “those”, meaning the snobbish kids at school. He’s one of the cool music studies ones). It fit great. Well, almost, but the alteration needed was minor. This was transferred to the pattern, and then the outer fabric was cut out, a hint larger to fit over the lining – and then the problems started. It was hideous, too much room across his back and on top of the sleeves. Damn. I ended up dragging my feet, and the fact that the boy was only available when not at school and such didn’t help. It was not looking good at all. Absolutely. Not. At. All. Besides my health was not its best, and the whole project just drained me completely. Finally I bit the bullet and fitted it properly, which meant ripping seams and topstitching, even making new seams (those from the armholes to the upper hip on the back are not there in the original pattern). Worth it, as it resulted in a properly fitting coat, and a totally delighted young man (and mum). Woot! Finally – and then the two parts were joined. The result is pretty swish, if I may say so myself, the boy is delighted and loves the coat, and it was a great learning experience for me.

The topstitching is fairly decent, except around the sleeve zippers. Thankfully it’s not glaringly hideous. He, bless him, didn’t care one iota. He loves the fit, which was what was important. He can’t suddenly go ahead and gain a lot of weight, though.

The insides also look great, if I may say so myself. It seems I don’t have any photos, so that will have be the next post – he’s not home at the moment, so neither is the coat.

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Carving stamps

Several years ago, my cousin bought some rubber blocks for me at Dick Blick. One 3/4″ thick slab of Staedtler mastercarve, and two packages of Dick Blick’s own no-brand. They’ve been in hiding with my craft supplies, my lino knives all gone. This spring I bought a cheapo set of knives to see if I enjoyed carving as much as I thought I would. I did! No big surprise there. So I got some proper knives and have now worked my way through all the crumbly, coarse no-brand rubber blocks. I’m done! Woohoo. Now I just need to figure out how to split the mastercarve block, as it is massive.

I’ve been exploring different ways of making a pattern. Larger squares that are 1/4 of a pattern, like this one:

Unfortunately I was not accurate enough, so the diameter is a bit off on the outer border, but the heart and the first border is ok.

And smaller “self contained” ones, like the ones below. I ended up using the whole last sheet and then some to make 3″ squares. 

The coarseness of the rubber meant I was unable to make fine detail, but in a way that almost adds to it. And maybe it’s ok that it’s a bit coarse? I plan to use these on fabric, so maybe it works as they are? I’ll play around with it, anyway. After I’ve tidied my sewing room and finished some ufo’s that lie around.

Then I’ll carve some more…because it really is great fun.

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My experience with FMT and the Taymount Clinic

We arrived in Hitchin one Sunday afternoon, and was picked up at the train station by our lovely AirBnB host.

Monday at 2pm I had my first treatment. First day started with a colonic where not much was released, but then I had had two colonics before leaving home and I’d also taken a huge dose of OxyPowder which had resulted in two serious bowel movements that morning. Colonic irrigation done, it was time for the first implant. Having a katheter stuck up your behind, past the rectum, into the sigmoid, is a rather peculiar experience. Not painful, but not pleasant either. Let’s put it this way: It’s not something I would do for fun. After the implant is in place and the katheter is removed (which is as weird has having it placed), it’s time for a little lower belly massage, to help the bacteria move up the colon, or at least into the lower parts of the decending colon. Then the bed is tilted so that gravity helps the bacterial soup move up the decending colon as I feel like I’m lying upside down. After ten minutes I move on to my right side, so my new friends can move across the transverse colon, and finally I am sitting up, so they can descend the ascending colon. All while this is done I am visualising my body welcoming these new inhabitants, my colon opening up for them to move up and find spots to settle down.

And then, when the implant procedure is finished, it is time to get up and about – and resist those immediate urges to go to the loo. This is the only time my tendency to be constipated has been a good thing. I managed to hold it all in place until late that night.

The colonic cleansing was only the first day (naturally, one would not want to wash away those new friendlies), the implants have followed the same procedure every day.

By Wednesday my companion, E, was beginning to feel emotionally on a roller coaster. She described it as wishing to build a pillow fort and hide inside it. Wednesday night I had the most incredible fart. The gas exploded out and the stink was beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. Clearly the new bacteria were at work, because this was not a smell I’ve ever come up with before. We were quite giggly and delighted there was nobody else aroung just then.

Thursday E was still frail, needing lots of support and closeness and desperately wanting to avoid other people. Friday she felt better, but I had a dull heavy ache in my left hip when we left the clinic, and also a feeling of general pain.

Over the weekend we had a fab pub dinner with friends. Part of our meal was Yorkshire pudding, which is made with wheat flour, and I ate half of mine. And then we had dessert. With no adverse reactions. E was also pms-ing, but for the first time in ages she did not become a shrew. None of the moodiness and bitchiness she usually has. Quite amazing. 

First week passed without me feeling any major change, but I decided to test my gluten sensitivity. And it seems I passed, as I got no pain or swelling from what I ate over the weekend. Amazing! Monday we had a lazy morning, but were still out of the house before 10. Did some shopping, then had tea, and went to the clinic – where we were told we had to wait somewhere else. Our appointment wasn’t until 14, and we arrived one hour early. We figured we’d sit and knit and have the time to go to the loo before treatment, but no. We ended up at a “greasy spoon” with a mug of tea, and it was quite the experience. The place was so deep fried it felt like I was inhaling fat while breathing. Greasy spoon indeed. Treatment went well, as usual, we were both explained how to do this when we come home. E had been feeling faint, so we sat for a while before we left. Went shopping for food on our way “home” and she was so tired she looked ready to fall asleep anywhere in the supermarket. Coming back to our place around 17, she was both very tired and extremely hungry. And not cranky at all! A bit mellow, but her mood was fine. She handled being hungry in a way I can’t remember when I last experienced. Normally being this hungry and tired would have turned her into a dragon, she would be spewing fire and biting the head off of anyone who dared so much as look at her. Totally amazing. Just a week of treatment and she has changed this much. Wow.

She’s sleeping like a log, but me? Nope. I woke up 3:20, went to the loo and then lay tossing. So I decided to write a bit. Maybe I’ll be able to sleep now? We went to bed late, and four hours sleep just doesn’t cut it.

On Wednesday I had to do this myself. Eek! Fumbly, and I’m no longer as pliable as I once was, but I managed. Victory! No special reactions for any of us the last days, and on Friday we packed and got ready for the trip home. With ten doses of deep frozen implants packed in a styrofam box.

The clinic was an absolute delight. Warm and friendly staff, nice treatment rooms and great humor. Highly service minded and very helpful. Having my FMT treatment here was a great experience.

It’s now been a month since we returned, and while my stomach is not 100% yet, it is better. I have not suffered the rather mad periods of constipation I’ve become used to. Of course, I’ve also been taking some OxyPowder, but I don’t think that’s the full reason for it. Something feels different, and I am very happy about that. Now that school is back in season and I have the some hours of me to myself during the day I feel like I have more of this much coveted get-it-done-ability. I haven’t done much, because I’ve been totally worn out (just had a week in hospital with my son, he hurt his spleen in a biking accident. Thankfully only a grade 2 damage, and he’s healing well. Back at school already), so I’ve had two days of rest which has been much needed. Still managed to cook dinners and deal with both our first batch of kombucha and finding a better place for it to stand in peace while fermenting, as well as filtering the water kefir and running a ginger brew experiment (with the water kefir). I have even managed to update this blog! I had plans for doing it while undergoing treatment, but I did not have the energy to do so. But, since today is my 7 year anniversary at WP I figured it was time to get it up there. 

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Last week and then some, days 22-30 of my sketch challenge

I’m done! I did it! This pleases me no end, as this dratted MS of mine tends to both rob me of energy and brain power. Seriously, it’s frustrating how absent-minded I’ve become. I forget things at the drop of a hat. As I have with this sketch challenge. I’ve tried to have some structure (draw in the morning) but when that hasn’t happened because something, like summer hols, has changed my routines, then it’s been really easy to forget. However, I’ve managed to remember and catch up, and that is a huge victory. It may not sound like much, but it really is.

So here are my last sketches. I’m not continuing this challenge, but I have another version for next month. Posting something me-made daily. I guess I’ll stick to instagram for now, but that might change as I’m not too happy with how it works.

Day 22. Not much to say here, apart from the fact that I had to take part of my last name and play with it (Winding). Quite happy with what was made here.

Day 23, midsummer, or St.Hans eve as it’s known here. Party and bonfire!

Day 24. Another struggly day. My dear son wanted something with music, but I was completely at a loss. Brain not working at all. I just wanted to make patterns, but there would’ve been no words in that…

Day 25. Thankfully those braindead days usually don’t expand into weeks, as I had more fun and it was a bit easier than the day before. And chocolate is always good.

Day 26. Here the plant drawing came first, and I struggled like mad to come up with a name. Dastardly frustrating to not be able to come up with fitting words that could be latinized. I hope this can change, so that I get less aphasia and not even more.

Day 27 was a meh day. I quite liked the nature nurtues one, but I used more time than I have set aside for this challenge (no more than five minutes per sketch).

Day 28 I ended up doing other stuff and forgetting about my sketches. But I remembered as I sat down and waited for some people, and then I got two made. The bonus (I need four tiles for the collage) is a photo of that day’s sunset over Glomma river in Norway. It was breathtakingly beautiful. 

Day 29. So ready to be done, not feeling like doing this challenge anymore at all, but I had to finish my last two days! 

Day 30, my last hurrah in this series – and today was quite fun. I brought out the random word generator, because I couldn’t think of anything apart from cuddle. I’m rather happy with all these, but especially foam…

So there it is, that’s that, and I’m all done. Woot! I did it, I did it. I’ll continue with daily drawing, because while I’ve struggled with this task it has also been brilliant. Taking time for myself is not all that easy, but hopefully I’ll manage now? One can hope.

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Clothespin apron

So I made a comment and got a reply that made me realise not all had as brilliant a grandma as I did. She made sure everyone of her family had a clothespin apron. The one she made for mum is long gone, as is the first I made for myself. This is my third, and I have changed the design slightly.

No measures on this sketch, you just need a big enough piece to cover your front. Mine is about 50×45 cm (18″x20″). Shoulder straps long enough to cross over. A piece of fabric for the pocket that is 10 cm (4″) wider than the main piece. 

I am assuming here that any who reads this knows how to sew, so this is not very detailed. 

  • Edge the angled parts of both apron and pocket. If you choose to line the whole thing, omit this step. If you line the pocket only, edge the angled parts of the apron.
  • Make the shoulder straps and handle, attach them to the top edge, fold the top edge over to hem and edgestitch so that handle and straps point up. If lining, just attach to the edge.
  • Sew the pocket, i.e box the lower corners, and if you’re lining it sew the pocket front and lining together at the top half: angled part, across, angled part.
  • Attach pocket to front at the sides, and shoulder strap to the top of where the pocket meets the side of the apron. Fold over/hem all sides. (Or forget about finishing the edge if you, you know, line it). Attach the top of the pocket so that you allow some room. Say your pocket is 20 cm tall, then attach the top ca 15 cm up from bottom. Reinforcing the fabric here is a good idea. Either iron on or use a sturdy ribbon on the back of the apron – especially if the weave is a bit loose.
  • If you’re lining this baby, now is the time to attach the lining at all sides, leaving a gap (for instance across the top). Turn it, and edgestitch all around to finish.
  • Fill pocket with clothespins, and enjoy the ease of having the pins in a very easy to reach place.

An important thing to remember is that it should not be too long, you need to be able to reach the bottom of your pocket! An earlier version I made had button fastening of the shoulder straps, so that they could be shortened for the kids.

A note on fabric: I love natural fibers, so that’s what I use. And I love these wild patterns which I got as samples from a furnishing shop. It’s a curtain fabric actually, and while I would never have curtains like that (that’s a bit too much), I love it for details. But, this could also be made with mesh, in case you just want to leave your clothespins out by the line all the time. I have a hook on the wall, under the roof, so they’re not drenched every time it rains. 

If you make one, I’d love to see it. Would you leave a link to a photo or post in comments?

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Week three of my personal sketch challenge

Woohoo! I made ot through another week, and the week leading up to solstice at that (solstice knocks me out), so I’m rather chuffed. Posted daily at Instagram @windingsorensen. I do find it quite interesting how some days are a breeze, wheras other days are a struggle. Today I felt like giving up the whole thing – but when I finally managed to put pencil to paper it flowed easily (but you won’t see the result until next week, unless you hop over to Instagram).

So, here are days 15-21:

Not sure how obvious the f in flag(g) is here. And maybe I should’ve used two different g’s? Flag in Norwegian has a double g (as you can see).

I had fun drawing multi in multi ways, otherwise this was a meh day.

Quite happy with what I got today – especially erase. It’s rather silly, being so pleased with one’s own ideas, but I was really happy with this one.

A common theme with all three today, flirt and the colour red/rød and heart are all closely linked in my mind.

The tomato feels terribly unoriginal, like my other sketches I seriously doubt I was the first to have this idea. But I’m pleased with the cube.

Another drag-it-out-of-myself day. The can DLE was amusing though, I like puns. Coming up with something that’s a five minute sketch is surprisingly hard. Especially in a second language. And I’m actually quite fond of my pentagonagram…

Happy solstice! Thank goodness we’e now past it. Hopefully the summer grows warm and lovely from here on, because it’s rather nippy at the moment. And I found another pun.

So that was my third week, one more and a few days left. It *is* good to challenge myself, and to find that even though I really struggle at times and stare at the paper feeling totally brain dead, I do manage to get it done. And I honestly think a few of them are quite decent.


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Sketch challenge. week two

I did it! I managed another week. Never thought that would be a problem, but I’ve had some rather painful days lately. On Tuesday I didn’t even realise I had forgotten to do my sketches until late at night. But I did them, and I’m very proud of that.

Living with a chronic disease (for me that’s MS) has made me be very much in the now. So much so that I often forget things I think I should do. If I’m in pain, I’m in pain – and looking for things to distract me. I’ve not come to the place where drawing is what I use, but hopefully I’ll get there. Well, actually I hope I get to the point where I don’t need any distractions from pain at all. That would be something! 

So, then – here are my sketches from week two of this challenge. It’s a bit amusing how much these reflect where I was that day. Not all, but quite a few. And no filters – day 14 is blue because it was photographed outside in the evening, just before sunset.

Day 10, bottom right. Can you guess what it says? People seem to struggle with it.

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First week of my sketch challenge

So, I’ve now done a week of my personal June challenge – sketch each day.  The format is small, just 10×10 cm, and is done in pencil – and quick. These are five minute sketches, at most.

Day 1:


Day 3:

Day 4:

Day 5:

Day 6:

Day 7:

So far the verdict is that this is incredibly fun, and the biggest problem I have is stopping at three – and making sure I stay in the quick sketch format. Which is a bit tricky, because I don’t draw on single pages, it’s a bloc with 250 sheets. But it’s good exercise. The whole point was to pick up a pencil again, and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m also learning to say that it’s good enough. And they are, really. I’m not aiming for Munch here (though he too had a lot of quick sketches, some definitely not so good).

I’ve been playing a bit with words that are similar in Norwegian and English, and I am reacting to what goes on around me and in the world. Today has been a very wet day, for instance.

On to week two! And, if anybody wants to see the daily updates, they can be found on instagram, @windingsorensen 

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