Falling behind


The other day one of my acquaintances in Facebook brought this article to my attention:

To anyone who thinks they are falling behind in life

And it was a revelation. I wanted to update this blog with sewing news since the summer, but… life happened. First we lost Daisy, then Jane joined the flock. Life was busy, and I found it so hard to recover from our loss. Around summer things also changed at work. The workload had progressively decreased, so our team was absorbed by another division. Now we’re completely swamped, and some of my colleagues would like to look for another job but just can’t because they feel burned out. I had a chat with the other girl in the team and she confessed that she wants to cry sometimes. And I felt, in a way, relieved. Because I’ve been feeling exactly the same for several weeks. I’m the only one from the team in Spain, which means I can work from home most of the time. And this is the almost only thing keeping me in this job. With how tired I’ve been feeling in the last years I don’t think I could cope with going to the office, more than an hour commute, getting up at 6 or 7, and managing to cook my food for work. Because I’m still limited, and I’ve accepted that I will always be.

That I haven’t written a post about sewing during these months doesn’t mean that I haven’t sewn. My sewing has evolved, and instead of making what I’d like to wear in an imaginary lifestyle, I’m making garments that I really need. This has meant a change from wovens with crazy prints to mostly knits, and in plain colors quite often.

Another thing which has dragged me down are pictures. I used to take my DSLR and tripod at noon on Saturdays or Sundays to take pictures for the blog. But it was a hassle. The light is bad anyway now during autumn and winter.

But you know, I’ve never really stopped sharing on Instagram. I think the immediate nature of it helped me to avoid procrastinating. so  I’ll try to do the same here. I just don’t have the energy for more now. This will not be one of those beautiful blogs with sparkly photographs of somebody with a life you will envy. This will be my window to the world, and I will do with it just what I can at the moment. If it has to be crappy phone pictures, let it be.

You’ve probably noticed that my book reviews have disappeared. When I started reviewing audiobooks I envisioned it as a little part of this blog, but soon it took over and the book reviews completely swallowed the rest, so I decided to move them to my own domain. I’ve had it for ages, so I figured it was about time to put it to a good use:



It’s been a while since I wrote something here, and also the same for visiting your blogs, my dear readers. I have a good excuse, something that has prevented me from knitting or sewing, and I can say that not even a single stitch has been produced since then. On May 27th, due to a neighbor and a plumber, Gerry escaped through the bathroom window. He was inside his cage when the plumber was at home, but then I was asked to go to the neighbor upstairs to request him to flush, and then it all happened. Gerry escaped from his cage, crossed the stupid curtain that we installed in the living room and went to the bathroom looking for me. He found two strangers and left.

I was able to see him perched on the window of another neighbor, but when I tried to get there he got scared and flew away. A couple of hours later I heard him on a tree on the square in front of our place so I asked some neighbors in the building closest to the tree if I could go upstairs. I could see him there, overexcited about all the images and sounds. He screamed at me a couple of times and flew away over a high building. That was the last I saw from him.

We walked the streets with birds sound, played birds sounds on our terrace for more than a week and put papers on the street. It was kind of hard because the street cleaners remove them almost everyday, but we at least try. There were a couple of false alarms, but Gerry did not appear.

I can’t express with words how all this made me feel. It still hurts in a way I didn’t experiment for a very long time. It may sound very strong, but I felt like I was losing a child. My child. My beloved child. He was already with us when I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. I couldn’t go out a lot but I didn’t care because he was with me. I usually work from home, so we spent all day together. I spent more hours with Gerry than with my own boyfriend. He was wild in his own way, but he allowed me in his little world in a way that he didn’t allow anybody else. He was a mommy’s boy, my mommy’s boy. And now he’s lost. And time goes by, and I’m losing hope.

The first think I wanted, of course, was for him to come back. The second was losing my memory, because continuing with my life remembering all those moments together was unbearable.

There are a couple of parks in Madrid where escaped parrots live, but I can’t know if he made it there. They are about 2 km from my home. I also don’t know if somebody caught him of if he got inside an apartment through an open window (it’s very warm here). I don’t know anything, and the uncertainty is killing me.

I guess I can only expect to heal from this but for now I can’t imagine how I’m going to do it. The first week I couldn’t stop crying, and I didn’t sleep a night without waking up with a racing heart at least three or four times. I was prepared to share at least 15 years with him, but that is not happening.

My baby is gone, and I don’t know how to cope with it. Who’s going to scratch his head in the way he likes?

I can’t even bear to watch pictures of him, so I won’t share any in this post.

The house felt too empty that we decided to adopt two baby lovebirds. We need to feed them several times a day and they keep us busy (and sane, I hope), but they can’t replace my Gerry, because Gerry was my baby, my love; and we shared so many things that I couldn’t even start to write them down. Every day there was an anecdote that made the day special. We had a special connection, and now I’m lost.

So if you don’t see me commenting on your blogs, please excuse me, I am not even able to function normally, and I can’t knit or sew because I miss my sewing buddy. Even nowadays I surprise myself from time to time with some cry bursts. We installed a door where the stupid curtain used to be. But it’s too late. Too late for me, too late for him.

How to mend a broken heart?

Serging my way to neat edges

Please excuse the bad quality pictures, but my mobile camera doesn’t behave in low light conditions. Same as Gerry, just that he does it in any light conditions.

My birthday this year was nothing special, there was nothing to remember and some things to forget (like a gastroenteritis), we didn’t go out to celebrate (the only think I can do outside involving putting things in my mouth is drinking plain water) and it was Monday (who doesn’t hate Mondays?). But there was something at least that helped to bear it. This was the year that I got ill, that I broke my nose, got a vocal cord paralyzed, lost friends (a side effect of being chronically ill); but it’s also the year that I got a serger! During months and years I’ve been suffering in silence about my poor and messy edges. My sewing machine has a faux overlocker foot, and I was all the time between zigzags and faux overlocker stitches. But none of them made me 100% happy. A few times I opted for French or flat felled seams, but it was more work and in some cases the fabric and the project called for something else. I delayed the purchase first because we were living in a tiny apartment, and then because I had a lot of sudden expenses (health, new apartment, health, and health). So I always said to myself that I could live with what I had, that anyway nobody was going to see the inside of my clothes. But Koen came with this present on the day that I needed to be cheered up the most.

As this machine is something that I wished but also something that was a bit out of my reach, all related to it was a mystery and almost magical. The truth is I knew nothing else than it made neat edges. Period. I didn’t know how you get those results. It was like the principles behind a car engine. No idea. Well, maybe I knew a bit more about this last topic. But Koen foresaw this and included also this wonderful book:

Yes, Gerry already chewed up the borders when I was not paying attention. It seems he’s not only interested in my pins: he’s also interested in serging my projects!

I caught here the engineer infraganti while he was trying to fix my serger tension. Thanks to him I learned to thread it from scratch, that think that should not be named.

The first day I was worried that I was going to feel overwhelmed by so many new things, techniques and concepts, but I broke the ice with my new machine but serging the edges of my last project. It took me some scraps to reach the right tension, but this looks good to me.

I’ll show you what I made in my next post. It’s something that I wanted to make for quite some time, and I’ve finally found the perfect pattern.

You will know when the time comes

The last three weeks have revolved around the schedule to give Leslie his medicines. It was really painful to see him suffering sometimes, but other times he surprised us eating, drinking and bathing. We struggled with the idea of been able to recognize when the moment to end the fight would come. On Friday I called a dear friend from my childhood days. She’s a vet nowadays but works only with small mammals like cats, dogs and rabbits. I didn’t just want a professional advice, just a moral one. She passed exactly the same with their family dog last year and she told me what she tells her patients’ owners: You will know when the time comes.

And she was right. Last Saturday morning Leslie stopped eating. The day before he had an accident when coming out of the bathtub and his breathing was very difficult. Most of the days he had some less worse moments, but that was not happening on Saturday. And he was very pale.

I was scared that taking the decision was going to make me feel guilty and a bad person, but it was not like this; it was clear that the moment had arrived. It was extremely painful, but leaving him like he was, agonizing until the end, was even worse. We did everything we could to give him a nice life after all he suffered and after the unknown life he had. We are people, we’re not perfect and I’m sure we all make mistakes, but everything we did for him was for the best we knew and could, and at least we tried that for three months. We’ll know why this all happened next week, since we now should try to keeps the others happy and healthy.

We miss you, Leslie, with your beautiful singing. You taught me that finches can also be interesting birds with their particular personality. We loved you and did everyhing we could.

Slowly emerging from the darkness and lots of changes

I’m alive, although I don’t know if I can say the same about this blog, or other aspects of my life for that matter. My life stopped in April and I’m still trying to take the reigns of it. I still don’t have a definitive diagnostic about what’s wrong with me (I’ll know more next week) but I guess it’s a mix between a severe oral allergy syndrome and histamine intolerance. Around April my life started to be unbearable, I started my peregrination to many different doctors and all this took a heavy toll. Since these two conditions are not very well known and not very well investigated, I started to read, study and soak any related information, which consumed all my energies. All my efforts were focused on knowing what is wrong with me, how to improve it, talking to people with similar issues, visiting doctors, working on my diet. Being ill is a full time job, leaving no energies or time for anything else. I kept doing my job thanks to being extremely lucky and being able to work from home. Otherwise I don’t know how I would have been able to manage. I can’t eat outside. I need to prepare all my meals from scratch, avoiding what is normal and healthy for most people, even spices. I need to know and control all the ingredients in everything I eat to avoid allergic reactions and feeling miserable the day after. And I need very fresh food. I have to avoid all fruits and most vegetables due to my oral allergy syndrome, cereals and potatoes are also out for the same reason, gluten makes me extremely tired and dairy gives me a horrible congestion the same day and even more the day after. And then the eggs. Eating eggs gives me a horrible migraine the day after. Sometimes I don’t get the migraine, but I feel like I have the worst hangover ever, not being able to think or drag my miserable body around our apartment. At least I’m starting to know my triggers and I have to say that my oral allergy has improved a little bit, meaning that my lips and throat are not swelling with every meal I have. Now it’s usually just my lips once or twice a day. That is helping with avoiding losing more weight. Two weeks ago I went to a Mastocytosis research center and my weight was 44.9 Kg. Today it’s almost 46 and I’m not feeling like I’m going to faint if I need to walk somewhere.

Unlike it’s mentioned in “the Fault in our Stars” (read the book, didn’t watch the movie), Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is true, at least for me. I was (am) so busy reading about these diseases that I abandoned all the rest. I stopped knitting in part because of the horrible eczema I have between my fingers (partly due to my allergies, partly due to the medication), then I stopped sewing too. The last makes were a Lady Skater dress, a pair of Prefontaine shorts and a Soma bikini.

I have cut another Lady Skater that I didn’t bring myself to sew. My body has changed a lot since all this started. I think I’ve lost like almost 10 Kg and I don’t know how it will be in the next future. Part of my weight was due to the muscle I got practicing capoeira and I know that I will probably never be able to practice again, at least with the same intensity. In hinder sight, probably the intensity of it has worsened my histamine intolerance. Anyway, I just don’t know where I’m headed. I had a plan of making a pair of shorts for Koen using the Jedediah pants pattern I used last year, but then other things got in the way.


When all this started, when I still had the hope that I was going to get over it quite fast, we decided that this summer we deserved a treat. We wanted to travel again, not very far, not very costly, but just spending some days somewhere else. We rented an apartment for 6 days in August  in Lanzarote and hoped for the best. Koen has been complaining a bit for a while about our apartment, just because it’s too small and how wonderful it would be to have an apartment with a terrace and a guest room. And after checking online for some weeks we finally found a lovely place. But it was at the wrong time. Just before Koen had to spend a week in Denver to attend a congress and a week after we had our vacation in Lanzarote. And as I’ve said before, being ill is a full-time job and a vacation in thiese conditions is not a vacation. That week I lost more than one kilo and I spent quite some time reading and starving.

And Koen was offered a new contract and I had also mine renewed. And if we wanted the apartment, we had to take it at that precise moment, with no time to think carefully because we were in a waiting list and more people were behind us. We moved in one month ago, but with all this, there’s still a lot of work to do here. It’s in a very old building but the apartment has been renovated and it has a wonderful terrace. When we first arrived it was a bit frustrating, since half of the plants were dead and we discovered several surprises, like a problem with the washing machine pipe, the oven door, or the upstairs neighbor being too friendly with pigeons, and the consequent “presents” we get each morning from them. The word to describe the state we found the terrace is decadent. Dead plants, pigeon drops, a broken hose. But the place has quite some charm and it has lots of possibilities. It also means that  there’s a lot of work to be done and while it helps me to feel motivated, sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming.

Anyhow, we have a lot more place than before, so I hope I can start sewing again soon. Other good thing of it is that we can invite friends home and that will help me to get part of my social life back. Our previous apartment was very small and we haven’t gone out for several months. No dinners or drinks outside.

I haven’t even read sewing or knitting blogs during these past months, I even abandoned instagram most of the time, but yesterday evening I found myself checking a couple of blogs again. I think the worst is over and I will have my life back soon.

There have been also some changes in the feathery department. Gerry was a bit stressed the first days after the move but he’s enjoying now the fact that he has a lot more space, and one of the windows in the living room has become his favorite spot from where he has a nice view of the square in front of our building.

And do you remember Leslie? The Gouldian finch I found on the street almost two months ago?

He came in a pretty bad state, very hungry and distressed. His health improved but still his behavior was not the one of a happy bird. After a month of trying to find his previous owners with no luck, we decided to give him a girlfriend, and two weeks later Sally came home. You can see that both look very healthy and active, they eat very well, Leslie sings and they seem quite happy together.

P.S.: I haven’t danced in ages. I miss it so much… I hope I can do it again soon…

Things not getting done

I’ve finished three garments lately (the forth was a fail) but it seems I can’t find the time to take pictures of them. I used to take pictures of my finished garments during my lunch hour but work is crazy lately and my lunch hour is quite shorter than it used to be. Also, I’m so tired after I finish work that I don’t spend too much time at the computer. I just sew when I have the time, and I keep working on how to improve my very limited diet.

The list of foods I can eat has been reduced considerably in the last weeks. I was tested again by one of the three alergists that are seeing me and I’m allergic to potatoes, corn, rice, wheat, and lots of vegetables (cauliflower and the family, asparagus, almost all fruits and a long etc). Due to my problems eating I’ve lost 6 kilos in the last 2 months, and not being able to eat any of the most well known sources of carbs has made things even more difficult. I’ve tried sweet potato and I also got swollen lips and throat. I could eat normal potatoes until one month ago, when I dreamed of gaining weight by eating fries, but soon that became impossible. After trial and error, some money and lots of time, I have found that I can eat yuca (tapioca). The problem is that due to other issues, I can’t make the typical recipes everybody makes. I can’t neither use milk, rice milk, almond milk nor egg. I’ve learned to make some variant of a Brazilian recipe of yuca bread, but without all the regular ingredients, the final product is a bit, how to say, different. I’m still tweaking the recipe, and even the result is not wonderful, it’s quite ok, and honestly, I just want to be able to take a normal quantity of vegetables, carbs and proteins. Since broccoli started to give me symptoms too I started to freeze it and overcook it, so I guess I’m killing all the vitamins and good things in it. When I started the elimination diet, I used to eat plain (and boring) broccoli. I add now a bit of lemon and to hell with it. I haven’t noticed  that the allergy has become worse because of it. I’m still eating a bit of brown rice in the evenings. I can’t tolerate the regular one or my loved basmati but the brown one still works with corn from a can. I can’t eat corn in any other form (fresh, flour, pasta) but the one from the can is fine so I keep eating it.

About proteins, pork meat is fine. Not ham in any shape. Cured ham gives me nausea, and the sweet ham that you find in the shop has either potato starch, corn dextrose, or soy. I ended up in the ER after two slices almost two months ago. No ham for me. With chicken things go not so well. I’ve been eating it from time to time in small amounts because I react a bit to it. Pork fills me more, and I can eat also more quantities. I am not sure why. I’ve read that soy fed chickens can be allergenic to soy allergic people. I don’t know if this is the reason behind, but I don’t really have access to organic meat so I guess I won’t eat it again. Yesterday I ate it again and apart from swollen lips I felt a bit of nausea. Those are typical symptoms of chicken allergy. It’s not a very common allergy and the first tests came negative about that one. It’s also true that the first tests to wheat or corn were also negative. We’ll have to see.

My allergist from the Public Health System has abandoned me. They don’t know about OAS (Oral Allergy Syndrome) here in Spain and he refused to keep seeing me. I guess my case is a difficult one and he doesn’t want to have too much work. He told me I should receive a complete report from him and look for another doctor. This has been 18 days ago. No sign of a letter yet.

Just the weekend after that I woke up on a Saturday almost without voice. I blamed my allergies and let it pass. Some days ago I went to see my GP and he guessed it was just a cold. The week after I went to see a otolaryngologist with my private insurance, and after an examination she informed me that my right vocal cord was paralyzed. This Thursday I’m getting a CT scan for this and then I have to see her again. This has gotten me a bit worried lately, since there could be many causes for a paralyzed vocal cord. Mostly this happens to the left one, since the nerve is much longer that the right one and there are more chances or a problem. The CT scan worries me because they will probably use contrast (and I’m afraid of an allergic reaction) and the results also worry me. I’m trying not to think too much about it, but sometimes it’s quite difficult. Especially when I go to the shop and people don’t hear me when I ask for bread, broccoli or whatever it is I’m buying. And I’m also a bit tired of excusing myself because of being hoarse.


The inactivity you see here is because I’m a bit overwhelmed lately. Two projects that took forever are done but now I just don’t feel like doing a lot. The last one was the Ziggi jacket, of which I’m very proud. I just need to take pictures and blog it. And I need to sew my Cambie dress muslin, but I don’t feel like doing anything. I’ve been having increasing health issues for almost three weeks that are keeping me in a constant anguish. I’ve had allergic reactions to meat, cheese, ham, mayonnaise, coca-cola, nutmeg, soya and almost anything included in my meals (except the breakfast, thank god). The problem is that there are a lot of things that I couldn’t eat from the start due to my allergy to the birch I developed 4 years ago, so the list gets even smaller. And each day is worse than the previous one, so I’m not sure where this is is going.

The symptoms are generally swelling lips and sometimes also throat. I ended up in the ER on Sunday evening after eating 2 slices of ham. I’m desperate and hungry. I need to eat but I don’t know what I’m allowed. After doing some research on internet it seems I could have histamine intolerance, since I’ve had reactions to very different kinds of food and the link among them is the high histamine they contain. I’m going today to my doctor to request an appointment with my allergist but unfortunately this condition is rare and not very well known. There is just a handful of doctors in Spain specialized in this and I’ve already made an appointment with one of these doctors at the end of the month. I’ll have to stop taking antihistamines one week in advance, I wonder how I will survive.

And in two days we are leaving for Barcelona to attend a swing festival. We’ll be staying in a hotel and eating in restaurants. I’m also ultra worried about that.

And that’s the last news. There’s still a lot of sewing here and loads of knitting (I find working with my hands relaxing) but I just need some more time to find the right state of mind to put everything in words.


Those of you who follow me on Instagram already know that I broke my nose last week during Capoeira class. What you don’t know is that it’s been on my nerves since then. It’s like that queasy feeling you have when you suffer PMS, which causes everything to be wrong but you can’t put your finger in. As a broken nose takes one month to heal I cannot practice capoeira or dance until then, and as I haven’t done any of those things during Christmas, I think I’m accumulating some stress that had those escape valves before (yes, I got my nose broken during the first class after Christmas). You would think that I have more time to sew or do other things I like, but it’s not working. I have more time but very few times I can get hold of myself and really do it.

We are going to redecorate the living room in the coming weeks. I just hope that that gives me the energy that I’ve been lacking these days.


Also, as I work from home, I don’t have a lot of human contact during the day, and missing those two activities reduces the possibilities of seeing other human beings.

I miss capoeira, exercise and in a nutshell, my normal life.

I’m not a Fall girl

This Fall is being harder on me than I expected. Last Winter lasted terribly long, almost until the end of what should have been Spring. We almost believed Summer was not going to come, but it did, and it was very dry and hot as it’s always here. And suddenly we are in Fall. Last year the beginning of Fall was still quite warm and sunny; well when is Madrid not sunny? These last days apparently. Today we’ve been conceded a truce, but last weekend it rained cats and dogs and I think the rest of the week is going to be the same. I’ve just washed some clothes because I love to let them dry out on the sun and from tomorrow onwards it’s not going to be possible. Strange weather for this time of the year in generally dry and sunny  Madrid.

I used to feel this tired when I was living Belgium. Winters were long and dark there, so I guess this apathy is just due to this sudden bad weather.

I see everybody excited about sewing for Fall and Winter knitting, but I feel an uncanny aversion to Fall and Winter colors and clothes. I hate greys and browns after wearing some vivid colors in Summer, heavy clothes compared to light ones. Why is it so difficult to find Fall and Winter clothes in happy colors? Even when making my own garments I’m also a bit tied to colors, since Winter fabrics tend to show more those dark and sad greys and browns.

I had the plan of knitting Hetty this month and I was looking for a happy teal color. That Berroco Blackstone Tweed is impossible to find in Spain and they don’t sell it at Laine et Tricot (France), where I normally buy. I finally saw it at Loop Knitting (UK), but many of the colors were either sold out or there were like two or three skeins left. I finally bought some maroon skeins (Cranberry Bog) that looked more or less nice, but now that I’m knitting with them I find them depressing. It’s a really Wintery color, don’t you think?

Fall is already here and I can only think about making Hawaiian tops or Tiki dresses like the last one Amanda made. I guess this is what happens when you know bloggers from the South Hemisphere. You become green with envy.

Bunking off

Yes, I’ve done it. I had sewing class today and I decided that I was not going. My to do list this week is rather large. I thought that since I was home alone I could entertain myself by doing all those things, but it seems not working. I’ve postponed the drafting pf a pattern for three days, I skipped sewing class, I didn’t finish tiding up the living room, clean the bathroom, create a Ravelry group nor take pictures for the test knitting I finished on Saturday. What a disaster. I guess the PMS and the tons of work I had lately are not helping. Today I spent half an hour with my boss on the phone, four hours with some German customers and the rest of the time with a load of work. Yesterday I had problems to sleep after watching three episodes of Doctor Who in a row (no wonder I had strange dreams about people who were not who they were supposed to be – oh, yes, the Master! – ). I work from home most of the time, so it means that I spend many hours at home. And if I had a hard day at work I just want to get out, so no Raverly groups nor pattern tracing nor cleaning anything (except for the kitchen, ha!). I needed to get out and I needed to move. A. LOT. Get tired, sweat, suffer. So I went to Capoeira class instead. It cured my headache, my PMS and I think tomorrow I’ll be able to fold the clothes that are on the sofa right now and start tracing the pattern that will become my project for the Fall for Cotton. Exercise can be like a drug.

The picture below was taken one year ago. Who could have thought that I was going to get addicted to this?


I’ll be back in good shape soon and will write creative posts again. Just allow me some time to put my body, mind and apartment in good order.