Day 1: starry
stars within, stars without (2017) is part of my symptomatology embroidery series. This is a map of the paresthesias (tingling) in my upper body due to ME/CFS, stitched as I experienced them.
Day 2: battle
I began this anatomy embroidery, Bleeding Vessel (2022), during tests to solve menstrual symptoms. Endometrial cancer was found. The fibroids, polyp, & cyst are based on my imaging. A hysterectomy removed the cancer in a short battle.
Day 3: favourite
This symptomatology embroidery, body map (2016) is a favourite of the ME/CFS community. I spent a few months freehand stitching my various neurological symptoms as I felt them, making my invisible symptoms visible.
Day 4: cold-blooded
Insects are cold-blooded. This excerpt from my videopoem, ossa . ora (2014), features a bee. The piece is an exploration of cabinets of curiosity, a popular scientific display method in the 16th century.
I realized some syllables are missing from the video! It’s supposed to be a haiku:
cuspid-framed bee bed
a dry wind could scatter these
stinging things gone still
Day 5: strangling
This symptomatology embroidery, neuraesthenia (2017), depicts the sensation of post-exertional malaise (PEM), the hallmark symptom of ME/CFS. PEM feels like an extreme heaviness, as if the energy system of the body is being strangled.
Recently Ed Yong published an excellent piece on PEM. Please read it if you’d like to learn more about this disabling symptom.
Day 6: understory
This anatomy embroidery, she breathed (2018), explores the sensations & physiological process of breathing. Our bronchi are like the roots of trees, quietly transmuting oxygen to carbon dioxide & helping to produce blood cells.
This piece is on the cover of the anthology Sharp Notions: Essays from the Stitching Life. I also have an essay and more embroideries in the book. You can preorder it here.
Day 7: indigo
A detail of my SciArt embroidery, cell map (2019), which plays with scientific diagrams as maps of landscapes we can walk through, and labels as poetic text.
Day 9: heart
This is a still from my video poem, susurrations (2008). The piece is a love poem to my heart, created from the experience of being dangerously anaemic from a colitis flare.
Day 10: gossamer
This is a detail of my liver anatomy & symptomatology embroidery, tethered by fluid & ligaments (2023). I used silk organza for the four lobes of the liver so the biliary system could be seen inside them.
Day 11: lyrical
This anatomy embroidery, eye poem (2016), features a short circular lyrical poem that can be read starting from any word.
Day 12: overgrowth
This is a detail of my current anatomy embroidery in progress: a vagus nerve. The way it innervates the gut looks like an overgrowth of branches.
Day 13: carmine
This detail of the endometrial lining in my anatomy & symptomatology embroidery, Bleeding Vessel (2022), uses a very bright red.
Day 14: glowing
This ME/CFS symptomatology embroidery, paresthesia (tongue 2) (2018), shows the tingling in my tongue glowing against the black linen.
Day 15: bird-like
This is a selection of some of the items from the shelves in my studio—my own mini cabinet of curiosities. Such a collection is very magpie-like as I add only what catches my eye.
Day 16: ochre
A detail from my ME/CFS symptomatology embroidery, stars within, stars without (2017) stitched on ochre linen.
Day 17: abstract
This ME/CFS symptomatology embroidery, paresthesia (face) (2016), looks abstract at first glance, but is a visualization of the tingling I felt on my face at the time.
Day 18: talon
In this ME/CFS symptomatology embroidery, push, pull, & tingle (2018), the hand is curled like a talon.
Day 19: charcoal
This anatomy embroidery, woman in skull (2016), uses crosshatching that looks almost like a charcoal drawing.
Day 20: sweet
This ME/CFS symptomatology embroidery, paresthesia (tongue 1) (2016) has French knots that look like tastebuds, but actually represent the tingling I feel in my tongue.
Day 21: misty
This ME/CFS symptomatology embroidery, she was tributaries (2016), is my representation of the cognitive dysfunction called brain fog. For me, it feels more like an electrical storm than a fog.
Day 22: nocturnal
Most nocturnal creatures have very large eyes. This is a detail of my anatomy embroidery, eye poem (2016).
Day 23: adornment
My SciArt has crept into my visible mending hobby. I stitched a simple heart embroidery on this patch to cover a hole in this cardigan sleeve.
Day 24: metallic
I used metallic-coated glass beads for the fibroids & blood clots on my symptomatology anatomy embroidery, Bleeding Vessel (2022).
Day 25: alchemical
Alchemy was still practised in the 16th century when cabinets of curiosity became popular. Here’s an excerpt from my videopoem, ossa.ora (2015), full of curious objects, especially teeth, with hip joint as a crucible.
Day 26: threads
This ME/CFS symptomatology embroidery, paresthesia (foot) (2016) is heavy with threads, representing the extreme tingling I had in my feet at the time.
Day 27: amethyst
This anatomy embroidery, nave of vibration (2017) is an inner ear stitched on purple cloth. The inner ear also contains crystals called otoliths.
Day 28: monumental
This SciArt embroidery, cell map (2020), takes a diagram of a cell and imagines it as a monumental landscape.
Day 29: tale
My anatomy and symptomatology embroidery, tethered by fluid & ligaments (2023), tells the tale of my ongoing liver & biliary issues.
Day 30: rebirth
This SciArt embroidery, mitosis sampler (2016), shows cell division, a type of rebirth. I’m currently in the process of turning this piece into an embroidery pattern.