Today Happened

I was up with the dark this morning, and our yowling cat who is, for about the seventh time this year (and we’re only in fucking January) in heat, and made it to my SFI class ON TIME without being knocked off my bike and dying on the way.

Last night I was in an uber panic because Friday is test day at SFI and I didn’t know all of my klassrumsord. But min älskling helped out massively by testing the shit out of me. I was left feeling somewhat confident that it would go sort of alright. Except for with the word väska, which, for some inexplicable reason, will not stick in my head. (By the way, it translates to bag.) Whoever said Swedish was like English needs a kick up the arse.

ANYWAY. I did real good on my test despite my anxiety. My score was 12.5 out of 13. I got half a point on that bastard word väska

In my break at SFI I indulged in some light reading from my Writers Forum magazine which I bought in England back in November, and am only just getting around to reading now. Yes, life has been that busy. And I found myself burning with inspiration to re-launch my blog baby Wyrd Words & Effigies with a new look and new features. I was supposed to brainstorm the re-launch this evening, but got lost writing some poetry instead because my soul needed it very bloody much. Tomorrow will have to do.

I’ve got into the habit of doing some lunchtime stitchery while I have my open faced cottage cheese sandwich. (A nightmare to eat, but it seems normal behaviour now after almost a year in Sweden.)

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This afternoon was all about doing my work for BabyGaga which I’m absolutely loving. Then I conjured up this from a photo I took while out in the forest yesterday…

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And found some time to edit a few more photos from a shoot a few weeks ago with @erzabethbathory

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For the past day and a half I’ve had the line For The Women Who Lived Then Died Then Lived Again in my head…so tonight, as my last creative act for the day, I opened up my soul and wrote a poem for it.

To all the women who have lived
and died and lived again

Take yourself into the forest,
alone.

Walk until the sounds of the town
are no more. Walk until all you can smell
is sap from the trees felled in winter storms,
and the last of the snow.

When your thighs are dull with aching,
when sweat has pooled into all of your crevices,
when your mouth is as dry as the inside
of a bears den, then rest.

Drop to your knees.

Place your dirty hands on your bare chest,
feel it, your wild heartbeat. How it pounds so forcefully.

It wants this existence.
It is still so strong. It still has so much to give.

Trace the scenic route of your veins
as they run rivers up your arms.
Kiss those blue rivers for as long as they run
you are here and everything is possible.

Those Brísingamen eyes, they will flicker again,
oh she wolf, they will shine!

They may be dampened, they may be put out
like a flame extinguished by falling snow
but you will blink them bright again.

And the past, you will kick it down.
It cannot punish you anymore,
or damage the beautiful imprint
you will leave.

You are brave.

Put on your horns.
Sing to the moon and dance
yourself to joy in her light.

Fill yourself with all the scat you find,
take the forest into yourself
until your belly is warm.

Now, walk boldly home,
woman who has lived and died
and who lives again.

Another photo from the shoot with @erzabethbathory. I thought it was the perfect accompaniment to this new poem…

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Stitching In The Dark : A Week Of Swedish Words

Oh my goodness if feels so good to sit down and write. I’ve been aching to blog for days now, and have felt so fucking forlorn when I’ve needed to go to bed without sharing. But I’m here now and can breathe a little bit easier.

This little project of mine went much better than I’d expected. I managed 6 out of 7 days and for that, I’m uber proud. I’ve been having some trouble with my concentration again, my sleep has been disturbed and my thoughts haven’t been so helpful, so I see my 6 days of Swedish words as a great success.

It’s reminded me that no matter how difficult my life becomes, I’m capable of clinging on, pulling myself back to safety and moving forward. I’m capable of saving myself over and over again by fully embracing my creativity.

My next project is something inspired by  this tablecloth sewing project by the ever inspirational  Thistlemilk. But I’ll talk more about in my next post…

Having a little project to complete every day is where its at for me. It provides the focus I need, and gives me something to look forward to…and believe me when I say I really  do look forward to sitting down with my needle and thread. It’s also, I quickly discovered, one of the best ways for me to fully relax  and leave my worries elsewhere.

The Swedish words that I’ve stitched this past week will be forever embedded in the soft mass of my brain. You develop a whole new appreciation for language when you dedicate precious time to really getting to know a new word.

I have pages of pages Swedish words  and phrases (nearly all of them written down during my breaks at SFI) that I still want to immortalize in my own little way, words such as Vild – Wild, Trolldom – Witchcraft and Kasta Åt Vargarna – Throw Me To The Wolves.

Pest – Plague

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Trolsk – Bewitching

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Natt – Night

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Månbelyst – Moonlit

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Nord – North

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Va Fan – Fucks Sake

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The Good From 2016

2016 was a turbulent year to say the least, but a lot of beautiful, good things came from it and today I want to share some of my creative highlights.

Launching My Blog The Girl With Cold Hands

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Having New Logos Created By Níðhöggr Studio

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Collaborating With Photographer Daria Endresen

Collaborating With Rimfrost & Their Documentary : Beyond A Frozen World Unknown

Publishing My 6th Poetry Collection ‘In The Hours Of Darkness’

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Having My Poetry Collection ‘Dying Is Forbidden In Longyearbyen’ Make It Into The Norwegian National Library

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Photographing Rimfrost Several Times, Including Their Gig In Trollhättan

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Being interviewed By One Of My Favourite Blogs – These Unquiet Things

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Being Interviewed By Vargamor A Blog I Co-Founded In 2015

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Photographing Swedish Black Metal Band Trident

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Getting Back Into Reviewing After A Long Break

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Improving My Photography  & Establishing A Photography Website

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Co-Establishing The Divine Weirdos – An Art Collective Based In Sweden

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Establishing A New Writing Website 

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Writing For CVLT Nation, Dirge Magazine and  Routes North Among Others…

Considering that my health fucked up a considerable amount of months I’m content with what I achieved. (Maybe if I say it enough times, I’ll really believe it…)

I’ve already grabbed these first few days of 2017 and have given them everything I’ve got. I feel alive and re-born creatively.

There were moments in 2016 when I thought I’d lost myself forever. I thought the words would never come back, I thought I would never again feel joy doing the things I love most.

But I retaliated against my mental health and  made a promise to myself that I will continue, always, to give everything I have to my days. I hope your 2017 is everything you hope for…and then some.

 

 

 

 

Stitching In The Dark : The Beginning

Some of my earliest memories are of sitting in my Nanna’s living room during dark winter nights. It was always warm, with thick curtains keeping the cold at bay, and a gas fire quietly breathing out hot air. I don’t remember it ever being cold during winter.

I can remember  watching National Geographic documentaries about wolves in Yellowstone Park, and my Nanna sitting in a big armchair with one of those lighted magnifying glasses, and a cross stitch resting on a special embroidery table. I always found the light radiating from the magnifying glass oddly comforting, and admired my Nanna’s tidy working method and her obsession with organizing her materials.

My Nanna would work away at these colossal pieces, and they would always came out as visions of perfection. When one was completed, she’d immediately start another. Once a month my Nanna would have ‘her ladies’ come round, and this cross stitch coven would show off the work they’d been doing and exchange ideas over tea and biscuits.

I enjoyed watching my Nanna cross stitch, but it wasn’t something that I thought I should take up. My head was always too busy being stuck in the pages of a book. One of the last things I remember my Nanna making was an embroidery of two grey wolves. I had it with me when I was in hospital suffering with anorexia nervosa.

I cross stitched a little when I was 15. I was on bedrest in hospital and made book marks with GOTH written in tiny black stitches on blood red backgrounds. When I left hospital, and abandoned cross stitch and for years I didn’t touch a need and thread, apart from when it came to sewing black metal patches onto my battle jacket.

But something stirred in me during the months of 2016. I found myself encountering one dark embroidery after another, and I quickly became besotted with the idea of creating pieces myself. Memorial Stitches and Fever Nest have provided much of the inspiration I’ve needed to be able to move forward and pick up a needle and thread again.

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I’m not very good at doing stuff ‘just for me.’ I’ve had great trouble with relaxing during the past twenty odd years of my life, and I finally came to the point where I thought to myself, ‘Katie, you’re going to have to give yourself some time every day just for you, just to do something you really, really want to do.’ After months of agonizing mental hardship, I decided to listen to myself. I decided to go to the thrift store and stock up on materials and I can tell you now, I smiled all the way there imagining what treasures I’d uncover.

It was at Erikshjälpen in Borås where I found the things I needed. I spent a happy hour going through all their thread and odds and ends of fabrics. As a long-term thrifter, I was overcome. It was an entirely new adventure in a store that I’d been in dozens of times before. I didn’t limit myself to just black thread though. At 10 krona  a spool, I picked up silvers and pale blues too. I felt re-born creatively.

I knew what I wanted to do for my first piece of embroidery…a goat’s head. After browsing Google Images for a few moments, an ideal pattern appeared. A thrill ran up my spine. I felt prepared and capable and not afraid. A few moments later, I was ready to stitch.

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A beautiful feeling of calm washed over me as I stitched. My thoughts, which are usually so hard to tame, became quiet. The more I stitched, the better I felt. When I Skyped with my parents, I was still going.

I finished my first little piece on the first night that I’d started it, and the feeling was one of enormous satisfaction. Despite the fact my two goat heads look very much like a uterus, I’m proud of my work. I’m proud that I took the step to take my creativity in another direction and I’m proud that I was itching to do another as soon as I’d crossed the last stitch.

Many of the embroideries that have inspired me have been influenced by witchcraft and its association with Lucifer, so I took to Pinterest to find my next prompt. I found a pattern with as perfect a text as I could hope to find – an adaptation of a Black Sabbath lyric which read…’Oh Lucifer, Please Take My Hand.

I’m stitching smaller for this piece, and it’s taking longer than I envisaged, but I’m savouring every single moment. I’ve noticed that even when I get a stitch wrong and need to do it again, my mood remains tranquil.

My Nanna and I have been estranged for a few years now, for reasons which aren’t entirely clear to me and the rest of my family, but I still think of her cross stitching all those years ago, and I hope that she would be happy if she knew I was stitching again.

When Your Boyfriend Gets It Right

I am all about winter. I am all about north. I am all about obscurity.

So, when I unwrapped the Jul gift from my boyfriend, I thought to myself, ‘he gets me.’

The Moomins played a pivotal role in my growing up, and helped in forming what has become an unbreakable bond with the Nordic lands.

The scene on the mug – which I’m using right now for my tea – is from Tove Jansson’s story Moominland Midwinter where Moomin wakes up early from his hibernation and goes outside to find that someone has taken away the sun, and the world as he knew it is no longer there…

Get your own Special Edition Moomin Winter mug by Arabia.

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What I’m Currently Reading : The Arctic An Anthology edited by Elizabeth Kolbert.

What I’m Currently Listening To : 40 Watt Sun’s new album Wider Than The Sky.

 

 

New Poem : The Shortest Day

The Shortest Day

I move into the fog most quietly,

damp breeds under my skin,

but I ask the sun to stay

beyond the clouds

 

because as it is now,

anything could happen.

 

I want to bottle this atmosphere,

drink it down when my life lacks magic.

 

I know of frost

but haven’t seen it in days.

Where is the snow, mother north?

Where is the true cold?

 

The animals talk on this day.

I hear hares whispering from the ferns

about winter and its silence,

and if it will ever come.

 

Very soon there’s no evidence

light was here at all.

 

Home and a rough blush of colour

creeps back into my skin.

 

I eat a sweet bun flavoured with saffron

and shaped into a reversed S.

 

Some say it’s Lucifer’s cat curled up.

 

 

 

 

Gift Guide For The Strange & Unusual

How has it been this year, the gift gathering? Are you still frantically scrolling for something that your strange and unusual loved one will want to keep forever…and then some? If you are (and if your loved one doesn’t mind that it might arrive after the day when gifts are traditionally exchanged…it’s the 24th here in Sweden) then I would like to suggest you look into these offerings for the darkly inclined.

Books

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In The Hours Of Darkness : Digital Copy

In The Hours Of Darkness is a collection of forty two poems, each of which has its own heartbeat and message to whisper. Death, magick, love and lunacy are just a few of the themes that you can expect to find carved open and carefully explored.

I’ll get started with this one, because you don’t have to wait even five minutes for it to arrive. This instant digital download of my latest poetry collection In The Hours of Darkness is now available from Etsy at a new, lower price! You can do what you wish with the PDF. Read it at your leisure on any of your devices, or print it off as many times as you like and pass it on.

In The Hours Of Darkness : Printed Copy

If you’re anything like me and you hanker after print you might want to go for the print version. Also available at a new lower price (£2.75!) you’ll also get FREE delivery if you live in UK.


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The Long Stillness : Digital Copy

A young woman pulls on her wolf skin so she can bring down an elk. The sudden collapse of a Grandfather brings an estranged family together in a small hospital room. A starving Inuit mother is forced to abandon her newborn after missing the caribou migration. Death, mental health and arctic longing are just a few of the subjects explored in this collection of poems.

My 2013 poetry collection The Long Stillness is available from Etsy for the first time as a digital download. If you’re feeling especially festive, you could download the collection then email it onto your strange and unusual loved one. It’ll make a lovely change from the usual ‘Dear Sir, I am a barrister…’ mails.

The Long Stillness : Printed Copy

Again, if you’re a print lover, you can also buy The Long Stillness as a printed book directly from me. It’s perfectly bound and contains just under sixty pages of poetry.


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Dying Is Forbidden In Longyearbyen : Printed Copy

Dying is Forbidden in Longyearbyen is a gritty collection of poems that touch on the hardships and beauty of the far North. From the ice tundras of the Arctic to the desolate island of the Svalbard archipelago, Katie Metcalfe’s poetry will transport you emotionally, physically and spiritually. Dying is Forbidden in Longyearbyen is the first of the Songs of the North Series from Nordland Publishing.


 

Photography

This year I’ve been continually challenging myself with my photography. It’s taken on a new, more valuable role in my life in 2016 and it’s rare that I’ll go a day without taking my camera out. As my skills have developed, I’ve become more confident with selling my work, and now offer hundreds of my images in the form of all sorts of products. Below are some of my favourite pieces from the works I’ve released over the past year.

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After The Cold Of The Silver Night Chiffon Top

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Winter Dark Graphic Tee

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Preparing For Flight Tote Bag