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Category: Fiber Arts

It’s a Blog Post! Woo!

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve done a regular blog post here, but given what’s going on in the world right now, it’s been hard to update things. I suppose I’ve gotten to the point in quarantine where I’m accepting it until there’s some sort of treatment or vaccine. With cases on the rise again here in Switzerland, and people being careless about masking and social distancing, I am not going out any time soon unless I absolutely have to!

But even with all of the world’s mess, I seem to have found my writing mojo in the last month or so, and that has been really awesome. I suppose that if I can’t travel places, I can go places in my head, right?

Unity is coming along, and I have about two thirds written. This last part has been harder, as there’s more political intrigue, and I’ve had to do a little more research and a little more planning and thinking about how the plot will play out.

I’ve finally released The Four Keys to ebook, and I’m stoked that it’s finally out! It’s available through Amazon. (Although, if you don’t do Kindle, let me know, and I’ll sort you out.) The Wife did amazing cover art for the book, and eventually, we’ll be publishing an illustrated paper version with more of The Wife’s art in it! (That won’t be out for a while since the art will take a bit of time to do.)

I also put up a new Star Trek FanFic on AO3 called The Vulcan Harp. We’ve been watching Star Trek in chronological order with the German language audio (how else would a geek practice listening in German?), and I’ve been really amazed to see just how well the Discovery writers dug into canon. If you also want to watch it in chronological order, here’s a good list on how. It’s amazing how much more depth you get with Spock particularly, and the universe in general, when you watch it this way.

So, naturally, I wrote FanFic, as a geeky writer would, right? Keep an eye out for more FanFic, since I find doing FanFic breaks me out of writing slumps. 🙂

I am also doing NaNoWriMo this year, and hopefully that push will help me finish Unity! If you’re also doing NaNo, feel free to friend me on the NaNo site!

Stay safe everyone, and wear your masks. And if you’re in the US, please please vote on November 3!

Released

The Four Keys – Download from Amazon. US LinkGerman Link
The Vulcan HarpRead on AO3

In Progress

Unity – Military/hard sci-fi/spy novel set in a future where humans have colonized several other planets. One of the main characters is a Religious Program Specialist and Senior Communications officer who has PTSD and works with the station’s Chaplain to figure out why the colonization survey they’re supporting isn’t going according to plan, and realizing that who’s behind it is more dangerous than just a failed colony.
Word count as of today: still 108,232 (not including the chapter I’m currently working on.)

Fiber Arts

Started a project on my inkle loom with one of my handspun bamboo yarns that I spun from fiber from The Fiber Lady. The colorway is called Chocolate Cherries, and it’s a mix of purple, pink, and a chocolate brown. This came about because I managed to get inserts for my Apple Watch so that I can use Nato bands for instead of the regular watch bands. And I was like, hey! I could weave my own! So I am!

I’m still working on an altar rug for our large altar, but that’s been a bit on hold for now. I’m also going to go back to spinning soon, especially since I just received some beautiful fiber from Mosshollow Hill in CA!

Fountain Pens

My newest fountain pens have been a TWSBI Classic Fountain Pen in Burgundy, and a Sailor LeCoule in Rose Quartz. You really can’t go wrong with Japanese pens. They just work. (Not that I don’t like my European pens, but still…)

Cooking

I’ve been starting to make all the winter foods now. Made my first beer beef stew of the season about a week ago, and it was awesome. The other thing is that I’ve discovered mashed cauliflower, and OMG! Here we’re thinking we can’t have any potato recipes ever again, and along comes mashed cauliflower (and romanesco, that fractal one). I made a shepherd’s pie with mashed romanesco the other night, and it was glorious!

I’ve also been LOVING my new 8L Instant Pot Duo Crisp and Air Fryer (#notsponsored). Holy crap, I love this thing! Who knew that chicken nuggets and fish sticks can be crispy? Or that you can cook a roast in the air fryer and not make your kitchen into a sauna? And, seriously, air fried brussel sprouts, man! Super yummy! This Instant Pot also does sous vide, so it’s been nice being able to make sous vide stuff again (mmmmm….sous vide steaks!). 20/10 would recommend!

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Back to the Schilthorn

February has been a busy month, but it’s been a good one for the most part. The recent highlight was that the Wife and I took a much needed trip back to Mürren. It’s definitely one of our favorite places to go. So peaceful and incredibly beautiful! I took some pictures (which I haven’t processed at the time of this blog post, of course), but mostly I just enjoyed the beauty and the peace. We did do the James Bond Brunch again, because, well, why not? Sarah took a great picture of me taking pictures at the Birg station.

Gina taking pics at Schilthorn
picture by Sarah Thompson

The Schilthorn is quite something in the winter, and it was really crowded with skiers! I was rather impressed that there were so many people going right up to the top to ski down it! There were even little kids (some in the 4 or 5 year old range) and older folks (some looking in their 90s!) skiing from the top! My cousin let me know that Schilthorn, and pretty much all of the Alps, are kind of bucket list places for skiers. Skiing isn’t my thing, but holy moly, that was impressive!

(Nerdy side note: Do you like my Aunt Hildy hat? The Wife and I decided we’re the Aunties in “The Thrilling Adventures of Sabrina.” I am totally Hildy.)

The other big news is that our business is now legally formalized in Switzerland! We’re now working on getting the bank sorted, and other particulars. It’s been interesting to find that all those years working in biotech, particularly small biotech companies, is coming in really handy!

Novel writing has been slow since I got back from Flordia between jetlag, business, and other stuff. It’ll come back, I know, and my mom gave me some really good plot bunnies to chase after.

Writing:

  • Unity: This is a military/hard sci-fi/spy novel set in a future where humans have colonized several other planets. One of the main characters is a Religious Program Specialist and Senior Communications officer who has PTSD and works with the station’s Chaplain to figure out why the colonization survey they’re supporting isn’t going according to plan, and realizing that who’s behind it is more dangerous than just a failed colony.
    • Word count as of today: still 101,765 (not including the chapter I’m currently working on.)
  • The Four Keys: A spiritual prose journey to the underworld and back.
    • Needs final edit pass and cover for e-book version.
    • Graphic novel version on hold for the time being.
  • The Little Tarot E-book: This is a book started for my tarot class here in Zurich
    • Still in draft. Need to finish Major Arcana and more spreads.
  • Poetry For Lent
    • New devotional project starting on Ash Wednesday.

Travel:

  • Belgium: Short weekend road trip for business. Probably in the next 2-4 weeks.
  • 10th Anniversary Getaway: Most likely to Mürren around May 1.
  • Crazy Trip to the Northern Most Point in Europe: Summer 2020?
  • Rome/Vatican: TBD (Maybe Fall/Winter 2020?)

Fiber Arts:

Not made much headway with any fiber stuff at the moment. Still working on the cotton. Will probably take my loom off it’s stand and bring it into the living room so I can weave while watching TV. I really should get the current weaving project done.

Photography:

Need to process pics from Florida and Schilthorn. Am planning to take my camera to Belgium when I go. New country! woot!

Fountain Pens:

Ok, I have to say it: I think Noodler’s pens and ink are crap. The pens are cheap construction for the price. Basically, I inked them up and they barely worked again. The Wife didn’t like them either. The ink was even worse. Feathered on just about any paper we used, even paper that we’ve used with other fountain pens and inks with no problems whatsoever. On top of all that we learned that the owner is one of those Libertarians and a big Trump supporter. Never buying from them again! Needless to say, we’ve since tossed both pens and inks.

Swimming:

Yes, I am back swimming again. Zürich is quite awesome for swimming, actually, and right now I’m going to one of the city run indoor pools. 50 meters of lap swimming awesomeness! The Apple watch workout app works pretty well, and it has both pool swim and open water swim functionality. Rather nice! Swim.com’s app wasn’t all that great, but it just filched the data from the Apple app, so I went back to the Apple one. My last swim I did was 600 meters, which is pretty darn good since I haven’t done much swimming in about 2 years. The Wife pointed out that I’m much more fit from all the walking I’ve done, and she makes a good point.

One thing I have learned is that my sinusitis is annoying enough, that it’s making breathing for Freestyle difficult. The last swim I did, though, I breathed through my mouth instead of my nose, and it felt better. I think I’m going to use a nose clip during my next swim and see how it goes.

In May (until middle of September), I’ll be able to use the outdoor pool near our house. It’s literally about 2 blocks from our front door. That, too, is also a 50 meter lap pool, along with some general swimming areas, a kiddie water playground, and, of all things, a water slide!! I love this city. Seriously!

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New Art Stuff!

The new camera!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have a new camera. It’s a Fuji X-A3, and I love it! I have 12, 28, and 50 mm lenses for it. While I really liked The Wife’s Nikon Df, this camera is about half the size (and weight) of the Df, and I think it works pretty similarly, except that it’s mirrorless (aka doesn’t have a view finder). I’ve been doing a lot of going around town, but I did get a lot of pictures when Kat and I went to the Schilthorn a couple weeks ago.

Here are the pictures I took near the Zuerich Opera House. When I first got the camera, I took a lot of pictures at Sihlcity. There’s also the set I took at Buerkliplatz, which is across from the Zuerich Opera House. (The picture of the old man on the bench is one of my favorites.) And of course, the Schilthorn pictures.

I’m still learning the lenses and the camera at the moment, but I’m getting a lot of pictures I like. It’s a lot of fun, too, and is a good excuse to go out and explore more of the city.

Ashford E-Spinner 3

On the fiber art front, I decided to start doing spinning and weaving again, now that the weather is cooler. The problem was that I liked to sit and spin while watching TV with The Wife, but the way our living room is here, I couldn’t use my Louet Victoria (manual travel wheel) to do that. I remembered that there was such a thing as electric wheels, and decided to do some research and get one. I ended up with an Ashford E-spinner 3, which is quite lovely and works a treat. What’s really surprising me is that it can spin up so much yarn in such a short period of time. It’s also really nice to only have to focus on drafting! Part of me wonders why I didn’t get one sooner!

I also sold my tapestry loom to a nice person in the States through Ravelry. I realized that tapestry weaving, while really interesting, is not entirely my thing. It was more frustrating to me than relaxing, which is a lot of why I do spinning and weaving in the first place. Hopefully, it’s new owner will have a good time with it, and I can go back to finishing the project on my rigid heddle loom. (Which, I’m sad to say, has been sitting there for months.)

Art is good, and I always thank my mom for making sure I did some sort of art. Hooray for sanity preservation! 🙂

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Yes, I know. It’s been awhile.

To be honest, it’s been a good, but hard (writing-wise) couple of months. August was hot, and I was trying to get some writing in, (I did manage some writing), but not the same momentum I had before my depression crash in May. I did get a lot of doctor appointments done, though, and it appears I’m in good physical health (although the usual fatphobic medicine stuff made it rough going, even with the overall great Swiss medical care).

In September we did a lot of travelling, which was great fun! The Wife bought a Porsche 911 Turbo, which is quite the sexy car (very fitting for her!) and we went road trippin’. We took our first spin up to the Schilthorn, which is where, if you didn’t know, the James Bond film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” was filmed. Of course, we had to go to the James Bond Brunch at the 360 Restaurant! The weather wasn’t cooperating with the view from the top, but that didn’t stop the trip from being amazing!

The Wife made a little video of the trip:

Yes, that was our view out of our hotel room. It was glorious! We’re definitely going to go back again for another weekend!

UN Building in Geneva

The week after the Schilthorn, we took a massive road trip to show off the car to my Father-In-Law in Mallorca, Spain. We first went to Geneva, where I finally got to see the UN Building there. I’ve now been to all three major sites for the UN (NYC, San Francisco, and Geneva). I know, a strange kind of goal, but I’m a history nerd, what can I say?

After a couple of days in Geneva, we drove to Perpignan, France. The drive was really nice, and the French countryside, even from the highway, was really beautiful! The only not-so-great place was a rest area restaurant where there was cafeteria style food that was completely unattended and looked extremely unappetizing. Weird for France, I know! We left there pretty quickly, and just decided to go to our hotel, where, even though it was a really basic hotel, the little restaurant made up for the nasty rest area!

The Tabby that Figured Out Who the Witches Were

We also had a couple of kitties come and join us for dinner. They were super cute, and pretty smart. The waitresses tried to shoo them away, but there were many of us diners who snuck them some chicken or sausage. This tabby seemed pretty fond of us, even before we got our food. Probably figured us for the witches we are!

The funniest thing to see was all of the men have their brains explode a little when they saw us get out of the Porsche. When we pulled into the hotel parking lot at Perpignan, there were a lot of construction contract workers in the parking lot. They all turned their heads to check out the car (of course, right?), but you should have seen their jaws drop when we got out. This happened a lot during the trip, and I can’t lie, I got a certain bit of satisfaction watching it happen. 😉

The Ferry to Mallorca

The next day, we drove to Barcelona. Finding where we were supposed to be was rough going, but after several roundabout circuits, we finally managed to figure out where the ticket office was. There was even a part where The Wife had to play “dumb tourists” to a cop because we were so turned around. (No worries. I think he basically said the equivalent of “friggin’ tourists!” in Spanish and let us go on our way.) We finally made it to the parking area to wait to get on the ferry, and eventually onto the ship itself. I’d never been on a ferry like that before, and while it was a good experience, we both decided that we’ll stick to flying for future trips.

Porsche 911 baby! It’s so pretty!

We had a lovely time in Mallorca, very chill, with lots of good food. We even saw some hot air balloons on our way back to Palma for the trip back to Barcelona!

Hot Air Balloons in Mallorca

After surviving Barcelona traffic and a night at a hotel after the return ferry, we went back through France. This time we stopped in Grenoble. The hotel was just outside the city, but it felt like it was in the middle of nowhere. We had a great dinner and breakfast, and I also whipped out the camera to take pictures of the beautiful scenery just outside our window!

An Old Abbey we could see from our hotel room in Grenoble, France

After that we made it back to Zuerich, and we were quite happy to do so. It was an awesome trip, but it’s always good to come home again. We’re planning many more road trips for the future.

This month, so far, I’ve been planning for Samhain, taking our friend Kat up to the Schilthorn, and recovering from the road trip. I’ll post pictures from the Schilthorn trip in another post, as I need to brag about my new camera!

But right this second, I’m trying to clear the decks in preparation for NaNoWriMo. I hope to either completely finish my novel, or at least get this next part of the novel done. If you’re also doing NaNo, come friend me over there!

Writing:

  • Unity Space Corps: This is a military hard sci-fi novel set in a future where humans have colonized several other planets. The main character is a Religious Program Specialist and Senior Communications officer who has PTSD and works with the station’s Chaplain to figure out why the colonization survey they’re supporting isn’t going according to plan.
    • Finished Draft Part 1 (Chapters 1-17!)
    • Started Chapter 3 of Part 2
    • Word count as of today: 63077
  • The Four Keys: A spiritual prose journey to the underworld and back.
    • Needs final edit pass and cover for e-book version.
    • Graphic novel version on hold for the time being.
  • The Little Tarot E-book: This is a book started for my tarot class here in Zuerich
    • Still in draft. Need to finish Major Arcana and more spreads.
    • Edits will happen after NaNo

Travel:

  • Next Introvert Trip: Maybe back up to the mountains, or Lugano? Maybe in November.
  • Florida Trip: Going to Florida from January 7-21, 2020 to visit my parents.
  • Possible Road Trips to Various European Places: Still deciding
  • Rome/Vatican: Will definitely be going, but still need to plan.

Fiber Arts:

Now that Fall is settling in and it’s getting closer to Winter, I’m starting to pick up my fiber stuff again. I decided to sell my tapestry loom, since, while I like it, I don’t love it like I do rigid heddle weaving or the inkle loom. I’ve sold it to a nice person in Iowa, and I hope they get a lot of great use out of it!

I’ve also decided to get an electric wheel. I love my Louet Victoria, don’t get me wrong, but the way we have things arranged in our apartment, it’s not as practical for me to spin with the Victoria while watching TV anymore. An electric spinner is going to solve that problem quite nicely. I’m going to get the Ashford E-spinner 3, which comes with the spinner, foot pedal, 3 bobbins, Lazy Kate, and a bag to carry it all in. There’s a local Swiss fiber place where I can order it, too! (Yay! No VAT!)

I’ve also started crocheting again, and at the moment have picked back up the Bacon Scarf I’ve been making for Sarah. (I am actually using a bacon colored yarn, and it sort of looks like bacon. Pics coming later!) I also have a project that is months overdue on the loom, but I think I’ll get back on that horse, too. Winter is a really good time for it!

Photography:

I’ve been really getting into photography in the last few months. I’d been borrowing Sarah’s Nikon Df for awhile, and I love the camera, but we both realized it was time for me to get my own camera and lenses. After much discussion, I decided on a Fuji X-A3 and three lenses. I’ll write more nerdy details about it in another post, but I’m really enjoying it so far. Still learning the tech stuff, but it’s been really fun!

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So, yeah, that life thing…

Sometimes you make a plan, and The Universe just laughs and sets fire to said plan. Yeah, it’s been like that since I last posted. I am taking care of things and adulting around a bunch of stuff, so, at least at the moment, things are on even keel.

I tell you, folks, Depression is a bastard liar who is NOT your friend. But thanks to a very perceptive Wife, a good network of friends who know good care providers, I’m giving this bastard Depression the middle finger. (Or at least telling it quietly to fuck off and asking it to please will you just let me write?)

I’m getting back to writing after a couple of weeks dealing with a Depression hit. (I suppose you could call it a relapsing/remitting depression?) It’s hard, but I try and be happy for small victories. Like: Yay! I wrote 4 paragraphs (or for an hour, etc). Yay! I made a call! Yay! I actually went out today! Yay! I got up, took a shower, and made breakfast! Yay! I did my German homework!

One day at a time and little victories, right?

Writing:

  • Unity Space Corps: This is a military hard sci-fi novel set in a future where humans have colonized several other planets. The main character is a Religious Program Specialist and Senior Communications officer who has PTSD and works with the station’s Chaplain to figure out why the colonization survey they’re supporting isn’t going according to plan.
    • Finished Part 1 (Chapters 1-17!) and have started part 2 (Chapter 18)!
    • The Wife really likes it so far!
  • The Four Keys: A spiritual prose journey to the underworld and back.
    • Last edit pass in prep for e-book version
    • The Wife will be doing cover art for e-book version and we’re prepping for doing the Graphic Novel version.
  • Between the Worlds Church Sermons 2018-2019: A collection of sermons from my live services in 2018 and 2019 for Between the Worlds Church.
    • On hold for the time being.

Travel:

  • Geneva: Going to go to Geneva in late July or early August for a writing retreat. (It’s not an organized one, just going to Geneva, getting a nice hotel, and just writing for a few days.
  • Possible Road Trips to Various European Places: TBA
  • Rome/Vatican: Will definitely be going, but still need to plan.

Fiber Arts:

Not mine, but my friend Sydney’s from Nerd Coffee:

The Non-Binary Canary
The Non-Binary Canary!

German:

Still in A1, but still doing well. Finished watching Enterprise in German, and are now watching the movies for a bit of a break. After that we’ll probably watch either Voyager or Discovery in German.

Still finding confidence hard with my spoken German, but I seem to be understanding better. Also, it seems if I tell folks I’m learning, or trying to remember vocabulary, they are more than willing to just keep talking to me in German (and usually slower).

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Priorities, Man, Priorities…

Yes, I’m still around. I’ve just been neglectful of this poor blog because, well, I’ve been writing.

I had an epiphany about a month or so ago, and I wasn’t giving my writing the proper priority in my life. I was treating my writing as a hobby, but if I wanted to get somewhere with it, I needed to start treating it as my job. Something clicked for me about this shift in priority, and now I’m five chapters into a novel that is just, well….getting written!

Go figure, right?

It’s been awesome, and I’m loving it, but today I really had to re-think my projects and scheduling. In the end, and with help from the Wife, I decided to switch to a monthly service schedule for Between the Worlds Church. This will start in June, and more information will be posted on the church website.

But, as far as this site goes, I’ll be updating kind of randomly about my progress, travel, and other things. You can sign up via email here, or follow me on Twitter and Facebook to keep updated.

All the Projects!

Writing:

  • Unity Space Corps: This is a military hard sci-fi novel set in a future where humans have colonized several other planets. The main character is a Religious Program Specialist and Senior Communications officer who has PTSD and works with the station’s Chaplain to figure out why the colonization survey they’re supporting isn’t going according to plan. (1st Draft, up to chapter 5.)
  • The Four Keys: A spiritual prose journey to the underworld and back. (Beta reading/ 3rd draft — looking to self-publish in June)
  • Between the Worlds Church Sermons 2018: Collected sermons from my live services in 2018 for Between the Worlds Church. (Collated, editing 2nd draft — looking to self-publish in August)

Travel:

  • Geneva: The Wife and I are going to Geneva in early June for a belated anniversary trip! I’m really excited to see the UN Building and taking some great pictures! (I think I’ll take both the Df and the Polaroid…)
  • Germany: Mid June we’re going to Bochum, Germany to see Dead Can Dance!!!!!!!!! Soooooo excited!!
  • UK: Possibly a somewhat long trip to the UK over the summer. (Nothing really definite or planned yet.)
  • Rome/Vatican: Thinking about a trip to the Vatican and Rome in late Fall

Fiber Arts:

Nothing really happening with fiber stuff because writing.

German:

We’re about halfway through our A1 coursebook at this point, and finally starting to learn Dativ and Past Perfect tense. Makes a huge difference. We’re also still watching Star Trek TOS with the German dub for listening practice, and I believe we will moving on to Enterprise next (or maybe re-watching Discovery).

Not really a cauldron, but close enough. 🙂 Thanks to Eel and Otter Press!

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Weaver, Weaver

I know it’s been awhile, but I’ve been sucked into my new obsession: weaving! I’m still spinning, for sure, but crochet wasn’t always as satisfying as weaving seems to be. So, now I’m spinning to weave, and it’s awesome.

I used cotton yarn that I wanted to get rid of for my first project, and I ended up making a very nice cross body bag that fits my tablet, kindle, etc. I first did the strap on my inkle loom using self-striping orange/brown/white cotton for the warp and a dark brown cotton for the weft:

Then, I received my rigid heddle loom and using the same brown cotton and self-striping cotton, I made the body of the bag. It started like this:

And this is when I took it off the loom and washed it:

Initially, I used the same cotton yarn to sew it up, so it looked like this:

Which wasn’t excessively horrible, but didn’t look as finished as I wanted it to be. So, after that I used some upholstery thread, and now it looks like this:

It’s been awesome, I’m really loving it, and people seem to really like the bag!

Here’s another project I did:

Which ended up becoming a long lap blanket for the wife (and cats):

I have a lot of ideas for more projects (and Christmas/Yule presents) and I’m getting more heddles for the loom this week so I can use finer threads! 🙂

So, if you don’t hear much from me, this is what I’m doing! 🙂

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