Sunday, November 22, 2009

Welcome the death

Day of the Death or Día de Muertos is celebrated here in Mexico in the beginning of the November. It's my absolute favorite of Mexican fiestas, so even though it was already couple of weeks ago, I want to show you some pictures I took this year from the altars in Coyocan (my favorite part of the city) and at the University.

The Day of the Death is not like Halloween, although you can see more and more Halloween stuff in the shops, which is a great shame, I think. I much prefer the traditional sugar skulls, cempazutchil (the orange flowers you can see in the photos), the paper decorations and happy skeletons to all those comercial monster stuff.

During the Day of the Death celebrations you see skulls, and skeletons and other symbols of the Death everywhere, but they are not scary. The death come to the Earth to visit their love ones, who build them altars with their favorite foods and drinks. There's nothing scary about that... '

That's exactly why I love this fiesta. The Death is not something scary, it's familiar and close, something that happens to everyone. You can even joke with it, and the skeletons are often represented drinking tequila, partying and doing other earthly stuff. Or smiling gently, as the lady in this picture:

Great attitude towards the Death, colourfull and ingenious decorations and the yummy pan de muertos (bread of the Death, special holiday bun made only for this fiesta) - how could you not love it?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Suomi, part 1

Here I am again... A lot of time has passed again since my last blog update, so I'll tell you about things that also passed some time ago: my trip to Finland in August.

I had actually thoguht about writing here already from Finland, I had a text in my head and all, but there was really no time for anything like that. Normally I'm busiest in Finland when I'm Helsinki and try to see everyone in the last few days, but this time I was running around all time. First due to an extra trip to Helsinki for friend's hen night and then to the fact that boyfriend came to Finland too. Both very nice reasons, though.

It was nice to be in Finland in August. Normally I go earlier in the summer, in June or July, but this time the wedding party made me travel later. That was great - I still got my bit of Finnish summer, but also a nice hue of Finnish autumn that I haven't seen since I moved here.

I have sometimes missed the Finnish autumn here. All the nature's colours (you should see the colours!), the crisp air, the smell of the autumnal forest, berries and mushrooms... The darkening nights, candlelight and the starry sky.

Why, then, haven't I reserved one of my trips to Finland in autumn? Well, it all may sound very romantic, and when the weather is fine, the autumn there is just lovely. But... it can also be raining in the most unromantic way, not always the ruska (the time when the leaves turn from green to yellow, orange and red) is bright and beautiful, and the autumn can be basically very grey and dishearting too. Do I want to take a chance with my trips? No.

But now I got both the summer and the autumn. I got to swim in the lake, eat icecream in the market place, eat strawberries and peas (both tradicional summer delicacies) AND I could also go picking mushrooms in the forest. Me likes!

Sunday, August 2, 2009


On Firefox the images and everything seems to work, so here you, some updates...

I have spent the past months mainly with the thesis (vacations from the university are for thesis writing, right? At least my advisor thinks so...). But I also had a nice guide/interpreter job in June. A group of Finns came here for a wedding, and although I didn't know any of them before, it was a nice week, even with little sleep. Simultaneous interpreting wasn't as difficult as I thought (of course I didn't have to translate totally exactly, which helped a lot). I also got to travel a bit with them. Most of the places where we visited, I already knew, but I got to know some new places too. And I definitively learnt a lot, as I had to find and learn by heart lots of information that I then told to my group.

Here are some pictures:

The Xochicalco piramids near Cuernavaca were very impressive. I hadn't visited there before, so it was really nice to get there. Not only the pyramids are awesome, but also the view from the top of the hill is amazing.

Taxco, the silver city (there a lots of silver smiths in the city and you can get good deals on silver jewelry), was one of our stops. I have been there two or three times before, but it's always a nice place to go.

Even though the thesis is taking a lot of time now, I have also knitted something. My Wilhelmiina was ready already on the first of June and I'm very happy with it.

Pattern: Neja's Wilhelmiina

Yarn: Novita Bambu

Needles: 3,5mm

I used Neja's pattern, but did some modifications. I added a lot of purl stitchesto the underarms and made the cable part much longer than in the original pattern (it wasn't supposed to be as long as in the pictures though - the upper part stretched quite a lot).

I have also been knitting a wedding shawl for my friend, and started also a top down tunic, but you'll get pictures of those later.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Long time no see...

I guess the blog doesn't update itself, so I have to start writing again... I have actually thought about writing for a long time, but the more you wait with the writing, the harder it's start again. But for now on, I'll try to write again more often.

But of course just today, when I decided to finally write something, and show you lots of pictures too, it seems something is wrong with Blogger. I can't add any photos! Or have they just changed everything and I don't get it?

Well, hope they get this sorted out soon...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Back to (almost) normal

The life here in Mexico City is getting slowly back to normal after almost two weeks of influenza epidemic. The primary schools are still closed 'till next Monday, but the highschools and the universities opened again today. Also the restaurants and movie theatres could open up today, but with some restrictions to garantee enough space between each person.

So, everything is almost as normal again, and there are lot less people on the streets with surgical masks. There are other signs remind about the influenza though. The subway, for example, was quite empty compared to normal days (which is nice, but that might chance when all the schools start again). At the university they gave everybody antibacterial gel at the faculty doors. There's supposed to be also at least one or two metres between every student in the class, but that's simply impossible in the small classrooms.
It seems the influenza hasn't been as dangerous as it first was thought, but it might get worse again later. Many seem to think that as the authorities let the schools open again, the influenza is magically gone and you can forget all about it. I was personally never really scared about this, but still prefer to take some precautions, like washing my hands all the time. The influenza might be unlikely to kill you, but it doesn't seem like a nice desease to get anyway. And it would be nice if we didn't have a new epidemic later on.

Well, lets hope this really is time to get back to normality. Meanwhile, please don't discriminate against the Mexicans, if you live somewhere else. The actions for example China has taken, are just absurd. You don't get a flu by just seeing a perfectly healthy person, even if he/she is from Mexico.

And now something different: just wanted to show you the second swap package I got from the grad school swap!

Wool yarn in lovely blue tone, lots of cool pens and highlighters, chocolate and a lovely note pad that has a magnet behind. It will be greatly needed. I always write lists (especially to do lists) on little pieces of paper that I later lose (and might or might not find even later), so having the notebook on my fridge will be very helpful.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

In the ghost town

As probably everyone knows by now, Mexico is suffering from swine influenza epidemic. I have been well and so everyone I know, so you don't have to worry about me. In the worst case scenario, there's a hospital two blocks from my house. And if someone heard about the earthquake (last Monday), nothing happened either. I felt how the house moved, but it didn't scare me or anything. It's always just very strange to feel how the Earth moves. But yes, it felt like "oh great, just what we needed, a quake, as if the influenza wasn't enough"...)

The epidemic is scary, but I think there is no reason to panic, we just need to be careful. There are lots of hysterical people now, buying tons of food from the grocery store and looking at everybody as a potencial source of infection. (Well, everybody is a potencial source, but you should just see the look in their eyes!) And on the other hand, there are still people who are sure this is all a huge conspiracy (of the Government, of the USA... and probably there are other theories too). Then there are also people who think they are not going to get the flu because they've never got ill before, so why worry... I have to say that of these groups, I prefer the hysterical ones. At least they take care of themselves, even if excessively, which helps others too. Happily, most of the people seem to be careful but reasonable.

After the epidemic was announced late last Thursday, I have mainly stayed home or at boyfriend's house. I'm glad that I can write my thesis home, as the University is closed at least until the next week. Today I had to go to the bank and the supermarket, and the city really seems abandoned. There are lot less people on the streets, and all the bars, restaurants, cafés, movie theatres and schools are closed. It was strange... But I have to admit that it was kind of nice to go out after four days, even using the uncorfortable surgical mask. It was nice to feel the sun and the wind. Staying inside all the time is really boring, even if you know it's good for you.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I'm back!

I have been really busy lately with the thesis, which have kept me from writing... And right before Easter, my parents visited me and we traveled together to the beach. And then I was just very sick last week.

I'll be writing about my parents visit later, now I'll just want to show you my first swap package ever! In Ravelry, there's a group for grad school students. I love it and think it really helps me to stay motivated and achieve more, because the idea is to post about your progress with the studies every week. And to spoil ourselves little, we have also swaps! I have never participated in a swap before, but I'm glad I did now! Look at this lovely package Sobeknofret (ravelry-link) send me! So much delicious chocolate and good tea (both quite hard to get here) and other fun things! And lovely, soft yarn... That will become something nice and warm for me.

I haven't had time to knit too much, but here's a baby set I made for my friend's babyshower. I think she liked it! I haven't knitted baby stuff before, but I have to say it's very nice. Kind of instant gratification: you get cute things made in couple of hours. The instructions for the Baby Berry are here.

I have also been knitting Wilhelmiina with Neja's instructions. No photos yet...I started it already on March, but it's advancing very slowly, as the cable charts are quite complex and I can't knit it while I watch TV or am in the car, when I usually mostly get my knitting done. I'm also not very enthusiastic about Wilhelmiina right now. That's probably because being quite stressed with the thesis, I really don't want to knit anything complicated. Buuut... I also don't want to leave it now, because I know I wouldn't pick it any time soon, and I really want to use it. I'm actually waiting to get to the mindless stockinette part. I am!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Elfish sweater and other knits

EDIT: Love and peas is having a blog contest, be sure to check it!
Last weekend I finished my new favourite sweater, Arwen.

Pattern: Kate Gilbert's Cardigan for Arwen

Yarn: Berrocco Ultra Alpaca

Needles: 4 mm Knit Picks
I modified the pattern a lot. I don't really like seaming, so the original construction seemed to be unnecesarily complicated. So I knit the body in one piece until the armpits, finished the rest separately, knitted the sleeves in round and the hood in one piece. My Arwen is also a lot longer than the original one. Practically I only took the idea and the reversible cables from the pattern. I love the cables, by the way. They look much more complicated that they really are - the chart was really easy to memorize (after I found out how to read the chart - it's not done in the usual way).

When I got this ready, it was a hot day, and I thought I wouldn't be able to use the cardigan soon, as it's very warm. Well, no fear! I have already used it these days. It seems that febrero loco really is crazy, at least what comes to the weather. We had some very warm and sunny days last week, and the suddenly thunderstorms, strong winds and cold days again. I'd prefer the warm spring weather, but at the same time I'm also secretly happy that I have a good reason to use Arwen.

Oh, and I have to tell you that this sweater saved me even before it was ready! When I was coming back from Finland, the zipper of my hand luggage got broken in the plane. And I mean totally broken, there was no way to close the baggage again. I could never have got it out of the plane nicely if I hadn't decided to knit the cuffs of this sweater in the plane. That's why I could use my scarf and my lovely alpaca yarn to tie my hand baggage and could somehow carry it. (Yes, I did get some strange looks, but who cares!)

I also finally have some pics of the Christmas presents I made. Boyfriend's mom got a shawl.

Pattern: Nuolitanssi by Elina Urmas

Yarn: Bernat Satin

Needles 4 mm

The pattern was nice and clear. I definitively could use it again. The yarn was quite thick for a lace shawl, but the receiver chose it herself. Well, she didn't really know that I was going to make something for her with it, but once we were together in a shop and she really liked the colour and the yarn.

And last but not least, boyfriend's present. It's called Kivi, which is Finnish for stone.

Kivi Hoodie

Pattern: my own

Yarn: Nalle Colori and Novita Nalle

Needles: 3,5 mm

This is my own design. I'm happy with it, although I still have to do something to the hood - it's too large and seems strange if boyfriend puts it on. (When boyfriend saw my Arwen on Sunday, he said: "How come my hood is so strange and yours is perfect? You always make your own sweaters better than mine!" That's not true... I just learn new tricks always after finishing his sweaters... ;-)

This was a boring knit, as it has so much stockinette stitch. The garter stitch was even worse choice for the upper part, though, it was even more boring and if you make a mistake, correcting it is more difficult. Note to self: don't knit anything for boyfriend with thin yarn and 3,5 mm needles! Or at least no sweaters. This one took several months to make.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Random things

Some time ago, Jaana from Metsän takana challenged me to tell six random things about myself. Here you go!

1. I'm very curious. I'm not generally intersted in cars, for example, but start to fix a car in front of me, and you'll soon see me looking over your shoulder and asking questions.

2. I have studied several foreign languages. The strangest one is probably Northern Sami, spoken by the Sami, the indigenous people of Finland and other Nordic countries. No, I don't have any connection - more than mere interest - to the Sami, and I have only used the language on my University classes and reading some Sami poetry. I still think it hasn't been a waste of time at all. Some day I just might need it, who knows? Besides, the more languages you learn, the easier it gets... And it's wonderful to learn about new ways of thinking and seeing things, and a foreign language is a good way to open perspectives. And well, I said it already - I'm very curious.

3. Walking clears my head. If I'm stressed out, angry, sad or worried, I take a walk. Sometimes when I'm writing my research and feel that some idea is coming, but can't quite get it yet, I walk in my room.

4. Some day I want to travel to Siberia. By train, of course, and for several weeks, without mayor plans, so I could got off the train whenever I wanted and just stay in some village for a while. But before that I would have to study Russian again (I have forgotten almost everything) and learn to sleep in the train.

5. I love mangos. The mango season is about to begin, hurray!

6. I like to keep my curtains open to get as much sunlight as possible. And to see the sky.

I'm not going to challenge anyone else, but if you want to continue the meme, please tell me, so I can visit you!

And now some random stuff: pics of the yarns that I bought from Finland. I "only" brought 2,7 kg... I normally don't buy so much yarn at once, as I prefer to finish one project before starting a new one, but it's easiest for me to bring yarn from Finland. And I have a plan for almost everything.

The red ones are going to be Sylvi, the white Merinosilk is for my friend's wedding shawl, the blue bambu yarn will become Wilhelmiina (as soon as I finish my current project) and Pirkkalanka on the left side will be some kind of multicoloured sweater that I haven't designed yet.

Mom gave me the lovely Sivilla yarns. I'll make two shawls with them, I think.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Trip to Finland, part 2

I got back to Mexico about a week ago, but haven't had time to blog before. The past week has included running around the university like crazy (everything important apparently has to be announced as late as posible), writing a paper for an international congress (I got the acceptance letter 4 days after the deadline for sending the papers) and being sick. Who knows where I got it, but apparently I have had some kind of parasite, and have tried to get over it the last days. Welcome back to reality...

But well, to nicer topics: I can finally show you some pics from my trip to Finland.

It was lovely to be in Finland and see everybody. Although when you live abroad, you notice who your friends really are and who want to see you when you visit. With some people I had the sensation of being a curiosity that comes far away and makes them feel bit awkward because I just don't belong to their lives anymore. But luckily there are still many many friends with whom it feels I was never away. And of course being with family is always very relaxing.

And while I love visiting Finland, and always wish I had more time to spend there, it's also good to be back home. Being a kind of a tourist, moving around all the time and living in other people's houses is also a bit tiring. Maybe someday I'll move back, but for now I'm happy this way. And I know that after living 3 years in Mexico, it would be difficult to adjust to Finland again. It certainly would take time.

I'm not saying that living in Finland wouldn't be easier in many ways. Mostly in practical things, as everything works quite smoothly there. But the mentality... Not that there aren't good things about that too. Talking straight and being (mostly) honest are very good things. But does everything really have to be planned at least 3 months in advance? And while in general things are pretty well there, lots of people seem to complain about everything and make problems out of things that aren't really real problems (I admit, I do complain too much too, and yes, there are also people with real problems there. But you get the point). In Mexico, there are lots of really serious problems, but people have very different attitud towards them. There are lots of joy and happiness, too. It kind of makes the problems easier to bear, I guess.

I have also noticed that while there is solidarity in Finland in general as a society - in the form of a good social security system and taxation that is quite fare, for example - this solidarity doesn't manifest itself in the individual level. People don't help each other - at least strangers - too much. In Mexico, things seem to be other way around: the society as a whole doesn't really care about the poor or the needed, but people are really helpful (at least if they are in the same social strata). I hope it could be possible to have both qualities in one place...
More generally, a combination of the best things in Finland and in Mexico would make quite a good society, I think. Meanwhile, I just have to live in between, always missing something from one country while I'm in the other.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Trip to Finland, part 1

I have been now two weeks in Finland. I spent the Christmas with my dear boyfriend, and then got here. I did finish my knitted presents before Christmas eve, by the way. You'll get the pictures of them when I go back home.

My tour here started in Tampere, the city where I grew up (and which is probably the best city in Finland). Then I got here to Lahti to meet more family and spend some time at my father's cottage. Only Helsinki left to go before I return to Mexico.

I have mainly read, knitted, met family and friends, enjoyed going to sauna as much as I can (I can easily spent couple of hours in sauna too) and of course made long walks to all my favorite places, like an old dog in his territory. I just love to walk in the forest and lake shores! I did some thesis-related stuff in the first days, too, but then I decided it's better to just enjoy the vacations.

I'm so happy that this time the global warming hasn't spoiled my little winter trip and at least in Tampere and Lahti there has been snow. I've missed it a lot, I haven't seen a proper winter in two years. I just love the sound of the snow under my feet, the humming of the wind in the snowy trees and the song of the lake under the ice.

I tried to put some pictures to prove that there really is snow, but Dad's computer doesn't want to cooperate, so next time...