¡Madrid!

Warning: Picture-heavy post ahead

As mentioned in my last post, we went to Madrid! It was another one of PHD’s work trips, and again it was six weeks in total. We left from there three weeks ago and it was great!

We shared an apartment with the same crew as in Los Angeles, with the addition of PHD’s two descendants (one being the bean, the other PHD’s PhD student). Here’s some of us hanging out after breakfast:

Morning hangout with part of the #madrid #conferencefamily

A photo posted by Aline Prantl (@lazylinchen) on

Unlike last time, we didn’t have any house parties, though. As you can see from the picture above, the apartment was quite small. In addition it was stuffed full of knick-knacks, which made watching the bean (who just started to crawl when we arrived) a pain in the behind. So, one of the first communal efforts was cleaning and child-proofing:

Our rental in #madrid was so dusty that we decided on an impromptu cleaning session.

A photo posted by Aline Prantl (@lazylinchen) on

Other than that, the apartment was quite the find. It was located within short walking distance of Plaza Mayor, close to the metro station La Latina. Thus it was perfectly located to go explore the city with the bean. We mostly just went on daily walks around the neighborhood, but every now and then ventured into other areas. Here are some impressions from these walks:

Traditional vs. Modern Art

Plaza del Sol - So many people!

Plaza del Sol – So many people!

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Royal Palace – Plus some greenery

Unlike with other cities I hadn’t heard much about Madrid beforehand and thus didn’t have any expectations nor any clue what this city is like. So naturally I couldn’t be disappointed. Not that I could have been, anyway!

It was my second trip to Spain and the second city I was visiting there (the first being Sevilla, which is absolutely gorgeous!). We also went on a weekend trip to Barcelona on ascension weekend (maybe I’ll write about that as well, don’t know yet). What struck me in each of these cities was the amount of green there was. There are many parks throughout, be they small or huge. Thus, even when living in the center, as we did, the quality of life is great! The two parks that impressed me the most were the Retiro and the very new riverside park. Here are some of the things you can find in the Retiro:

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Retiro Pool – I have no idea what the monument is for

The Crystal Palace - Could be built in Rivendell

The Crystal Palace – Could be built in Rivendell

Inside The Crystal Palace - Gorgeous temporary relaxing space

Inside The Crystal Palace – Gorgeous temporary relaxing space

Statue of The Fallen Angel – Unique in the world, I was told

Of course there is plenty more to see in the park, it is absolutely huge! I retrospect, I should have spent way more time there and taken way more pictures. ;)

The other park that resonated with me a lot was the new Madrid Rio Park. To make a long story short, the highway that used to be beside the riverbank got put underground and replaced by this huge park. I think this is a freaking genius idea and should be adopted by every single city on the planet! Again, I didn’t spend nearly enough time in the park, not to speak of taking pictures, so these will have to suffice:

Futuristic Foot Bridge – Combining technology and nature in aesthetically pleasing ways

Loads Of Slides – Weeeee!

Of course I also thoroughly enjoyed eating out. After the long winter in fast and pub food city (officially known as Jyväskylä) I was craving something different. That something came in the form of tapas and pinchos, which I ate for lunch almost every day:

Today's #lunch in #madrid

A photo posted by Aline Prantl (@lazylinchen) on

#latergram yesterday's lunch: #salmorejo in #madrid

A photo posted by Aline Prantl (@lazylinchen) on

 Once I am back home in Finland, I want to start making tapas. I love how it allows me to eat many different things while still keeping the amount of food small. Let’s hope I can stick to that intention!

This post is already getting quite long, and I haven’t even mentioned the fabric shopping I did! I doubt I will have the time for a separate post, so I guess I will just leave that part out. Though, if you are interested in fabric shopping in Madrid, in the comments of my last post there is a very handy Google map with shop locations.

I had such a lovely time staying in Madrid, that I am sure to return (and hopefully soon!) We have more travel plans coming up, though, as PHD just got a research grant that will allow him to travel a lot in the next five years. So far, the plan includes a stay in Sydney in October and November. I would love to meet some folks there, so if you are interested, please let me know!

Laterblog Vol. 1

…I finished this coat already some time ago… Yeah, well… I could repeat again about why I bother to blog it so much later, but you know, I’ve said it before. So from now on, out-of season pictures will not be commented on further.

For those of you who follow me on Instagram (I’m Lazylinchen there as well), or have read my last post, this coat must look very familiar.

Fashion Shoot! – Well, probably more like catalogue…

It has taken up my sewing time and instagramming since before Christmas. But that is not even half of the time this garment has lingered on my to do list. Since my long cropped sweater post we all know my projects may take rather long to get done.

This project started its “life” in 2009, when it was published in the August issue of Burda Style. Yes, more than 5 years ago. Both the style lines, as well as the huge hounds-tooth fabric really appealed to me.

First Coat Ever!

Nothing came of it, though as I quickly got distracted by other projects. But then Project Runway season 8 happened. I was/am a huge fan of Mondo‘s work, which felt so fresh and new to me (still does). At that point I remembered the coat and the oversized hounds-tooth print, which I felt could have come straight from his collection. Shortly after, I happened upon this fabric and subsequently traced the pattern. I might even have bought elbow length suede gloves to wear with the 3/4 sleeves…

Then I stalled for the next 4 years. I would get the pattern out every Autumn, read the instructions, get intimidated and postpone to the next year. After all, the fabric was just too precious to mess up.

Glimpse At Lining – Can you believe that we forgot to take pictures of the back? -.-

But last Autumn when I was organising my stash after the move to our new place, I was suddenly over the fabric. So I pulled the pattern out and started cutting. No muslin, because I thought this design is very forgiving in terms of fit.

As for the construction, I took it very slowly and followed the instructions closely. They were usual Burda, but I used the German version, which I suspect makes more sense (plus, I learned to sew in school using Burda). For the collar and lapel, both upper and lower pattern pieces were the same, then (as per instructions) the lower pieces were just eyeballed and pinned to the correct (smaller) size. Apart from that, it was pretty straight forward. For the lining I tried to reduce bulk by eliminating as many seams as possible, as I used polar fleece instead of lining fabric.

I fused the facings and collar only, and in hindsight, I should have block-fused the whole coat, as the fabric is quite shifty (it’s loosely woven cotton) and creases easily.

I took quite a long time to decide on the closure. I should have done bound buttonholes, but I forgot and then it was too late. Regular machine buttonholes didn’t work, the four layers of fabric (I used 2.5 cm seam allowances) plus interfacing were just too much for my machine. In the end I cheated and used big snaps, sewing the buttons on as decoration.

Apart from being the first ever coat I made, there are quite a few firsts for me on this project: first time sewing a flap pocket, first lapel collar, first time sewing a 90º angle.

Collar Close-up

I wore the coat only a few times, as by the time it was finished, it got too warm for it. I had very mixed reviews from people. It seems that either they love it for the boldness, or they don’t get it as it is quite big. I for my part am insanely proud of my coat and love wearing it. Plus, it can even accommodate the little one!

The coat is done! And thanks to the swingyness of it I can fit the kid underneath as well. 😁 #coatmaking

A photo posted by Aline Prantl (@lazylinchen) on

TL;DR I made a coat and am gloriously proud of it!

Now I will have to wait for a long time to put it on again, as we are currently away in Madrid for 6 weeks on another work trip, then on to visit the in-laws in Sicily. If you have any fabric and/or notions shopping tips, for any of the two locations, I’d be very happy to hear them!

Getting Comfortably Out of my Comfort Zone

Ok, so I was at this meetup in Paris, and this being a sewing meetup, I was ogling everybody’s clothes to see which ones were self-made. (I only wore my Cordova jacket, all the rest was bought. For shame!) One garment that caught my eye immediately was this fabulous mustard yellow skirt:

Fabulous!

In the course of the day I found out that it was indeed self-made and that its name is Jade. Lisa (to whom these gorgeously long legs belong) had designed the skirt and was offering it for sale. I did not, however, rush home and buy it immediately, as fabulous as it is. This hip-hugging design was just way out of my comfort zone. I was afraid this eyecatching design would make my saddlebags glaringly obvious. Nevertheless, I couldn’t get the design out of my head.

Therefore, when Lisa looked for reviewers for the improved pattern, I jumped at the opportunity! So there you have it, I got the pattern for free and boy am I happy I did!

Saddlebags? – Nope, not here!

Looking at the finished garment on me, I think either pregnancy has smoothed out the kinks a bit, or it’s just a good design. I would guess the latter. :D Every time I wear it I get at least one compliment, so that also helps! It’s also like wearing pyjamas, thanks to the ponte di roma I used.

The (pdf) pattern, which I think is correctly labelled intermediate, prints on 28 pages (there is also a copy shop version). At first I thought this was quite a lot, but you know, it’s an asymmetric pattern, so of course the pattern pieces aren’t mirrored.

Big Butt? – Yep, but you know… I like big butts…!

The pattern seemed quite straight forward to put together, so I was tempted not to follow the instructions. But this being a review, I did things properly and I’m glad I did. I learned a new and quite ingenious way of attaching the lining and sewing the side seams all in one go! Thanks to the lining, there is also no hemming involved. Double plus!

I initially had some troubles folding the folds (horrible sentence, but, erm, folds are folded… :P ). For that Lisa has helpfully included a folding practice piece that you can print seperately. (Which I didn’t use. I’m stubborn that way.)

Oh, Hi There Stray Thread!

I would usually make a knit garments with my serger/overlock, but because the folds are stitched down, used my regular machine. Too lazy to switch back and forth…

I had never been happy with the zigzag stitch for knits, as it always, always broke after a few wears. So finally I dug out the manual to my 1977 Bernina 831 and found that it has a stretch stitch. IT distorts the fabric just slightly, so I will have to experiment with it further, but it did the job wonderfully insofar as none of the seams has broken so far (that’s 2 weeks of excessive wear).

All in all it was a fairly quick make. I needed a bit of a breather after making about 10’000 muslins for a special dress and the coat you see a bit of in these pictures. While it wasn’t technically a project you can just sew mindlessly, I managed to power through it in 1 evening (cutting) and the next day (sewing), while still caring for the bean.

Final verdict: I am exceedingly happy with this skirt! I think it looks flattering even on a pear shaped figure. Plus, it’s a very eye catching design that’s gotten me tons of compliments already!

The Traveling Never Stops

The Traveling Never Stops

Though the blogging apparently does. Or should I say “takes extended breaks”? :P Again, usually I wouldn’t have written up this post 2 months after the trip (eeek! Where does time go?) But again, it was something special, so I want to document it. :) After we got back home from Paris, we had three weeks of rest. We celebrated Christmas (at least the part when Santa Claus gives the presents) together with our neighbours in the common room. Then, for new year we went to Lapland. This was our third time (first trip here, second here), so we knew the drill: take overnight train to Rovaniemi, then 3 hour bus ride to Levi, where we met my family. This time we had rented a cottage that could accomodate all 8 of us:

The Lumovaara – Highly recommend!

Usually I would go to Switzerland for Christmas, and then spend New Year’s Eve in Italy. But to save the bean that stress, my family decided they needed to see how dark it can get in Lapland. Answer: it gets dark, but not as much as we expected:

Mid-day Sun – Just below the horizon

So day doesn’t technically happen, but there is a beautifully colourful sunrise that morphs seamlessly into sunset.

While there were some activities outside (not for me, mind you, I’m way too lazy :D ), we just enjoyed hanging out together in the evenings. My family got to know the bean and vice versa:

Family Hangout

Once we ventured out all together, to go on a cozy (if slightly cold) reindeer sleigh ride:

Reindeer Sleighing – In a Winter wonderland!

The bean came with us, wrapped up well in an extra blanket and inside my jacket:

Family Picture!

All of this was exceedingly nice, but the occurence that made this trip extra special was this:

Finally! Aurora Borealis!

Yep, three time’s the charm! Now I will never ever have to go to Lapland again! :P (Just kidding! Kind of…)

It was pretty amazing, even if it lasted only about 10 minutes. I’m sure, now that the pressure of having to see them once in my live is gone, I will see them quite often. ;)

Also, with that out of the way (just wanted to induce some jealousy :D ), I leave you with a picture from the bus trip home:

Sun Pillar – apparently a rare occurence as well!

A Long Cropped Sweater

Oh hello there! Long time no see! And to top it off, a make that has been finished since the beginning of November (as you can easily tell from the location of these photos). Usually I wouldn’t bother to write a post about something that “old” and “long ago”, but this one is special. How so? Well, may I introduce you to the sweater that has helped me deal with labour?

Pleased To Meet You! – Being silly in the Jardin des Plantes

But how can a sweater help someone through labour? Well, I had cast it on two days before giving birth and was knitting quite ferouciously up until leaving for the hospital. I was still so focused on it that whenever I needed to take my mind off the pain during labour (that is right before epidural and top ups kicked in) I was picturing this sweater and coming up with outfits. That’s how it got it’s ravelry name (Labour Celtic Hill).

Have Some Side View – To break up the text :)

It’s “Celtic Hill” a design from knitwear designer (and IRL friend) Kessa Tay Anlin. When she published the pattern I knew immediately that I wanted to make it (so bought it within two minutes of seeing it). What can I say, I love cables (both the look and knitting them).

However, I was 3 months pregnant at that time and knew that I wouldn’t be able to wear anything this body conscious in quite some time. So I postponed. When the bean took his time and I got more and more anxious, I needed something to calm my nerves. Knitting cables was exactly what I needed!

Back View – Just because

After coming back home I wasn’t really able to work on it for a few weeks. By the time we went to Paris, though, I started having little pockets of time to myself. Add to this the lack of a sewing machine and it took me almost no time to finish! It is not a difficult knit if you know how to do cabling, and the one fiddly part (grafting the cables) is explained very well in the pattern.

However, from purchasing the pattern, to starting the project, to actually finishing it, it took me a very long time, hence the title of this post.

Cable Detail – try to spot the graft (I can’t)

The yarn (Drops Merino Extrafine) was acquired at the epic closing sale of my favourite LYS. It can therefore be considered as using up stash yarn, even if it was in there for less than half a year. :)

Also, because of the sale, I only got the last 7 skeins of this dyelot. I knew it was not going to be enough for the full length, but was hoping I could get it to at least waist length. As you can see, I suceeded in that, though I used up every last bit of what I had. I love the look of cropped sweaters on me, so I am really, really happy with the outcome!

The above outfit is how I wore it a lot since completion. For the other outfit ideas, I have to get cracking with the sewing machine, as all the high waist pants I own don’t fit me right now. My “to sew list” is very long, though, so who knows if they ever get done! (Keep reading to find out! :P)

What is the longest you worked on an item? (UFOs don’t count) How do you take your mind off unpleasant situations?

Living The Fabulous Life Of…

…a mathematician’s wive. Why fabulous, you may wonder? After all we have our permanent address in the rather lovely, yet unglamorous Jyväskylä (thanks to mathematics). However, if you have seen the tab at the top saying “trips” you know that we are pretty much traveling all the time (this, too, thanks to mathematics).

I am quite a traveler (thanks to having traveler parents), but this time around I was extremely nervous. After all, it was the first trip for the bean, and by airplane! (I don’t enjoy flying all that much) I was so worried that I might even have cried on the first flight. He, however, seems to fit perfectly into our jet-setting live ( :P ) and fell asleep immediately after boarding. We were also lucky that the flight was quite empty and we were able to let him sleep in the car seat.

So where were we heading this time? If you read my blog recently, you know it was to the city that is widely considered one of the most glamorous cities in the world:

Paris!

Yes, it is true that the architecture (at least in the center), shopping and fashion is great here. Even the children are fashionable! But if you have ever spent more than 10 minutes in the metro, you know what I’m talking about when I say: “Paris stinks!” I might also have declared a few times that I don’t like Paris much. (I’m a country chick, so it was just too much (noise, filth, people…) for me). However, I actually liked our stay this time around! A lot of the enjoyment had to do with our accommodation:

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Entrance to Our Apartment Building

The place is in the 5th neighborhood (where the Quartier Latin is) and was found and paid for by the institution in which PHD was attending a research trimester. It is a convenient 15 minutes walk from said institute.

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View From The Bedroom Window

It felt like a secret garden in the middle of the city. We also got to know some lovely neighbours pretty much immediately after arrival. Two of them are a Finnish/French couple with a boy who is only 2 months older than our bean!

The weather was gorgeous and balmy 12-18º C most of the six weeks we spent there. Needless to say it was also day for a lot longer than back home in Finland, so I often took the opportunity and went for a walk in the very close by Jardin des Plantes:

Gogeous Autumn Weather – Soaking up all that sun!

On other occasions I would take a stroll along the Rue Mouffetard (5 minutes walking distance from our temporary home). I forgot to take a picture (D’oh!), but here is one from Wikipedia:

Rue Mouffetard – Full of scrumptious food places

I very often had lunch at the famous “Au P’tit Grec” (to avoid the huge daily queue I usually went at around 11am or 2pm), or took a quiche from “La Maison des Tartes” for dinner. Even though there was a kitchen in our apartment, I very seldom cooked. There were just too many restaurants and take-aways, as well as bakeries, that I had to try. I mean, look at these delicacies:

Cheese! – Cue Wallace and Gromit

Or these pieces of art:

French Confectionery – NamNamNam!

Not to speak of the cafés:

Parisian Breakfast – En famille

I ate so well during these 6 weeks that it was quite the clunker to come back to the Finnish supermarkets and their limited Winter selection. :(

On the up side, I now cook again, which is something I really enjoy! We are already back since the beginning of December, and I have found a new enthusiasm for cooking, very probably thanks to the things I got to see and eat in Paris.

So that’s it from Paris. It only took me 1 month to write this post… -.- So, even if I can’t make up a snazzy ending to this post, that’s it for now! Have a good one!

The Home Tour Continued

Having covered the most important room in my last post, on we go for a tour of the less important rooms of our new apartment. As in the last post, I did not clean/put order before taking photographs. This is pretty much how it looks like on a regular basis in here. Of course the ad online didn’t advertise a sewing space. So what caught my interest instead was a picture of the following room:

Living Area – Includes kitchen, dining and living room

It seemed different from what is usually available on the market here. In most of the apartments we went to see, the kitchen was separate from the eating/living space. So seeing an apartment with an open floor plan was like finding a special snowflake. ;) Add to that the sloped ceiling, which gives this apartment it’s spacious feel:

Living Area – View from the kitchen corner

Though I must say it looked a lot more coordinated furniture wise than these pictures. What can I say, it’s a work in progress. And if I wait until it’s finished, you will very probably never get to see it. :D

Another unusual feature is the upstairs loft, which is visible in the second picture. The ceiling there is only 1.55m high and it therefore doesn’t count as living space. But when I saw it I immediately thought “children’s playroom”! In each of the three smaller rooms there is a ladder leading up to the loft:

Ladder To The Loft – This is the one from PHD’s office

Yes, three smaller rooms. Another unusual thing in Finnish apartments. Average apartments here have two bedrooms. I guess people looking for something bigger look for a house with garden. Since we don’t have time/expertise to take care of either house or garden, we were focusing on apartments. Which, as I said, are usually 2 bedroom affairs. This one has 4 bedrooms in total, which makes it an extra special snowflake.

It’s too big, to be honest, but it seemed quite impossible to find the goldilocks apartment with three bedrooms in the areas we were looking at. But of course we managed just fine filling all of the rooms! :D

As seen from the picture above, one of the rooms serves as PHD’s office. The next one is going to be the bean’s bedroom, once he sleeps on his own (and once we stopped using it as a dumping ground…):

Bean’s Room

It has already changed a bit in appearance since I took these pics (in October). I try to let him have his daytime naps in there so he gets used to sleeping in there. I hope this will make the transition easier, once it is time.

The last room in this row is the guest room:

Guestroom

Just like in our last apartment, this was the room that was finished first. So if you will ever visit, this is what you will get. :)

All the artwork you can see in these pictures were done by my grandfather. He was quite prolific, though never found his own style. Therefore there are a lot of painting styles I could choose from. I love the works of his that focus on a few textured colours, like the one hanging in our bedroom:

Bedroom

The fact that both the chair and curtains coordinate with the painting is a happy accident. The chair itself is another heirloom from my grandparents.

I know I said that we didn’t want to deal with a garden. However, when this apartment turned out to have one, we didn’t really mind. Probably also because “garden” is stretching the definition a bit… Basically the back goes towards a wooded area, which gives us the green (now white) views of a garden, without much work involved. Conveniently there is also a terrace:

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I truly love living here and consider ourselves extremely lucky to have found this gem! The only drawback is that I don’t ever want to move away… :) (We are also very lucky to be living in an area where housing is still affordable. In Paris, Rome or even Zürich the same amount of money would have bought us something not even half this size. Granted, Jyväskylä is far from being as fabulous a city as these, but being the country chick I am, I even kind of prefer it this way.)

I hope you liked this tour of our home! And as you can see, there’s still space for guests, so come and visit while you can! ;)