Thursday, 22 December 2011

A Merry Message With Bells And Chimes

To all you amazing readers who have encouraged me since Millefeuilles was created shortly before the Summer Solstice with generous words or in discreet silence
I wish you a peaceful, joyful Christmas with simple pleasures abounding and a pinch of magic.
Merry Christmas to all BiG sOuLs
and LiTtLe sOuLs.

And if anyone can envisage how to make the small trees below into real hats please let me know!  I love them and they would make a marvellous challenge for next Yuletide. 
I was thinking felted wool, perhaps?
  I cannot wait to see you all in the New Year! I have a few surprises up my sleeve for you.

'Til then,

A bientôt,


ps I should add  that despite the fact our journey begins in a couple of days the only things we have packed and ready are: a sack of gifts, a crate crammed full of Christmas tea, Winter Solstice infusions, Christmas Coffee, proper coffee, Christmas beer, a damned fine champagne and finally, in true French style, a bag brimming with medication - mostly homeopathic -  for you cannot be too careful with three children ;-) 

Sunday, 18 December 2011

A Gift for Pierre

I was about to embark on a fascinating comparison between early seventeenth-century lace and garden parterre designs but I think I will postpone that delight until after Christmas.
 I believe most of us are too wrapped up in the frenzy of festive preparations to be able to concentrate on anything else.
Therefore I will keep things short and sweet.
A little boy has arrived in our lives.  After long years of waiting my French cousin and her husband have become parents to a beautiful eighteen-month old child who has winged his way to their mountain home from Manchuria.
 His name is Pierre and he will be spending his first Christmas 'en famille'.
This pullover is my gift to this special boy.
Pattern: Knitbot Sock Yarn Sweater
Yarn: Madelinetosh Sock in Silver Fox.
Details on Ravelry  (under the name Ornamentation).
This week I have felt gratitude. I received my giveaway gifts from Sue from Mr Micawber's Recipe For Happiness.  I was in awe of the generosity and care involved in all the treasures I received and as you will see below there was magic woven into the presents she selected for me.  I was moved to see how it was possible to share common passions and most importantly I feel that the virtual Sue has become more real to me as I hold her presents in my hands and admire them.
 These decorative mittens were created by Sue and if you too have fallen in love with them click on this link to find a crystal clear tutorial on how to make them.
 This tiny little bag, which was crocheted in winter colours,
 contained these fairytale earrings.  
 Be still my heart!  They are exquisite in colour and simplicity!
 Wait!  There is more!  This book is a treasure chest of delightful patterns inspired by Jane Austen and fascinating historical facts about knitting and textiles.  I absolutely adore it and will be packing it into my Christmas holiday suitcase of treasures so that I may take the time to choose a pattern I may make.
 I would like to make this red capelet for Angélique!
And for those who know how much I hanker after gardens in winter...
There is inspiration to be found everywhere!
 Miraculously, the chocolate has not been devoured yet although it is Héloïse's favourite.

Thank you Sue and thank you also to my new followers and ALL the encouraging, heartwarming comments you have written. Coy Mademoiselle Hiver is blushing to learn how pretty you find her and is preparing for the Winter Solstice Ball.

A bientôt,


Monday, 12 December 2011

Mademoiselle Hiver

Nature is beautiful in winter, and we need to find it so, even if that may mean finding beauty in death, and spinning whatever fairy tale one requires to bridge the unbearable subtraction of flowers.  In winter enjoying the garden may require more effort for those who grow restless to be growing things. Let us not forget those flowerbeds are hibernating, not ruined and feast our senses differently. The absence of flowers frees us from the rousing abundance of growth to gaze upon other wonders such as twigs glazed with ice, snow glittering like diamond dust, or the winter skies streaked with "faded subtle blue, a soft yellow and that intangible pinky lavender" to quote Celia in her response to my question 'What Colour Is Winter?'.

"Winter is the time for thinking and planning, for imagining the garden as someday it may be", writes Katherine Swift in  The Morville Year .  How wonderful to have the space to imagine, I say! She goes on to explain "winter gives us time to look.  We should treasure that... It is not only the body that needs a rest: the eye does, too... I need the sobriety of winter before I can face the clear bright colours of spring with any appetite." 

So for all those linking with Making Winter Week at Mrs Thriftyhousehold let your imagination sparkle while the garden remains bare and we approach the magical Solstice. Let us read more, make more, or simply sit back and dream.
Mademoiselle Hiver has daintily tiptoed her way from her snowy forest home to celebrate the winter solstice (which is also our wedding anniversary) and instill us with magic and wintery enthusiasm.
She has snowflakes dusting her ears...
and her feet embroidered with silver and silk threads.
She has donned her favourite silk skirt and a warm cardigan in which the colours of the winter sky are interwoven: mauve, softest pink, pale blue, grey, and a lick of orange flame for sunsets and candle light to represent one of Sue's winter colours.
Our icy grey rabbit it suitably dressed to attend the Advent balls she has been invited to.  I think she will be a graceful dancer, don't you?
And after dancing the cold nights away she will nestle in last year's unadorned Christmas wreath to sit and dream.

Mademoiselle Hiver: rabbit pattern from Helen Philipps' Simple Sewn Gifts
cardigan adapted from this free pattern
Koigu yarn from here 
Silk scraps from Angélique's christening gown.
Inspired by these childhood favourite of mine... 
taken down from the shelves to share with my children

AnD nOw TaKe A lOoK aT tHiS:

 This beauty was my birthday present to myself and was created by Vivienne at Green Rabbit Designs.  I cannot think of a merrier way of celebrating Advent, Christmas, and each and every day of glorious winter, can you? This bag has followed me everywhere and has been admired by many.  I also received this darling little brooch and three candy canes from Vivienne
 Pop over and see what other wintery goodies she has in store!

I shall leave you with this print to gaze at:
Dreaming of Snow purchased from Karen Davis of Moonlight and Hares 

Have a beautiful Making Winter Week in the company of Thriftyhousehold and Emma at Silverpebble

I may return before the week is ended.

A bientôt,

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Magic And Frozen Gardens

"Many a winter's night she flies through the streets of the town, and peeps in at the windows; and they then freeze in so wondrous a manner that they look like flowers."

Since writing about Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen here two weeks ago 
her icy presence has been felt in our home.
 "The flake of snow grew larger and larger; and at last it was like a young lady, dressed in the finest white gauze, made of a million little flakes like stars. She was so beautiful and delicate, but she was of ice, of dazzling, sparkling ice; yet she lived; her eyes gazed fixedly, like two stars; but there was neither quiet nor repose in them. She nodded towards the window, and beckoned with her hand."

 As part of my treasured birthday gifts I received this book
and this one too.
 Both have inspired me in many ways. The ball of "Silver Fox" Madelinetosh Sock Yarn in the first picture and the ivory silk left from Angélique's christening in the second are being crafted into two surprises which I will reveal soon, very soon...
There is no denying that the magic of winter is seductive. Thank goodness for I must confess I have been feeling bereft recently. I have lost my voice a little on this blog and the reason for this, I believe, is simply because gardens are frozen or - as the text on the page below implies - suspended in time and place. I must look for my inspiration elsewhere.
"Kay and Gerda's parents had large wooden boxes, in which vegetables for the kitchen were planted, and little rose-trees besides: there was a rose in each box, and they grew splendidly. They now thought of placing the boxes across the gutter, so that they nearly reached from one window to the other, and looked just like two walls of flowers. The tendrils of the peas hung down over the boxes; and the rose-trees shot up long branches, twined round the windows, and then bent towards each other: it was almost like a triumphant arch of foliage and flowers. The boxes were very high, and the children knew that they must not creep over them; so they often obtained permission to get out of the windows to each other, and to sit on their little stools among the roses, where they could play delight fully."

If you would like to discover more about this illustrator you can see more of her work here and here.  Let me know if you like her art, won't you please?  I have a good reason for asking ;-)
The Lady Who Understood Magic In Her Flower Garden
Whilst it is normal to yield to the charms of reds and gold with the approaching festive season I still hanker after pinks and greens.

 Inspired by the remaining trailing roses (in December?) which I peek at over lofty garden walls in our glorious village and Amanda Soule's hasty knitting up of these delights
I decided to follow in her footsteps.
 Here is my Dried Rose Petals cardigan.
The pattern is Kelly's "In Threes" 
The yarn is Malabrigo Worsted Merino in "Dusty Pink".
To quote Amanda it's a beautiful breeze of a pattern. 
And what of magic?
A few weeks ago (too many to mention, I'm afraid) I won my FiRsT giveaway from Robin's adorable blog. 
 This keychain has brought me so much luck! A few days later I won AnOtHeR gift this time from Emma's blog Mimi and Tilly which arrived on my birthday!
 Pink paper and purple ribbon...
 And inside.... Just look at those magical topaz earrings!

I couldn't be happier with these two gifts.  Pop over and visit these lovely ladies, won't you, please? Emma is doing a feature on Coco Rose right now!

This is really beginning to sound like a fairytale for BoTh these presents have doubled my luck because THIS week on the same DAY I won a fabulous giveaway at Annie's aNd at Sue's!

Can you believe my luck?  I promise to show you the two splendidly generous books when I receive them. 

Annie has added the final cherry on my GoOd FoRtUnE cake by bestowing a Versatile Blogger Award to Millefeuilles which (and this is really getting embarrassing) has followed one awarded by sweet Trish. I am so LUCKY!
There are wintery, frosty creatures being stitched up right now amonst other treasures and I will reveal all on the week of the 12th December for Making Winter Week at Silverpebble.
Ha!  Somebody cannot wait to get her hands on that soft cardigan!
A bientôt!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Which One's Your Favourite?

Let me begin by wishing my friends across The Pond a very happy and peaceful Thanksgiving this week!

 I was overjoyed to read all your responses to my question "What colour is winter?" in my previous post.  I am now busy creating something which will incorporate ALL the answers you gave me and I cannot wait to show you during the next  Making Winter Week over at Silverpebble's starting December 5th.
Quality Street Chocolates.  
Which is your favourite?  If you are not familiar with them which colour appeals to you particularly?  It can be tricky to choose.
At this time of year I find myself becoming quite dizzy with the vast choice of knitting patterns and gift ideas I would like to make.  My imagination goes wild during the run-up to Christmas. There is however little time in the day and I have been told that nights are for sleeping. Choices have to be made.  Do you feel the same?  If so how do you juggle between desire and reality?
In these moments of giddiness I find SIMPLICITY is best for me.
Hannah Fettig's Sock Yarn Sweater is the perfect solution to calm my feverish thoughts.
This one is for Angélique but can be made for any age. 
Decisions are easy and pleasant now.  Long or short sleeves?  Which delicious yarn?  So many work here: sock yarn and DK are good.  This time I opted for Rowan's Felted Tweed DK.  I cannot get enough of this yarn. The colour in reality is much richer and plummier than seen here.
Details to be found on Ravelry
 November 22nd is the Feast Day of Saint Cecilia the patroness of music.
It also happens to be my birthday...
Carlo Saraceni Saint Cecilia and the Angel
c. 1610
... and so I would like to share two divine treats with you.
I make no secret about my passion for Baroque Music.  Every year around my birthday I reach out for Purcell's "Odes for Saint Cecilia's Day".  Dear readers this work is sublime. It holds joy, melancholy and overall profound beauty.  Few things arouse patriotism in me - I am half French and half English - but this is so quintessentially British in both harmony and text (by NIcholas Brady) it is guaranteed to bring me out in goose bumps.

"Hark! hark! each Tree its silence breaks,
The Box and Fir to talk begin!
This is the sprightly Violin
That in the Flute distinctly speaks!"

Isn't this beautiful?  The trees are finally able to sing once they have been lovingly crafted into violins or wooden flutes.

If anyone is interested this interpretation is breathtaking although there are others.

My second treat takes us swiftly to nineteenth-century Paris. I am currently totally absorbed by Emile Zola's The Ladies' Paradise - Au Bonheur des Dames  Here is the nineteenth-century version of "shop 'til you drop" and it is an absolute joy to read.  Written in 1883 it traces the beginnings of the department store and contains fascinating insight into the role of women in Parisian society and mouth-watering details about fashion and textiles.  The theory behind the department store was that it suppled a desire you didn't know you had until you set foot in the door and Zola's imagery createes a sub-text of desire to beat them all in this book. 

It is a page-turner with a happy ending.

I wish you much joy this week.
 See you soon!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

What Colour is Winter?

A warm hello to you all!
 We have had the great fortune of a three-day weekend as Armistice Day is a public holiday in France.  The weather has been glorious.
It is already mid-November and we are hurtling towards the winter solstice.  I have been thinking a great deal about why I love winter so.  When I was a child I would peer through the window every morning in the hope of finding snow or sparkling frost on the ground.  I fed my fascination with winter by reading  Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen and The Little Match Girl and would while away the dark afternoons by listening to Tchaikovsky's Winter Daydreams Symphony No° 1.
And now I find myself wondering what colour is winter? 
 This week as I sat nursing my bronchitis (I am feeling much better, thank you) and knitting this shawl the soft shades of celadon and gossamer grey reflected my idea of winter perfectly.  Old Man's Beard,the bright yellow pigments of lichen with a splash of berry red provide the perfect colour backdrop.
I will be working on the association between winter and colour over the next few weeks for no doubt - fickle creature that I am - my perception will change.
Katherine Swift writes:

"My garden was conceived in winter: a garden of ruler-straight lines and precise measurements, of black ink and white paper, moonlight and shadows."

 She continues by giving her thoughts on the colours of winter in the second paragraph on the following page:

She finishes by writing:

"I dress in monochrome, too: working with old books in out-of-the-way corners of dusty libraries I long ago adopted black as a simple everyday expedient.  Is there a connection? The subfusc of academic uniform, the black velvet of winter parties, the black and white of text on page, this liking for winter?"

Black and white for the garden lover and writer Katherine Swift.  Greys and pale jade green and blue for me.

And now I ask what colour is winter to YOU?

Before I leave you I urge you to pop over to visit Annie's amazing blog.  She is having a most marvellous giveaway so hurry, hurry over!

Have a beautiful week,


 Yarn: Madelintosh DK in Celadon and Gossamer delivered, you may recall, by the Madelintosh Fairy in the cabbage patch.

A blissful knit.
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