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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Fairy Queen

 
Fairy:

Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander every where,
Swifter than the moone's sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green:
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In their freckles live their savours:
I must go seek some dew-drops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.
Farewell, thou lob of spirits: I'll be gone:
Our queen and all her elves come here anon.

A Midsummer-Night's Dream (2.1.2-17)

I never cease to marvel at the human ability to seek out and create beauty during traumatic times.  This bridal shawl, strung with around four hundred glistening glass beads, became an emotional life raft for me over April as malevolence took root in my home and I found myself hurtling down a rabbit hole into an eerie Alice In Wonderland world where nothing felt as it should.  And however much I felt the panic rising within me I was determined to savour the pleasures of April.  I observed the prettiness of wild primroses, violets and cowslips together with the cheeriness of cultivated tulips but, just as the first coffee of the morning had lost its flavour, I just could not feel them.  Come the month of May, however, I will be given a new lease of life.  Once my husband leaves our home there will be fewer lies, threats and less manipulation. I will be in the constant company of my three precious children. I have the gift of a new life ahead and I feel so very blessed.

Shawl: Mustardseed by Boo Knits
Yarn: Quince and Co.'s wispy, silky, laceweight Piper in the Longhorn colourway.
Model: a most patient Héloïse.

I cannot even begin to show my gratitude to you all for your kindness and supportive comments these past weeks.  Your wise words and virtual hugs have made an unbearable situation almost bearable.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Stephanie x 


Sunday, 19 April 2015

Venetian

Dear friends,

There will be few words again today.  The betrayal, malevolence and contempt I have been subjected to in my home since the early weeks of this year have made creative thinking almost impossible for the time being.  I hesitated before putting those words down but I know my situation, however painful and frightening, is sadly a common one.  True friends and family -and perhaps too an inner strength - have saved me from floundering and have reminded me on an almost daily basis that there is light at the end of this long, dark tunnel.   I have trained myself to focus solely on love, light and goodness and to turn away from all demeaning thoughts and to remain steadfast in my relationship with those I hold most dear.  There will be release from this intensely stressful time at the end of this month although I realise other challenges lie ahead.  Whilst I am a sensitive and anxious woman I also remain a fighter.

I took the pictures below of Héloïse (who turns nineteen at the end of April) a few weeks ago under a steady drizzle.  We chose this beautiful, rich colourway, Venetian, by Madelinetosh for her latest pullover; a pattern by Tin Can Knits called Prairie Fire: some of you might remember this version I made for Angélique last autumn? I look back on the hour spent here with her under the rain, surrounded by damp, blossoming trees with a quiet sense of joy and gratitude.  Héloïse has been a steadfast source of kindness throughout these times.  The least she deserves is a handknit pullover!
And here is Héloïse in her very first minor television role in a French series most fittingly cast as an angel!
 Warmest wishes to you all.  I hope your spring is both peaceful and enjoyable.
 
Stephanie x


Friday, 13 March 2015

Upheaval


 Dear friends,
The past two months since my last post have been so very, very difficult.  I am in the midst of an upheaval which is bound to bring about some changes.  I will not put my thoughts into words here as I wish, above all else, to protect those I love and respect.  It is quite simply not solely my story to tell.  However despite the challenges I face I marvel at this opportunity to learn and grow.  And, despite the pain I face, I am determined to choose colour over darkness and smile...most of the time.
 
I will be back soon, dear friends, I promise, with a cheerier and slightly longer post.  In the meantime if you have any advice for getting through uncertain times I would love to hear from you.
 
The pictures above are of a kitten named Miss Tea Rose and a springtime Vintage Bouquet by Dani Sunshine (my fourth).

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

A Gentle Giant

  Dear readers,
 
It is believed that every cloud has a silver lining.  Whilst reeling from the unspeakable horrors which unfolded in Paris on January 8th and beyond, I stumbled my way through my humdrum existence hoping to hear, somewhere, a few snatched words of wisdom which could cut through the inexplicable cruelty wreaked by a handful of lost souls upon others.  Many conversations were shared; with friends and family, of course, with the butcher, plumber and neighbour but I did not realise that I would finally find solace in the words of a giant born nearly five hundred years ago.
 
The wildly obscene humour of Pantagruel (1532), written by our local Renaissance author, François Rabelais, has been dramatised recently by the French stage designer and Renaissance and Baroque specialist, Benjamin Lazar.  A meeting with gracious Lazar, the formidable and hugely warmhearted actor Olivier Martin-Salvan, who was born to take on the role of the friendly giant Pantagruel, and the two musicians involved in the production, was arranged one evening last week.  As I sat beside my daughter Héloïse, surrounded by a small group of Pantagruel enthusiasts who were uplifted by the show they had just enjoyed, with my notebook and pen in hand, I put my weariness of recent events to one side and devoured the words, in true Pantagruel style, of these four creative men.
 
And then there was the performance on the following night, a selection of extracts from Rabelais' voluminous Pantagruel. We marvelled at the actor's formidable memory - lengthy monologues in five early European languages left us speechless with wonder and hilarity was born from the scene where Pantagruel, hungry for knowledge, devours book upon book in a Parisian Library with startling effects, at times, on his digestion.  The language of Rabelais, both obscene and flowery, can best be described as earthy poetry, I believe.  It must not be forgotten that this formidable Renaissance writer, first monk, then physician, was intoxicated by the sudden availability of all manner of books so shortly after the first printing press had seen the light.  The stage director, who usually inhabits a theatrical world where candles are the only form of light, chose this time to play with electricity in an obscure world where a giant roams the earth.  It was Lazar's intention to  connect Rabalais' universe with our own.  Playing with electric light cast a human-sized actor into the shape of a giant, helium-filled jelly-fish balloons bobbed on the waves of a stormy sea and sixteenth-century instruments mostly played contemporary music in a most convincing manner.
 
Hilarity  and wonder aside, it was in the words of a tolerant, magnanimous  (and very hairy) giant clad in an animal skin, who continuously practises the art of unflinching gentleness, that I finally found my silver lining.  As Pantagruel recited the formal and elaborate letter received from his Humanist father advising him on his education, the following words rang out:
 
Wisdom enters not into a malicious mind, and [...] knowledge without conscience is but the ruin of the soul.[...] Be servicable to all thy neighbours, and love them as thyself.
 
And there it was.  Lazar and Martin-Salvan had succeeded in bridging the gap of five centuries.  If Pantagruel's father urges him to learn the languages and wisdom of all races he also advises him to remain kind and altruistic.  As I walked out of the theatre I realised that little had changed in the grand scheme of things but thanks to François Rabelais and a handful of creative souls my faith had been restored in humanity.
 
If you are interested in reading about Rabelais and his world, this book is enlightening and an excellent read whereas this translation of Pantagruel, I believe, is a good one.
 
*****************************************************
All pictures below reveal my manner this month of softening the blow of events in Paris and beyond, and demonstrate, perhaps, my ability to bury my head in the sand.
1.  The pink stole is my second version of Jared Flood's Autumn Leaves Stole.
2.  My first bunch of hyacinths.  They have flowered exquisitely and smell divine.
3. Green the colour of hope, renewal and harmony (batik fabric from Alewives Fabrics).
4. An angel mouse named Charlotte in honour of Charlie Hebdo.
5.  Puck, a dear hat pattern by Dani Sunshine.  This one looks like Confetti Cake.
6.  Finally, Hope, a mouse who represents the promise of spring and new beginnings. 
 
Hope is looking for a home, dear friends; would one of you be kind enough to take her in?  She is a sweet harbinger of peace and spring. A little green sprite poised on a green moss seat bearing snowdrops in her handbag. Soon these delicate green and white flowers will bloom in shady places like forgotten patches of snow, piercing through the unforgiving ground with their pointed leaves and slender stems.  Such is the magic of the natural world.  If you would like to take a closer look you will find her here.
I wish you all well and hope the last few days of January bring you happiness...and a few snowdrops, perhaps.
 
THANK YOU so very, very much for your wonderful comments, both short and long, you take the time to write which both touch and inspire me.  Three cheers for this blogging community! :-)
 
Stephanie x


Thursday, 1 January 2015

All That Glistens



Today everything turned to silver.  Under the clear, bright sky fragile frost crystals scattered light in all directions and although the name 'hoar', from Old English, calls to mind white haired and advanced age it seemed as though, on this first day of the year, the world sparkled with fierce newness like a wilderness of stars in a moonlit sky.  It was our third visit to Chenonceau and the interior of the Château, all a-quiver, rivalled with its frozen, fairytale gardens where box trees stood sentinel and hardy violet pansies shuddered in their cold flowerbeds.  Inside, juxtaposed against the more muted colours of the glorious collection of Renaissance tapestries and paintings, were frosted evergreen branches, towering Christmas trees, clashes of gold and red jostling with silver and white.  Ornamental snowy owls, hedgehogs, squirrels and glitter-coated birds raised an inquisitive eye to the sea of upturned faces and winked at the smiles of delight and wonder.  "This tree is simply perfect for children", murmured a lady, her face shining.  "And that is why it is surrounded by adults; look!", I laughed.  Though some of the decorations seemed a trifle gaudy the dazzling show of white and green hyacinths carried hope through the air.  'Happy New Years' rang through the Château's forecourt and gallery as everyone's breath turned white.
 
So, dear friends, I will not be including a brief history of this exquisite château, embellished and protected by a fistful of remarkable women since 1513, - not this time, at least - but will turn to each of you with a glad heart and wish you a very peaceful, joyful and prosperous New Year.  May 2015 be full of light, hope and a sprinkling of magic. There is something about the number 2015 which pleases me...
 
And below, of course, a spot of frosty knitting.  Wintery Leaves glazed with ice; a delightfully addictive pattern by Jared Flood knit with five skeins of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in the Snowbound colourway.  Completed in time for the winter solstice and sent, late, as a Christmas present to a special friend.
 
Happy New Year!
 
Stephanie x
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