Saturday, 16 July 2011

Angélique's Cardigan

Have you ever read this book?

The Czech author, Karel Capek, was a passionate amateur gardener who composed this book in 1929 as a testament to the gardener's inextinguishable devotion to his plot of cultivated earth.  It is both whimsical and earnest in it's description of the gardener's obsessions:

"I will now tell you how to recognize a real gardener. 'You must come to see me,' he says: 'I will show you my garden.' Then, when you go just to please him, you will find him with his rump sticking up somewhere among the perennials. 'I will come in a moment,' he shouts to you over his shoulder. 'Just wait till I have planted this rose.' 'Please don't worry,' you say kindly to him.  After a while he must have planted it; for he gets up, makes your hand dirty, and beaming with hospitality he says: 'Come and have a look; it's a small garden, but - Wait a moment,' and he bends over a bed to weed some tiny grass. [...] A quarter of an hour later he straightens up again, 'Ah,' he says, 'I wanted to show you that bell flower, Campanula Wilsonae.  This is the best campanula which - Wait a moment, I must tie up this delphinium.' After that you go away on tiptoe, leaving his behind sticking up among the perennials. (pp.7-8)

Capek's book follows the gardener's state of mind (which rarely strays far from his little plot)during the course of a year.  It is also a book about the gardener's love affair with the earth which, the author explains, comes with a certain maturity:

"While I was only a remote and distracted onlooker of the accomplished work of gardens, I considered gardeners to be beings of a peculiarly poetic and gentle mind, who cultivate perfumes of flowers listening to the birds singing.  Now when I look at the affair more closely, I find that a real gardener is not a man who cultivates flowers; he is a man who cultivates the soil." (p. 23)

The Gardener's Year is not a moral allegory yet Capek's experience as a gardener taught him a basic principle: 'you must give more to the soil than you take away'. (p. 88)  It is a beautiful book - full of witty illustrations - by an author who relished the human comedy he found in the garden.

Both the above books contain my youngest daughter's two names: Angélique and Rose.  Between the two there is a Breton name squeezed in - Aëlig - which means 'Angel' too.  Let's be honest; it will be hard for her to live up to a double angel name but when you have a Breton husband there must be a Breton name!

This week I finished the Cardigan Rose which was destined for Angélique.  I wanted to choose a flower name for it from all the beautiful options offered up to me by poetic souls in Blogland: daisy, greeny-cream hydrangeas, lady's mantle, foxgloves, buttercup, apple blossom, alchemilla... Yes, yes, my equally poetic soul cried out to each and every one.  How is a girl supposed to choose?

There was one more flower suggested by Annie. Angelica.  Well, yes.  Although I flirted with the other names my mind was made up.  

And so here is Cardigan Angelica 

Again I fiddled and flirted with various mother of pearl buttons - stalk and leaf green, creamy-coloured - but I opted for a similar colour to the yarn.  'Ah yes', nodded my husband wisely when he saw my choice, 'it makes the cardigan look classic', he added.  'Um, NO!'  I thought. 

So whilst knocking back sipping some chilled Limoncello I hastily sewed on some sequins which represent the seeds from the Angelica plant - how pretentious of me, I know ;-).

This cardigan is not flawless.  If the truth be told I had to frog it halfway through as it was knitting up too big and while it is good to plan for the future I really wanted Angélique to wear it this summer. 

Judging from the rainy weather we are all having it will come in handy, I think.

I hope you like it.  Thank you Annie.  If any of you are not familiar with her beautiful blog please take a peek.  As for the other flower names, well, I'll just have to make up some other knitted creations.  Goodness knows I need the practice!

Have a beautiful week.


  1. A beautiful cardigan. Such a gorgeous colour, possibly my favourite.
    And your daughters name is so beautiful.
    I love the sound of the gardener's year. Thank you for sharing the exerts. It made me smile. I would like to read it!x

  2. Perfect....sigh, just perfect. I love everything about it...and your daughters name.
    x Sandi

  3. Oh it us beautiful and perfectly named. I am chuckling about the book extracts, I have met someone those gardeners.

  4. Yes, that is precisely the worry of an increasing rump size..I am often viewed that side up!! Attending to the soil indeed. I wonder how many tonnes of "stuff" I have lugged on to this property through the years? But I couldn't live without my garden..I would just start doing everyone else's around me I fear! Love the book perched in the apple tree : ) Cardigan Angelique..just delightful both the name & the garment & the sweet little mop buttons. Have a lovely week. Much love Catherine x

  5. Hello again Stephanie :) And thank you so much for all your kind words about knitsofacto, here and there :D

    That cardigan is so cute, and I love the sequins! Glad you liked the Angelica suggestion.

    Karel Capek is a garden writer I hadn't heard of (although I have studied garden history so no doubt should have done), but that book looks like a 'must have'. And those descriptions of the gardener sound a little like our meeting with Viscount Ashbrook at Arley. He has a team of gardeners helping him there but it was still his rump that we encountered as he moved from bed to bed showing us all the plants he delights in :)

  6. I love the book extracts, they were very amusing! Your little cardigan looks very sweet. The one I've made for myself with the same yarn is a very similar pattern - one I love to wear over stripy tee shirts. I put matching buttons on mine. I love your mother of pearl greeny ones and the sequins are a really adorable idea. Thanks so much for your lovely comments on my blog.
    Helen x

  7. Bonjour Madame!

    Your work is absolutely lovely. I like the choice of yarn you used because it has a fine quality to it and the SEQUINS you added to the collar? DIVINE! Oh what a lovely world you have and it is wonderful to see you post again. I have been waiting to see your world again and I am so very happy that you have come to visit me. Enjoy your weekend! Anita

  8. The Gardener's Year Book sounds just the right choice to curl up with on this cold wet and miserable day we are having in the UK today.

    The cardigan is just perfect, lovely shade of pale green.

  9. The cardigan is so pretty, love the sequins that's such a pretty touch! The name is perfect too, I like the idea of making more to fit the other names. Lot's of pretty flower cardigans to come :-)

  10. Your posts are becoming a regular part of my relaxing Sunday mornings Stephanie...a real treat!..
    Angelica....just perfect and your work is beautiful...
    Wishing you a lovely week ahead and hoping for a little sun to shine on our gardens...they have had more than their fair share of rain here!..
    Susan x

  11. Your knitting is simply fantastic. I wish I could knit so well. I love your blog too.

  12. Oh MY!!! Your sweaters are gorgeous! Love this one, and the sequins, a lovely touch! And your "Roses are Pink" is divine!!!

    And if you make a lavender one, you know the name I'd choose....

    ~ Violet

  13. The book sounds perfect and is on my list right now. I am so pleased to have found your blog. The mixture of things to look at, things to admire and things to think about is fab.

  14. A beautiful cardigan and a perfect name, I love the little sequins around the neck. Your daughter's name is so very pretty as well.
    The book extract is great, so true of many gardeners!
    I hope your weather improves too and we all see the return of summer.
    Vivienne x

  15. Smiling: After your description of a real gardener I realize my sister is one. The cardigan is so sweet.

  16. I love naming projects after flowers. Yours is beautiful, and the sequins add just the right touch.

    Thanks for the book recommendation. (I have to admit that Michael Pollan's name caught my eye first.) I'll look for it in our library system.

  17. The sequins make it extra special and I love the name. Your rose one is particularly gorgeous too. Dev x

  18. What a delightful creation, just love the color, cheers Marie

  19. Yet another beautiful cardigan, what lucky girls you have, the shade of green is so pretty and delicate and I love the addition of the sequins. Not too many, just perfect!

  20. Simply lovely cardigan. I love green on my little girl, too.

    Those garden books are beautiful too- I will look out for them both.

  21. Oh, beautiful photos:))) and a knitted work is VERY wonderful .
    It's a very tender!
    Sunny day to you!


  22. I was just thinking that it's a shame all books aren't reviewed in this way, starting with a wonderful photo of the book in an apple tree. I am going to have to get this book, as I can relate very well to the passage you quote. It used to be that if we had visitors to stay, I would have to escape into the garden, my beloved garden, to do some gardening, the visitors always found it amusing. That was before knitting, blogging, sculpting and all the other things took over my life.
    I do love your description of your husband as a Breton husband, it sounds very exotic. My husband is a Yorkshire husband. Not quite so exotic.
    And your beautiful cardigan for your angel, I love the sparkle on it, and your daughter must be thrilled with it, I know my Niece loves sparkle, as do many little girls.
    Vanessa xxx

  23. I have never read the book, but your little knitty creation is just lovely.....and I love the name too.

    Nina x

  24. Beautiful. I love that lime green colour and the details.

  25. ooh those apples are so mouth watering, I must say im not good in gardening, always killed what i planted, many times! guess i dont have green thumbs but i keep trying and trying :) sounds like a very interesting book and OH! what a sweet cardigan you made for your daughter, beautiful name too, cute as a button, well the buttons are adorable too! thank you for dropping by my blog and following me, I followed you back :)


  26. hello my new French friend!! Im excited to see you over at your place and cant wait to see more of this fabulous garden design!!

    xo em

  27. HI,Thankyou so much for popping on over to see me! Thankyou to for your kind comments on my garden.I love your blog,its beautiful.looking forward to speaking to you soon,julie.xxxxxxx

  28. Omgosh I need that book!
    I'd love to share my garden with enthusiastic people, I guess I do on my blog.

    When I was a child a girl in my road was called Angelique.

    Lovely cardie, bet it will look cute with a floral summer dress!

  29. I sometimes write for the Botanical/horticultural magazine BLOOM, which deal with aspect of botany in design, fashion and trends. You might want to check it out, I think you would love it.

  30. How glad I am that you left a comment on my blog, for now I have found your lovely blog!
    The gardening book sounds wonderful - i must try and find a copy.
    The cardigan you have knitted your daughter is so beautiful - i love the colour and the finishing touches of the buttons and sequins are just perfection.
    Gill xx

  31. The colour of your cardigan is my favourite shade of lime green - yum :) Claire

  32. Hi, thank you for your sweet comment on my blog. I enjoyed it very much.

    What a pretty cardigan you made. Love the colour you chose!

    The books sound interesting. I will have a look and see if I can find them in the library.

    Happy weekend!

    Lieve groet, Madelief x


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