Saturday, 9 June 2012

Parisian Garden Party (And A Spot Of Knitting)

Dear readers,

Today I have the honour of joining Anita's Parisian Party at Castles, Crowns and Cottages although I am a little fashionably late in arriving as it officially started yesterday!

I love Paris.  It must be in my blood.  My mother was born in Paris and told me tales of her grand-parents' appartment overlooking the gardens of Versailles.  I have inherited an uncanny fondness for the smell of the Parisian metro from my aunt who lives with my uncle opposite the Sorbonne and who still continues to catch a whiff of the fetid metro air with relish at the grand age of eighty three.  The years spent in Paris were the happiest of my life and I believe that my decision to write a thesis on seventeenth-century Parisian gardens and theatre aesthetics was based on a need to return to the capital regularly.

Every day on my way to work I would walk through the lime tree lined avenues of the Palais Royal gardens.  The sweet fragrance of those flower-laden trees was intoxicating in spring.  Aren't those linear alleys with their regularly planted trees quintessentially French?
I recall comparing such views to the stage scenery I had seen time and time again at the opera. 
Seventeenth-century drawing, possibly by Jean Berain, for the Prologue to Aricie
In eighteenth-century theatre design gardens were much favoured and often associated with architecture.  The picture below, taken from the Palais Royal galéries, could very well be the backdrop to an opera or ballet.
Look at the regularly positioned columns in the scenery design below:
Le Palais d'Amour in Lully's Pysché performed in 1678

French painters, such as Jean-Honoré Fragonard and Antoine Watteau, depicted garden scenes in which their characters danced, walked, and fell in love.  The latter's Fêtes galantes is a beautiful example. One century later the poet Paul Verlaine wrote a series of poems named Fêtes galantes.  He drew his inspiration from the painter's work, of course, but also the Parisian royal gardens such as Versailles, Marly, and Saint-Cloud.  In several of these poems Verlaine makes use of the tree-lined garden avenues as a place for his characters to play their roles.  The poem below, translated into English, is a perfect example of the theatrical aspect of Parisian public gardens:


As in the age of shepherd king and queen,
Painted and frail amid her nodding bows,
Under the sombre branches and between
The green and mossy garden-ways she goes,
With little mincing airs one keeps to pet
A darling and provoking perroquet.
Her long-trained robe is blue, the fan she holds
With fluent fingers girt with heavy rings,
So vaguely hints of vague erotic things
That her eye smiles, musing among it folds.
- Blonde too, a tiny nose, a rosy mouth,
Artful as that sly patch that makes more sly,
In her divine unconscious pride of youth,
The slightly simpering sparkle of the eye.
Paul Verlaine (1844-1896)
translated by Arthur Symons
This picture is taken from Le Poème Harmonique's website.  Take a peek as their Baroque operas and plays are truly exquisite; completely candlelit!

I have drawn inspiration from garden avenues, rows upon rows of leafy trees, and the colours of Baroque opera.  Who could not?
The rows and alleys here are our neighbouring vineyards in Vouvray as we could not make it to Paris; sorry Anita!  The colours are reminiscent of my favourite opera, Cadmus et Hermione, Jean-Baptise Lully's first opera to be performed in Paris in 1673 and much favoured by Louis XIV.  The DVD of this work is A WORK OF ART!
The pattern I have knitted is Scalene.  It's asymmetrical composition is a perfect definition of the word baroque which derives from the Portuguese word denoting an irregular pearl.
The yarn is Madelinetosh DK in Fragrance and Olivia.
The model is Héloïse, of course, who will be performing on stage tonight a ballet named Promenade à Paris.
Details are on Ravelry.
Thank you so much Anita for inviting me to your Parisian Party. 

A bientôt,



  1. Stephanie, VAUT MIEUX TARD QUE JAMAIS!!!!! Oh my dearest, even IF some of the shots are not of PARIS, this is SO FRENCH and beautiful and I am so happy that you are on board. My heart is melting over the gardens, the history, and your lovely knitting that is so reminiscent of my own mother's handiwork. How I would love to have a little shawl like that; it is ever so French. The beautiful model in the photos shows the purity of your world my dear....this is so much fun. I hope you get a chance to visit the others. Now that you are ON, I would love for others to come to see you. It is possible that visitors came by and did not find your post, but if you go visit people, they will come to you. I want them to see this HOMESPUN post that shows YOUR TALENTS!!!!

    LOVE TO YOU on this most beautiful summer day, Anita

  2. Oh my goodness Miss Stephanie, I know I've said this before but your lovely daughter is the most enchanting young girl I think I've ever seen -- her face is like a painting!

  3. I only just read about the Paris party! I'd better go get ready !!

  4. Me again! I was not finished but lost my comment box! I was saying I love your photos, a bit of knitting on a dramatic sky...very beautiful.

  5. i have been looking forward to your post dear stephanie, knowing that it would be something special and it very much is.
    the avenue of linden trees is a lovely sight as is your lovely handmade shawl wrapped around the shoulders of your beautiful girl in the vineyard. i wish her joy in her performance tonight.
    i love the music of jean-baptise lully and almost added some to my paris post, along with the lovely celine scheen singing michel lambert's 'ombre de mon amant' which i love.
    thank you so much for the link to la poeme harmonique's website, i shall enjoy exploring it.
    this is such a wonderous post, a feast for the eyes and the soul.

    may you have a lovely evening and a beautiful weekend xxx

  6. I absolutely love visiting your blog. Not only is it beautiful and relaxing, but I always feel I come away with some knew knowledge of art or history or gardening or France. It is wonderful!

  7. I enjoy my visits to France when I read your posts, Stephanie, and am reminded of the (limited) time I've spent there.(Now, I'll just dream a bit about your great-grandparents' apartment...)

  8. What an amazing post! It's beautiful AND educational. :-)
    Have a wonderful, wonderful weekend!

  9. Gosh I am enjoying the Parisien Party posts and yours is fab Staphanie. Your daughter is beautiful and I wish her well in her performance this evening.
    I adore Paris and fortunately this love has passed on to my children. Laura is 18 this year and h asked us not to organise a party for her. We offered an alternative: a visit to New York, but she asked for a return visit to Paris. Oh joy, what a weekend she will have!
    I hope you are well and enjoying long, lazy summer days xx

  10. Dear Stephanie,
    You write so beautifully, I've never visited Paris but after reading your words I really want to go!!!
    I love the beautiful shawl you've knitted, the colours are exquisite and Your daughter is the perfect model, she is so graceful and elegent!! I wish her well for her performance.
    Hugs and thankyou for your beautiful posts
    Vicky xxx

  11. Dear Stephanie, you have woven this story so beautifully, the images, words....always so insightful and compelling....and your lovely Heloise....she looks like a prima ballerina....exquisitely lovely! I too planned my post with hidden gardens of Paris as a theme, but my Picasa photo file became infected with a virus and my PC has been in for repairs, not meant to be. I am thrilled to see two posts together in such a short time, so you have spoiled me, N.xo

  12. Hello Stephanie, I have just started following your blog, I have fallen in love with your photographs! Loving you sweet shawl too, gorgeous colours!
    Victoria xx

  13. My goodness this is the third time I've been to Paris in two days! :)
    It is my daughters favourite place and where she and her fiance got engaged on Boxing Day. I myself haven't been to Paris in almost 30 years!! So thank you for taking me along.
    Your knitting is as always so beautiful. :)
    Vivienne x

  14. Oh I just had to come back for a breath of fresh country air my dear. Love it! Anita

  15. Another beautiful creation Stephanie, your needles are earning their place in your basket. Bonne chance to Heloise, although I'm sure her work is done!
    Happy weekend
    Kate x

  16. How truly delightful to visit your Paris post and learn more about you -- I am also a devoted gardener and in fact made a mid-life career switch into horticulture. I lived in France as a girl and can't wait to go back to Paris! I loved reading about your life in France and seeing your pictures! Thank you for visiting my own Paris post,aussi...

  17. Stephanie!!! I JUST SAW YOUR COMMENT! Oh how coincidental that the recital would be Paris-themed, but is it any surprise that Paris and the art that has flowed from there would be subject of a BALLET?? HOW FABULOUS! Oh to think that I was there with your in your thoughts as you watched your beautiful daughter dance. Those were the days when I danced. I remember my mum...she rarely cried if ever in my lifetime. But once she did, when she saw me dance a certain number that was evidently close to her heart.

    Vive la danse, l'amour, LA FRANCE!!!!

    Oh!! Dear Stephanie, while I have you here...may I have permission to use one of your photos of your daughter, on a collage that I am making for a header as a souvenir of our travels? Let me know. I totally understand if you do not wish to allow me to use the photo.

    This has been so much fun my friend! And it is so good to see you. BONNE NUIT! Anita


    I so love the picture with the rose in her hair as she looks out onto the beautiful paysage, with that gorgeous shawl as the forefront image. MERCI. I will use it!

    I do understand about being in a rush and yet wanting to do well. I cannot believe I composed all the travel posts while I was in school grading, finalizing the end of the year while still working in my Etsy shop! But today, I took a fine nap and now I will start to make more items. It makes me so happy to know that I will have more time now to COMPOSE better writing and art.

    Your post is LOVELY and beautifully written, with such genuine love. That is what I was looking for.

    Sprinkles of love and happy dust to you out in France my dear! Anita

  19. Dear Stephanie,

    I loved reading your beautiful story of Paris, your family, and the wonderful gardens. Thanks for sharing.
    Also how beautiful Heloise is modelling the gorgeous shawl ~ wishing her all the best for her Ballet Performance and how proud you must be of her, watching the Promenade a Paris.

    Happy weekend

  20. Stephanie My Dear,So nice to meet you.Lovely joining you in Paris.Oh how much I could learn from you, you being a student of so many interesting topics.I must follow you if I'm not already.Thank you for stopping by to meet Me-Denise

  21. Stephanie I am so loving this journey to Paris with Anita. Your thoughts, images, and the lovely scarf are exquisite!

    Anita's Parisian Party
    Art by Karena

  22. Beautiful post and your scarf is fabulous! It's wonderful to see Paris through the eyes of other bloggers.
    Wishing you a lovely weekend!
    xoxo, B

  23. Another beautiful post. I particularly like the photo taken from the galéries du Palais Royal.

    Verlaine's beauty was the late-19th century ideal, wasn't she? Blonde, tiny nose, rosy mouth. She sounds a bit of a coquette. (I much prefer the elegant beauty of your daughter. Oh to have such a long slender dancer's neck!)

    What a fascinating shawl, with its keyholes. I'd love to see how those are constructed.

    Hope your revised schedule is working out well for you and the family!

  24. Goregeous, gorgeous, gorgeous... and I wish your daughter the very best for her performence.
    I have a little herb book (actually I have many, too many!) and in that book there are beautiful paintings of herb gardens through history. I love it for that and look at those paintings often.
    Much love to you

  25. I've only visited Paris once, I went on a school trip when I was thirteen and we visited Versailles so I can imagine the wonderful view that your grandparent's apartment must have had. What another wonderful creation, I love the colour you've chosen for the shawl. Hope everything went well at last night's performance.

  26. Hi Stephanie - I've been here before but mustn't have followed, off to rectify that in a minute, and it's so nice to be back!!! I love your writing style, and also love Paris!
    beautiful shawl too - must get to grips with knitting once the crochet bug has subsided...fee x

  27. What a glorious post Stephanie, and what fun that I too am writing a post about gardens and knitting today, though not about Paris.

    Paris I adore. I spent a lot of time there as an art student and though that was a long time ago I am still enchanted by the city, and most especially the gardens and the architecture.

    Gorgeous shawl and such a lovely model you have there :D

  28. thanks for the petite trip to paris :)
    beautiful scarf-love the yarn!

  29. I truely must visit Paris when I am on my travels, it is beautiful through your lense and words. Love your shawl and your daughter does it justice, did you go to watch her performance??
    xx Sandi

  30. Hello:
    What appeals to us particularly in this post, which is full of such goodly things, not least your wonderful images, is the connections which you make between the architecture of this most magical of cities and the set designs for the theatre. How we should now love to talk about this with a dear friend, sadly now dead, whose work was in the design of sets for both Covent Garden and Glyndebourne.

    And that strange fetid smell of which you write may also, on occasion, linger in the air of our city of Budapest.

  31. Dearest Stephanie, I enjoyed your lovely post and the wonderful history and art you shared of Paris, so beautifully written my friend! Thank you so much for sharing! The shawl you knitted is beautiful and your daughter is gorgeous! She looks like a ballerina, very graceful and elegant! I love the colors you used in the shawl and the location of the photo shoot. Such beauty to behold. I hope your Sunday and upcoming week will be beautiful! Much love, Paula xo

  32. What a beautiful post! I've enjoyed my visit on our tour of Paris!!!

    ~ Violet

  33. Such grace in your work. A lovely daughter and beautiful textiles. I see the love of rows in your work and the artwork you chose. A fine collection to be sure... thanks to ANita for introducing us all to one another with Paris as an anchor.

  34. oh my...
    your post...
    i love it!
    i shall be
    following you
    too...its so
    happy happy

  35. visiting
    baroque operas..
    thank thank you!

  36. Candlelit Baroque opera sounds like an amazing experience! Your shawl is just beautiful, the two colors really look lovely together.
    Love the pictures of the trees and columns too, the entire post was well done!
    Take care

  37. Another lovelly post -- we have lime trees here in Minnesota, but we call them linden or basswood. Isn't the fragrance heavenly? I love whaling down a busy city street and getting a big drift of that fragrance.

  38. Oh how I would love to feel that shawl against my skin. It looks so soft and comforting and the colours divine! Héloïse looks so beautiful wearing it.
    I love the old drawings describing the gardens. It makes me want to take up pen and wash again. I'm not sure if I'd have the patience to keep to the correct perspective though! ;)
    You're right about the lines of trees. Although we have them here in the UK on occasion, I always remember the roads lined with them in northern France when we visited a few years ago.
    Jess xx

  39. Hi Stephanie
    I feel awful and must apologise but I am yet to post your give away parcel, unfortunately my husband's mental health deteriorated over the weekend and it's been very traumatic but I promised to let you know when I have managed to send it. I hope to by the end of the week xox Thank you for your patience xxx Penelope

  40. Hello lovely Stephanie, thank you for stopping by and leaving a warm greeting at the "shop." Loved reading your very informative French post. I like to dig for the meaning of words and places so this was a fun Monday stroll in Anita's Parisian tour.
    Your knitting is absolutely beautiful, and your page is abundant in serenity. I love it.
    Much love,

  41. Stephanie, your love for Paris, the theatre and all things Baroque is truly evident in this enchanting post! I have been to Paris a couple of times and fell under the spell of its wonderful architecture and I love your evcation of Paris and Versailles in your grandparents time.

    Oh yes, Heloise has the grace and beauty of a true ballerina, I hope it all went well for her.


  42. What a gorgeous blog you have, Stephanie! It is thrilling that our dear Anita has brought together so many kindred spirits.
    You photos are stunning, and I absolutely believe that some of your happiest days were spent in Paris...I will tell you, I ADORE the smell of le metro...I thought everyone did?! ;))
    Such a joy to meet you, and I thank you so much for leaving a very kind message chez moi. I, too, am fascinated with gypsy caravans...love gypsy music. Wouldn't it be great just to have one in the back yard as a "room of one's own?"
    Merci et bonne journee, chere Stephanie...I am following...
    - Irina

  43. your posts are always a work of art---thank you so much for sharing. I can't believe I waited 62 years to visit Paris....but I immediately fell in love. I will be back.
    Beautiful shawl in a beautiful setting.

  44. Hi Stephanie, your blog is truly beautiful! The scenery, planting, architecture, and of course the lovely knitting. I've just added that pattern to my to do list, and I love the colours you've chosen. Thanks for leaving a comment - I'm so glad I've found your blog!
    Jane x

  45. how wonderful...a parisian party...
    Héloïse is a most beautiful model and the shawl is just so pretty.
    Do you know i have never been to Paris but i really want to go, especailly after this wonderful post.
    love jooles x

  46. I'm late too, but so nice to see your blog, post for Paris. Please come by, I have a post on Monday. Merci, Mary

  47. PS I just joined your followers. It's nice to see a beautiful blog.

  48. Perhaps your most beautiful post yet?
    toujours Paris ....

    Barbara x

  49. Hello Stephanie...Such a beautiful and inspirational post as always and perfect for Anita's Parisian party. Héloïse is the perfect model for your pretty shawl...I hope the performance went well too!
    Susan x
    P.S I've realised I'm always at the end of this long line because I save your posts to enjoy in a quiet moment Stephanie..love them!

  50. What a magical post....I am sooo late for the party! So glad I was able to pop by...hugs to you. xox

  51. Beautiful photos! What a gorgeous country you live in :-)

    Love the shawl and it's being beautifully modeled by your pretty daughter, she certainly has the air of a ballet dancer about her with her poise!

    Have a lovely week,
    love Lori xxx

  52. Dear Stephanie,

    What a dreamy shawl (and I adore the one you made for your mother, too); and beautiful girl! Thank you for sharing a part of your beautiful world with us.



  53. France is just stunning, I dream to visit someday. Your daughter is so lovely, she is a perfect model for your beautiful shawl. I hope the performance went well! xox

  54. Simply lovely.

    I'm very taken with the lime trees though I suspect that I might have to pay for it with itchy eyes and wheezy breath. Better perhaps to admire from afar and try to conjure up the scent.

  55. Oh Stephanie, I just love to read your blog, you take me off to a different world, where I can dream!

    Oh to be in Paris!

    Hope you have a lovely week.
    Fleur xx

  56. Another lovely post, merci beaucoup. For myself, I was a Luxembourg child, complete with a little coat with a velvet collar and a disreputable friend called Jean-Louis who taught me to eat stones, and you took me right back to the 6eme and the mid-1960s... Lovely (well, except for remembering the stones part).

    And the shawl is very lovely too!

  57. Oh how I love this post ma chère. Merci beaucoup pour m'avoir permis de me servir d'une photo de ta fille!

    You are such a dear heart. I so love to come here, I love to read your words and to find a comment from you is always so special. How I adore you all....and it was a splendid party and I shall NEVER forget the electricity of creativity and enthusiasm from all of YOU!

    Now my dear, let us carry on and create and change our world....Bisous, Anita

  58. Everything about your posts is beautiful: Your knitting, the photos, the pictures you create in my mind with the stories you tell.

  59. What a beautiful post. A friend has given me some wool she has spun and died herself which is very close to the colour of your shawl. I have been musing about what to do with is as it is so very beautiful. I am off to Ravelry to see if I have enough to do this lovely asymmetric piece. You have a stunning model there too!

  60. dear stephanie, your posts are meant to be savored, they are completely beautiful. the places you show, the things i learn, i'm grateful for it all. thank you for sharing here. gorgeous knitting and girl, your daughter?

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