Sunday, 24 March 2013

Daffodil Dance And Sugared Primroses

Clasping the money in my hand I rang the bell of the little stone lodge and observed through ornate wrought-iron bars the sun-drenched seventeenth-century château and gardens slumbering peacefully.  Straining my ears a little I exhaled with pleasure: the sweet sound of bird song was the perfect musical overture for our afternoon plans to wander around the grounds of La Chatonnière Château.  After a few, long and pleasurable moments of anticipation I rang the bell again  and recalling the unhurried pace of the concierge crossing the courtyard two springs ago I decided to amble off to meet her.  My children and husband drawn by the exquisite beauty of our surroundings had already walked through the open entrance gates to explore the gardens which are suffused with the magic of childhood French fairytale authors; Charles Perrault and Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy.  The concierge greeted me with a warm, lazy smile and we chatted gently.  "You only need to pay for two tickets not four", she assured me.  "The flowers are only barely coming out, you see".
And yet, just as the Spring Equinox is the calendar day most certain to raise our spirits, watching a garden unfurling in early spring gives as much pleasure as a summer garden in full swing; wouldn't you agree?  The whole blessed and delirious flower pageant is still to come and I cannot help but agree in this case with Robert Louis Stevenson's wise words: 'it is better to travel in hope than to arrive'.  Spring is dragging her heels this year it would seem but she was very much present at La Chatonnière on this sunny afternoon.

The children were caught up in the magic and unbridled joy of discovering an Italian Renaissance inspired garden with its various levels.  After clambering up a steep woodland path strewn with wild violets they observed the maze in which they had been playing below was in fact leaf-shaped.
The particular spot which drew me back this spring is Le Jardin de la Danse: a tiny corner of paradise I first discovered in the presence of the great garden photographer, Eric Sander, whose book on La Chatonnière will be launched early April.  Remembering my sadness this time last year I did not wish to miss out on the daffodils.  Le Jardin de la Danse is dedicated to a very particular choreography dedicated to daffodils - le bal des narcisses - as it is poetically named here.  It is breathtakingly beautiful.
The blooms are staggeringly wonderful this season.  As my eye jumps from whole flower to stamen, foreground and background, I wonder; are they daffodils or narcissi?  All daffodils are narcissi, but not all narcissi are daffodils.  Technically, they differ according to number of flowers per stem and length of trumpet.  Daffodils are poisonous although I have never heard of anyone dying from a meal of daffodils.  The sap contains sharp crystals of calcium oxalate, an irritant that also seems to bother other flowers, which wilt if they share a vase with daffodils.  My mind wanders to Gaspard our dog who, as a very young puppy last year, diligently dug up our yellow tulip bulbs; foolish creature.  I hope he has the sense to steer clear of our daffodils this spring.

There has been a different kind of dancing taking place these past few nights mostly in the comfort of my armchair!  A shawl has been made with a little simple lacework which I have named Sugared Primroses
A very special friend, Christina, is getting married in Bangor, Wales the weekend after Easter and I know she loves daffodils and the colour yellow almost as much as her future spouse!  I knew which yarn I desired for this shawl; Juno Alice.  I had great difficulties obtaining the perfect shade of buttery yellow Christina loves and ended up contacting directly the enchantress behind Juno Fibre Arts, Asti Grafham.  She was wonderful and promptly shipped out two skeins of her magical Juno Alice in Corn Dolly which is like spun gold and reminds me of the fairytale character, Rumpelstiltskin, who was able to weave gold.  This pattern, Sugared Violets, which I have had my eye on for quite a while now, only required one of those skeins.

And why do I make the connection between knitting and dancing?  The thought struck me during those late evenings of working through three hundred odd stitches that lace knitting is a strange form of choreography: a simple stitch sequence which is repeated a (large) number of times.  As I worked religiously and, dare I say, a little tensely, through these sequences a wonderful thing happened.  I found my fingers and needles began to dance in time with my quietly chanting mind like a couple learning to dance the waltz will repeat the steps under their collective breaths.  It wasn't boring but quite beautiful.  I will be sending this secret gift off this week with a kiss and a box full of good wishes for a very happy wedding and a future full of wonder.  My notes, as usual, can be found on Ravelry.

I will be back soon with some Easter delights to share with you.  Thank you so much for being here.  I wish you all a very happy week.


ps Please forgive me if I have not been leaving many comments recently on your lovely blogs which I have been reading and enjoying.  For some mysterious reason my computer fails to recognise my Google account address and password so I cannot log in to my account.  Let us hope Mickaël finds a solution soon.


  1. Oh what a lovely excursion to the chateau! So pretty. The daffodil field blows me away.

  2. GOOD MORNING my favorite and most beautiful knitting muse!

    HOW I LONG to see the daffodils of spring; we are covered in snow here but it is quickly melting as I can still hear icicles crash to the ground outside my window. But the yellow cups of delight you share here are in a most special place, and this is where I would love to be, as you stroll and take us with you in our most beloved France.

    Precious friend, your musings and sensibilities give me joy. IF you should stop by, just let me "warn" you that there will be some changes to my blog. I have disabled comments, but if you ever feel inclined to do so, you can always send me an email. All is well, I will continue to post, but several good changes are happening and I had to make this decision rather suddenly.

    Je t'embrasse fort, Anita

  3. How beautiful Stephanie, how very grand and French the chateau and gardens are. We love France and this post and photographs certainly have not disappointed, thank you for sharing. I love your little Angelique running through the maze.
    Your friend in Wales will be overwhelmed with her dancing shawl, I love the yarn and colour you have so carefully chosen. She may very well need this shawl with all the snow that seems to have been falling in Wales! Have a great week ahead to Stephanie, here's to some Spring emerging through the chills xox Penny

  4. What a wonderful place and definitely spring accompanied you on your journey, I wish she would show her head here!!
    Your shawl is beautiful and I'm sure will be loved by its recipient!. It's such a pretty shade. :)
    Happy new week,
    V xxx

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful garden, just what I needed to see today! Such a delicate shawl, she will love it! :) x

  6. dearest Stephanie, another lovely post. we are still under snow here so to see the daffodils (and I especially liked the up-close pics) lifted my heavy, winter-weary heart. Beautiful gardens for sure. And then I was delighted to see your shawl completed in the softest of yellows. Very, very pretty, and so too was your description of it being knitted by dancing fingers. Just lovely. The shawl I'm knitting for my friend is nearing completion too. Shall we talk of our KAL soon?

  7. Dear Stephanie, such a pretty post! I like the layout of the garden and all those flowers that are already in bloom.... You captured it all wonderfully. I would have loved walking through the garden with you! Happy to hear that better weather is on our doorstep. It has already arrived with you in the Loire Valley :-)!

    The shawl looks lovely! A beautiful pattern and colour.

    Wishing you a happy new week!

    Madelief x

  8. Le jardin printanier est plus que joli et agreable a voir! Ce serait mieux pouvoir s'y promener un doux apres midi de mars...Vous avez pris de photos superbes! Votre tricot doit etre souple et ideal pour la saison.Jolie couleur pale!Je vous salue et gros bisous! A bientot

  9. Oh those daffodils have really lifted my winter-weary heart. The temperatture here hasn't risen above -0.3 degrees. I do hope it improves for your friend's wedding. The shawl is just beautiful. I just know it will be treasured.
    Love, Sue x

  10. So much beauty! Your posts are always refreshing!

    Thank you for all your words of support some days ago. They are very important to me.

  11. What a lovely place to explore and walk about. It's art with all that has been built and planted there.
    The shawl is beautiful, gentle and your analogy was so clever. You are dead on. Knitting the lace pattern is a type of choreography only we knitters know.
    And oh by can computer problems be so frustrating.

  12. What a beautiful post. That garden is really very lovely.

    I like the way you wrote about knitting lace. Although I fear I would show the same two left feet for that particular skill as I do for dancing.

    Gillian x

  13. I love the delicate perfume of daffodils and they are always such a welcome and cheerful sight after the gloom of winter. I have been known to click along in time to music whilst knitting, unaware that I am doing it and much to the annoyance of anyone in the vicinity trying to listen to the tune.knitting is very rhythmic I find. Have a great week.x

  14. What a wonderful place to visit with your family, it all looks so lovely.

  15. Such gorgeous photos it seems like the gardens are such a magical place. Your shawl is beautiful, the pale yellow so delicate. Hope you have a wonderful week.

  16. Springtime's promise of a lush garden is just as thrilling as a thriving summer one. It will still be quite some time before the daffodils bloom here.

    The shawl will make a treasured gift; I can fully appreciate your friends love of yellow.

    Good luck with your computer issue and have a wonderful week.


  17. Oh Stephanie! What a glorious post, pictures, architecture, handwork, words , all of it a wonderful gift on this perfect spring day.

  18. Stephanie, as I began to read this post and see the early springtime garden photos and all those narcissus blooms, my immediate thought was to cancel all my current plans and fly over to France to see that place with my own eyes and walk slowly through the leaf maze and just think about all the planning and dedication that connected to create this glorious place.

    And then, you show us a peek of your sunny lace knitting and give us a way to find the luscious yarn and the pattern with its gentle repeating pattern.

    Thank you so much. Your posts are alway full of beauty, but this one had a certain rhythm that was so relaxing, and also contained photos that encouraged me to thing beyond the snowy slush that might descend upon New York City tomorrow.


  19. What a refreshing treat to see all of the spring blooms. The daffodils in your photos look very much like some I grow, Narcissus 'Ice Follies'. They bloom just at this time of year and have the same coloring. Could it be the one in your photos?

    Your knitted creation is lovely (as usual) and such a nice present for a bride. Best wishes to your friend on her marriage.


  20. You probably know that here in the UK we are enduring arctic conditions... so joining you in that beautiful garden has lifted my spirits. The formal patterns of the Narcissi is so different from the natural drifts that are usual in an English garden ... but perfect for the chateau.

    The colour of the shawl is beautiful! And I love the analogy with dance. I find the repetition of stitches like a calming, like a rosary prayer or mantra. In fact last night the repeating crochet stitches rocked me to sleep while sitting on the sofa!! And I never fall asleep downstairs, well hardly ever.


  21. How beautiful! I love spotting signs of springtime! :-)

  22. lovely spring fotos like the one with the violets pretty colorful

  23. Dear Stephanie...What a delightful, Springtime journey! Just the adventure required on this snowy, Monday morning. I dare say, there is not even the tiniest green knob peeking up through the soil...yet.
    Such a lovely, gentle shawl...filled with delicate twirls and whirls!
    Wishing you a week filled with much joy!
    Judy xx

  24. Thank you, thank you sweet Stephanie for inviting us along to this beautiful garden. How WONDERFUL to be able to see every little detail unfurl in front of you!
    And I love how your compare knitting with dancing. It's true! The rhythm to the tiny repeated movements DO feel like dancing. :)
    Wishing you and your beautiful family a wonderful week!

  25. You live a such a beautiful spot of the world! Love the photo of your daughter running!! Love the eyelet knitting and hope you get your internet commenting fixed soon.

  26. Thank you so much for sharing your garden visit.....I loved every picture moment. I bought some Juno yarn in London last week---can't wait to knit something with it. (It apparently is still on vacation without me----luggage hasn't made it home yet!) It seemed so buttery soft---your friend will be thrilled with such a thoughtful beautiful gift.

  27. ~Dear Stephanie, thank you ever so much for this wonderful'Visual' trip out....
    A secret garden indeed....LOVELY daffodil's always make my heart smile...~ And I danced with joy at your beautiful gift for your dear friend...We still have Baltic easterly winds here...so your post was that little bit of spring time needed....Take time to dream, lovely YOU! Maria x

  28. What an enchanting garden (and new to me). The daffodils laid out in a formal pattern and the meadow reminiscent of medieval tapestries are delightful - thank you for sharing.

  29. Those gardens are utterly beautiful, and the shawl equally so. And it will be needed if Bangor has as much snow as our corner of N. Wales. And yes, lace knitting, which you know I love best, is perfectly described as a kind of dance. It sounds to me as if you have now learnt to truly read your knitting ... you see the pattern of the lace and can find your way without guidance :)

  30. Thank you, Stephanie for this delicious post. I did not know I was starving for daffodils until I spotted the impossible beauty of them here.
    (In spite of this, your little one is probably my favorite blossom in the garden.)
    And speaking of magic, what your needles conjure in your hands comes very near magical.

  31. dear stephanie,

    my goodness gracious, it's like a fairy tale, reading your posts. this with your beautiful descriptions of the gardens and flowers is poetry. i love the way you write and it makes me wish i could hear you speak too. thank you for sharing your visit with us.
    and i almost teared up at the lovely shade of yellow (my favorite color)and beautiful knitted shawl for your friend. what a treasure. she is going to love it so much! what an incredible thoughtful gift. xxx lori

  32. A most beautiful post Stephanie...Your words are a joy to read and your photographs are magical. Such a pretty shawl too...it will be treasured! (I love the connection between lace knitting and dance...you are so right...it's perfect!)
    Happy Wednesday!
    Susan x

  33. Oh, what a beautiful place! A lovely garden coming to life. Looks like your little one enjoyed it as much as you! Hope you are doing well-- and your pup too! my little dog is finally starting to fill out after the gangly teen phase and looking more like a proper spaniel. Hope you're having a great spring! Enjoy the season!

  34. Liebe Stephanie,
    das ist wieder so ein wunderschöner Post!!! Ein Fest für die Augen und Balsam für die Seele! Der Anfang liest sich wie ein Roman, Du hast so einen schönen poetischen Schreibstil, hast Du schon mal darüber nachgedacht, ein Buch zu schreiben?
    Vielen Dank für diesen herrlichen Spaziergang durch die Gärten von La Chatonnière. Wunderschön, ich musste mir die Fotos immer wieder anschauen. Ach, da blühen schon die Narzissen, davon sind wir hier noch weit entfernt, der Frühling will einfach nicht kommen...
    Ich sehe, Du hast Dich letztendlich doch an das Lace-Stricken gewagt.:-) Ein entzückendes Hochzeitsgeschenk, das Tuch wird Deiner Freundin sicher viel Freude bereiten. Die Verknüpfung zwischen Lace-Stricken und Tanzen gefällt mir.

    Ganz liebe Grüße, Bärbel

  35. Such a beautiful Post Stephanie! Thank you for taking me away on a journey through these amazing gardens with your gorgeous words and photos. My husband has also just read your post after being drawn to your photos as he peered over my shoulder and is equally enthralled :-) And what a perfect Wedding gift and gorgeous choice of colour - your friend will love it. Mel xxx

  36. Dear Stephanie,
    Every "millefeuilles" post is an enchantment. I always come here and enjoy at least three of four times. You heva indeed the amazing talent to lace dance, knitting, gardening and many other treasures.
    The daffodils dance here are quite fascinating. I wish I had visited La Chatonnière too (but i'll remember that I shouldn't miss it next year). And thank you for the very precious quote from Stevenson: 'it is better to travel in hope than to arrive'.
    I've just knitted a dress for myself with similar lace patterns (and now doing the same for Elsa who was a bit envious about it)... maybe I'll make a post about these some day.
    Happy Easter.

    1. Oh yes please, Amélie! The thought of seeing Elsa in a lace knitted dress is making me feel quite thrilled! It would seem you have a long list of talents, my dear!


  37. Hi Stephanie! This looks like a wonderful place to visit with the family. I can't even imagine how many daffodil bulbs must have been planted to achieve such amazing results in the garden. The shawl is lovely too, the yarn is just perfect. Great post, I really enjoyed the pictures.
    Happy Easter!

  38. A heavy wet snow fell throughout the day today - we stay close by the fireplace to gather in its warmth. I thought Spring was nowhere to be found until visiting your soul lifting posting - thank you for sharing the awakening gardens -

  39. hello,
    too top your blog and learn a lot of things ! Good luck later that I would see with wonder! Good week filled with joy that I hope for you a good luck
    voyance par mail


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...