Monday, 11 March 2013

'Tis The Season To Be Springlike

 Dear readers,
Few things give me as much pleasure as the simple flowers of early spring: white blossom (cherry plum (Prunus cerasifera) in this case - am I right? - which is easily confused with sloe (Prunus spinosa) but generally flowers a month earlier than the latter) bursting forth on bare wood against a grey sky which holds the promise of blue. March has arrived with its temperamental weather and one gust of cruel wind will send these dainty petals into the air like a whirl of snowflakes. For the time being, however, these ephemeral flowers will remain clenched on twigs clothed with the rich bloom of age-old lichen overlooking the slow-moving waters of the river Loire.

 This year I wanted to capture those shining white flowers with their golden stamens and keep them close for a long while.  Nothing soothes my winter-weary heart as much as a piece of beautiful frivolity or whimsy and so I purchased this head wreath for Angélique...just for fun!  It's girly, holds the promise of spring, and sits so prettily on her head of loose curls.
If you too are easily seduced by aesthetic frivolity take a peek at the sweet shop Sparkle & Posy.  I think there may be the very same wreath gracing those alluring shop shelves!
 After the Mad March Hare and Easter Rabbit flurry I am planning to start a new series of creations in April. Of course I am keeping it secret for now but the work above by the artist Maurice Prendergast of The Tuileries Gardens, painted in 1895, will give you some sort of clue! 

 My sweet son Tristan has been learning the art of patience.  Finally for his ninth birthday in February I promised to make him his first pullover and asked him to choose both the pattern and the colourway.  He was so thrilled that he performed a happy dance on the spot!  Dear child.

He opted for a simple knit called Tea With Jam And Bread which I had first caught sight of on Itty Bitty's inspirational knitting blog back in October and which lends itself to playing with colours a little.  Tristan's choice of Duck Egg blue, yellow, and cream sing out Tristan to me and, dare I say, spring too.  Tempted though I was for a short while to name this pullover 'Lego' - don't those stripes remind you of Lego blocks piled up high? - my son has never liked Lego.  I could have called it 'Cars With Music And Art' - his three favourite things but he urged me instead to find a spring name for his first pullover.  We came up with 'Blue Sky, Clouds, and Daffodils'.  My Ravelry notes can be found here.
Like most knitters I have a list as long as my arm of patterns I would dearly like to try my hand at.  As a contrast to Tristan's straightforward sweater my roving knitter's eye caught sight of the delightful picture below of a slightly more complex knit - 'Lobelia'.  Generally speaking I rarely buy magazines.  I do, however, think Pom Pom Quarterly, a small-scale, homegrown publication launched in autumn last year, deserves a shout.  It is fairly pricey - you can see how much it costs on the front cover pictured below - but it boasts a handful of very lovely knitting and crochet patterns enhanced by a modern aesthetic and appealing writing.  The fourth edition, entitled Verdant Stitcher, celebrates spring both in colour and subject matter.  If you too have leafed through or bought Pom Pom I would be curious to read about your impression.
 Inspiration has also been found in Ashley English's recipe book: A Year Of Pies.  Héloïse said to me today how each seasonal recipe looks more delectable than the last.  She's absolutely right and however much I have been seduced by winter's feasts my fingers are itching to turn the page and move on to spring's recipes.
 The sweet tart pictured above has been inspired by Ashley English's Maple Orange Walnut Pie but I played around with the ingredients today and turned it into a Maple Syrup, Lemon Almond Tart instead. It reminds me of the delicious treacle tarts I used to eat as a child on sundays both in taste and texture with a slightly crunchy almond topping.
Heaven on a plate.
Thank you so much for stopping by!  I wish you all a beautiful and inspiring week.  Spring is on its way!
A bientôt,


  1. Pretty blossoms :)
    Your son's jumper is lovely too :)

  2. Il est super dans ces couleurs ce tea with jam ! Et oui le printemps arrive...doucement ...

  3. Why does Mr Wind always know when blossoms bloom. They are so beautiful. Enjoy them while you can.

  4. Tres joli post, il y en a tout! Des amandiers fleuris,des peintures aimees, tes petits mignons portant les tricots de maman et pour finir un morceau de tarte aux pommes, mon gateau prefere dans toutes ses versions.Oh, Stephanie, qu'est-ce qu'on pourrait encore y attendre ?
    Bonne journee !

  5. What a beautiful opening paragraph Stephanie, a wonderful description of blossom.
    Such pretty colours in the painting, I can't wait to see the hares. :)
    What a handsome boy Tristan looks in his new sweater, do you know I received a beautiful scarf from my children yesterday for Mother's Day in those very same colours!
    Wishing you a lovely new week, we have sunshine this morning but with a biting wind,
    V xxx

  6. love the pullover so much!!!
    xxx Ale

  7. Stephanie, your children are so gorgeous, I love the new sweater on your son. He still has such a lovely look of innocence.
    hugs to you,

  8. i always love a happy dance for my efforts! the pullover turned out so nice,i can see why you got one :)

    i have seen glimpses of pompom online an think the pages always look so pretty but i haven't found it in stores here in the u.s...

    can't wait to see what you're working on for april~

    1. Hello lovely Andrea! I think about you EVERY time I use my yellow rose purse! I purchased my Pom Pom from Etsy in case you are tempted.

      Have a great week.


  9. What a breath of spring this post is! And so much to admire ... Tristan's sweater, that tart, and Angelique's pretty wreath.

    Here's hoping it really is all blue skies, white clouds daffodils and pink blossom from now on.

  10. What a wonderful post, full of the promise of springtime! We reached 20 degrees here on Wednesday - it was a very welcome surprise! But it's back to -2 today!!!
    I love the head wreath - how pretty and whi,sical! :-)

  11. Oh Stephanie,

    What can I say but that Tristan and Angélique look beautiful in these lush and happy colors of le printemps! BRAVO! Your sweater came out just glorious! And the little tiara/headband is fit for a princess of any age!

    So good to see your world in mine. Much love, Anita

  12. Thank you for the reminder that spring is on its way ... we begin to feel a bit desperate about this time of year in Wisconsin. Snow and rain and more snow and a slushy grey-and-brown world start to pall. I long for the days of wild plum blossom. :)

    What a very lovely sweater for Tristan - I really like those pockets - and how wonderful to have a son who not only wants you to knit for him but enters seriously into the business of naming the project! He looks so sweet with his little sister.

    Enjoy your lovely weeks of blossom, and I hope the March winds do not whirl them away too quickly. :)

  13. Stephanie, you've completely convinced me that spring cannot be far away. Whether on a branch or gracing a little tiara, the blossoms send delicately lovely seasonal messages.

    I do like that Prendergast painting and know you'll be inspired to create some amazing new delights.

    Of course, I also must say what lovely children you have, and that your knitting suits them perfectly. The color choices are wonderful. Well done, Tristan!

    I'd not previously known of the Pom Pom magazine, and thank you for the introduction.


  14. Hi Stephanie! Just caught up with your last few posts, and I am in awe of your knitting! You always pick out the most lovely yarn. The blossoms on my pear tree are in full bloom right now too, and each little breeze brings a shower of petals into the pool. Ahhhh Spring!

  15. Oh, what a happy spring-like post! It's snowing here today and an icy wind blows and I am more desperate for spring than ever. Tristan's jumper is a triumph - what a handsome boy.

    Gillian x

  16. Hey Stepanie, I bet winter didn't come down all the way to where you live in France...??? It has been snowing here all last night and all day. The weatherforecaster told us the snow would come from Holland, pass over Belgium, then just touch the North of France and then come back to Flanders where it would just hang, and it does.
    I do love the sweater you knitted. It's been so long ago I knitted sweaters fort the kids. They're too old now to want to wear sweaters mom knitted but I remember how thrilled they were with the sweaters I knitted when they were still little. Your son reminds me a bit of our oldest, he's also into everything that is art and music very much. He was second in a poetry competition recently and is thrilled to be invited to 'poetry bootcamp'. There are three themes to choose from and one theme is 'music', just his thing. But.... he did like lego ;-) especially everything that had to do with Bionicle; don't think that exists still now.

    The Pompom book looks very interesting, hadn't seen or heard of it.
    And your pie..... Yum! Looks sooooo delicious!!!!

    Have a lovely week,

  17. What lovely children you have and so happy you must have been when your son was delighted with his new jumper. :) That dessert loks too scrummy for words, I shall crave that today!xx

  18. ok your kids are just crazy beautiful!!! all of them!!! I'm featuring a bunny on my Velveteen Rabbit post that totally reminds me of you :

    That pie!!!! that looks amazing! I like how much filling there is. When I made treacle tart a couple of months ago, it was fantastic, but there wasn't a tremendous amount of filling. I think I need to go find that Pie cookbook!!


  19. Stephanie, it's been three steps backwards into winter again here today with an icy wind that chills you to your bones and snow flurries.

    I'm a total sucker for aesthetic frivolity - I bet your daughter looks beautiful in her tiara, like a flower fairy.

    As for the jumper. It's gorgeous, I love it. What a perfect colour combination and, yes, I know exactly what you mean about it reminding you of lego!

    Heather x

  20. What beautiful Spring photos. It is snowing here in Dublin at the moment but we are to be back to Spring like weather by the weekend.

    Love your Sons jumper, so cheerful.

    Have a good week.

  21. It's lovely that Tristan appreciates your knitting skills and is so excited about his new pullover. I think the colours in your first photo of the blossoms would look well together too.

    My current project is a simple pullover in one colour. I need to learn to knit more quickly and branch out with colourways.

    Have a lovely week, Stephanie.


  22. What a nice birthday treat (51 today) for me to see the head wreath, that I made, featured on your beautiful blog! Thank you so much, and I'm so happy to hear that it is being enjoyed!

    1. Oh Happy Birthday dear Sparkle & Posy Fairy! I love the wreath you made and I think I'll be slipping it into a few more pictures this season.

      Thank you for popping over to visit.


  23. Dear Stephanie,

    Beautiful photographs of Tristan and Angelique. They both look very sweet in their home made sweater and cardigan! Wish I had your knitting skills!

    It sounds as if the weather in the Loire Valley is the same as in Holland. It's terrible cold over here. Hope the buds on the trees and plants in my garden will survive. Your white blossoms look very pretty. Wish you could send me a part of that delicious looking pie ;-)!

    Happy new week!

    Madelief x

  24. Your kids are adorable Stephanie :0) Your post make me inspired and feel hungry, so to leave you a comment I grab some snacks :0)
    This wreath looks amazing and your sweater and cardigan are really sweet and beautiful, and truly delightful bloom you've got there. Here in Moscow we have -9 dgr C and a lot of snow.
    Lot of love

  25. Beautiful job on the pullover Stephanie! It looks so gorgeous on him and I love the way Angelique is looking up at her big brother like that - very sweet :-D

    I love the look of the Lobelia and since I'm daunted by the enormity of doing an adult sized sweater I like the length of it.

    Enjoy your early Spring.

    Mel x

  26. Stephanie, I have been having a moan about the snow that arrived today. I really am fed up with Winter and Mother Nature tricked us by sneakily having a few daffodils blossom and then Winter told Spring he was not ready to leave!
    Love Tristan's jumper, he certainly has an eye for colour. Love the idea of Angelique's bouncy curls bobbing about that pretty blossom headband. I hope its onwards and upwards for Spring blooms coming to the fair isle soon. Looking forward to your up and coming April project, take gentle care and thanks for the pompom mag recommendation xox P

  27. Dear Stephanie, it is always a pleasure to call in on YOU...Many years ago I used to work in wedding arranging and those beautiful tiara's made with spring blossoms are just so beautiful....They brought back the memory. Alas I can't knit, but I do admire those with such patience that can create like you. Your children are so sweet...Enjoy them as before you it they will have grown and flown, my friend..Thanks for sharing your early spring with us and for always leaving the kindest words...~ Leaving YOU with a smile :) Maria x

  28. ~ Stephanie I have just been over to 'Sparkle and Posy' and it is so enchanting...I am ever so lucky to work in a beautiful vintage shop, where we have many brides to be that ask for some thing 'Different' for their special days....I will be recommending this beautiful website...Thank you for sharing!

  29. Good morning Stephanie...Such a beautiful post on this very chilly morning with biting March winds...I think we shall have to wait a little longer for spring here!
    Oh my, how pretty is Angélique's fairy wreath?....Completely magical! I love the photograph of her with Tristan and he looks fab in his lovely new sweater. A perfect choice and such lovely colours too!
    Beautiful painting by Maurice Prendergast...I can't wait to see your new creations!
    Happy Tuesday Madame Millefeuilles,
    Susan x
    P.S Could you save me a piece of your delicious tart please?

  30. Thank you for commenting on my book blog...I had to come over and return the favour. I love your son's jumper, it reminds me of one I knitted myself in the late seventies... ah those were the days when I could wear horizontal stripes! And in your previous post, both lemon curd the jumper and the little model, are delightful.

  31. I love your sons jumper, very stylish! Very sweet flowers too, I'm looking forward to seeing more of them in our gardens! :) x

  32. I'm in love with those shining white flowers. Yesterday we were in the Loire valley too, visiting my mother ... and these snow tree were blooming everywhere. Just magical!
    Your son (how beautiful a boy he is) is absolutely charming wearing his "Blue Sky, Clouds, and Daffodils". I love the colours he chose.
    Winter cakes are still welcome here. Back from the Loire valley, we've had snowstorms all day!

  33. Your son's pullover is terrific. I love the springy colors and the way his sister is looking up at him in the photo.

    Moss and lichens are the best shades of spring green; are they not? Your first photos bring spring a little closer to me. We are not fortunate to have any budded flowers yet-- but soon!

    I can hardly wait to see what creativity you have in the works.

    Enjoy the beginnings of spring, dear friend.


  34. what a lovely sweater, it looks perfect on your handsome son stephanie! well done on choosing such beautiful colors and name for it. i have had pom pom in my etsy cart, must have been waiting for a review like yours! thank you for always inspiring!

    xox lori

  35. Always so beautiful and creative! With every photograph. With every word. I oooo and awwww. Just lovely, Stephanie!
    Happy Spring,

  36. That's such a wonderful sweater! So classic and it looks perfect on your son. Thanks for sharing all of your flower photos. I especially appreciate them because I'm stuck inside these days!

  37. what an absolutely beautiful blog!!! you bet i've just "followed" you :) and i see you are on ravelry, so i'll do my little search from here.. haha. beautiful job on the sweater for your son. he looks beyond thrilled! i haven't purchased pom pom.... yet... but it looks amazing. i actually have been eying the sweater on the front cover for a while. perfect for spring, i think. you truely lead a beautiful life! love your pictures! i can almost smell the flowers from here! xoxo

  38. The most amazing pictures of plum blossom, and your knit works are just heaven.
    so much gorgeousness here!

  39. Oh those two precious children! And the colors in the sweaters are JUST SO SPRING-LIKE!

    My dear and wonderful Stephanie, THANK YOU for coming to visit my post and for your lovingkindness! I so look forward to the gesture of sweet friendship that you have planned. May the post behave! BLESS YOUR HEART! Hugs and hopes for real spring weather in your jardin! Anita

  40. The more intelligent kind of blogger at last; a heartfelt thank you. Why are they so rare on the ground? Thank you for sharing with us what interests you have and what intrigues and delights you. Women ARE meant to be intelligent aren't they? I'm not sure where they all are. They seem to have mostly lapsed into childish speaking modes and be so shallow as to be pointless. Pretty pictures excepted - a message to bloggers - can you please do better and write better or just don't? I don't mean pseudo intelligent blogs either, I am tired of the relentless middle class middlebrow candy floss who think they are wise and clever yet are unable to judge such things but judge others for their spelling mistakes or other petty errors (because that is the most important thing in life isn't it, not the poverty or wars or politics of our age). They form little bloggy cliques that are hard to find a way out of. Please people have some opinions and bring them to the party, please. Please inform, elucidate and offend me (just because I am offended doesn't mean I am right). Please just have some personality of your own and stop following the leader.

    Thank you for providing a blog of some interest and integrity. You wear your learning solidly and not loosely (not something that you discard and take off). It is you through and through. Puts me to shame as I am not like that. I am however interested in many things and am thankful when people share them with me. A thinking person with thoughts and perspectives is such a rare thing to read on a blog. In fact I was tired of reading them, until I thought of you and came for a visit here. I enjoyed your knitting very much,I always love your knitting. Also the painting is lovely (I shall toddle off to find some more, as I really like it a lot) but I haven't got a clue from it what you will be creating next. I look forward to finding out.

    Thank you for your blog. Thank you for providing thoughtful content for it. I enjoy your perspective on life. People make a mistake if they think to be bland and inoffensive is to be liked, it is to be bored. I don't have to agree with people to like them at all. But the equivalent of magnolia paint is just so dull and actually the most offensive thing in the world is to be that. (Obviously others will think that about me too. It is inevitable regardless, but people can try.) If you are like that then please bloggers keep it to yourself. I like to be challenged and given some food for thought and for the soul. Candyfloss is good for neither. So much banality and lack of originality going on right now.

    1. I may be able to write about facts and aesthetics but I find myself to be pitifully lacking in words to express the entangled, beautiful emotions I feel when faced with such generous words as the ones you have written here today. Please accept my deep-seated gratitude for taking the time and effort - writing ALWAYS takes time and effort - to share your thoughts with me.

      Warmest wishes to you whereever you are from France.


  41. Hello Stephanie, you have filled me with such a sense of hope, that Spring will soon be here. Love the photo of Angelique looking adoringly at her brother in his new finery. Was thinking of you today and now I am off to reply properly to your email.x

  42. I am happy that it is spring somewhere! What sweet photos, and lovely (um manly) sweater.

  43. Your children are so beautiful. His pullover is wonderful. I like how you chose light colors for spring.


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