Sunday, 6 October 2013

Tchaikovsky And A Teacup

Dear readers,

I blame Tchaikovsky for my obssession with themes and images.  My first trip to London to see The Nutcracker took place when I was seven, thanks to Robert Mayer's Concerts For Schoolchildren.  You will understand that, as a child, half the fun with such an outing was the idea of taking a coach with a gaggle of school friends, and a scumptious picnic. The concert may even have taken second place in my list of fun things that day.  But that ballet, well, suffice to say it marked me for life.  I was entranced by the notion one could create music, a choreography, and a costume to portray such things as hot chocolate, tea, or coffee and the scenery for Act IV, The Land Of Sweets conquered my imagination completely.  In other words, I discovered that a theme, such as drinks or sweets in this case, could incite a spectacular variety of artistic créations. 

Of course, if I am to lay blame on Tchaikovsky, Hoffmann should bear his share of responsibility too; the composer's libretto being a sweetened version of the German author's dark and provocative tale written in 1816.  A while back I explained why the main message behind Hoffmann's story struck a chord with me, namely the importance to free children's imaginations so that they may fulfill their desires.  To paraphrase Hoffmann, the most wonderful things may be seen if one has the right eyes.

'Though Marie was not allowed to talk about her adventures, the images of that wondrous fairyland hovered around her in sweetly rushing billows and gracious, charming sounds.  She looked at everything once more, focusing sharply.  And so, in lieu of playing as usual, she sat there, quiet and rigid and deeply self-absorbed.  That is why everyone scolded her for being a little "dreamer".'
extract from E.T.A. Hoffmann, Nutcracker and Mouse King (Penquin Classics, London, 2007) p.59.

And so, as an adult more than ever perhaps, I understand the vital importance of delighting in one's imagination and cultivating a new mode of perception similar to Marie's, Hoffmann's main character, acquired from her time spent in  the dazzling Kingdom Of Dolls.
I am sure you will agree that it doesn't take much to spark one's creativity.  I found this teacup - made in Germany between 1949 and 1955 by Johann Seltmann Vohenstrauss -  and had it shipped over from Amsterdam by two charming ladies who share a common passion for brocante finds.  Juxtaposing this gold and raspberry cup against my French great-grandmother's hand-embroidered placemat triggered faint memories of a theatrical backdrop design - from the Nutcracker perhaps? - and I found myself dreaming of a land full of sweets again!

My children have been clamouring for fudge these days and, when I have a treasured tin of Golden Syrup in my kitchen cupboards - I sadly do not right now as it is devilishly hard to find in France - I always turn to this recipe.  I was intrigued to find, incidentally, that fudge is a relatively modern confection, at least under that name. The Oxford English Dictionary has its first example from as late as 1896, a mere four years after the premiere of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker ballet in St Petersburg!

And from the pretty colours of that vintage teacup this sweet shrug was born thanks to another delightful knitting pattern, Ice cream Sundae, by Dani Sunshine.  I'm in good company too: Amanda from SouleMama cast off a blue version of the same pattern a few days before.

Ice cream Sundae is a treat.  The scalloped neckline, a few short rows, and the edging which requires picking up stitches around the main body of the knitting make for a fun and quick knit.  This pattern requires one skein only of DK yarn (200 metres) with a little extra for the contrasting colour.  Angélique wanted to slip it on immediately although her face in some of these pictures belies her enthusiasm a little!

My Ravelry notes may be found here.

And here is her tunic - yes, yes, it was mild enough here in Touraine for her to wear it today - made from the Liberty fabric, Scrumptious, which was launched for their Autumn and Winter 2013 collection.  Perhaps I should call it 'Nutcracker'?  There are a myriad of vintage and modern sweets on this fabric which have absorbed my children's attention for a long while.  Those sweets have triggered many memories and anecdotes from my part and, I can tell you, there are a few fudges hiding in that forest of teeth-rotting treats!

And finally, where would I be without a matching hare wearing a fudge-coloured sweater?

Enough said, I think! 
I do hope I will be able to find the time over the next few weeks to put my thoughts down here on a fairly regular basis.  I am busy honouring customer orders for a hoard of hares and a few mice too.  I have images, themes, and colours flitting through my head as I sleep as you can imagine.  Thank you Tchaikovsky!
I wish you all a very happy weekend and a week spiced up with dreams and creatvity.
A bientôt,

ps The roses in my header picture are reminiscent of the many second blooming roses gracing old stone walls and towering gateways in our village.  They also reveal that I am burying my head in the sand in regards to autumn's arrival!


  1. Good morning Stephanie... Oh these are beautiful... Love this a china cup... Pretty top also the quarter sleeves knitted cardigan... Girl is very pretty young lady. U are very natural talent :) big hugs lulu xxxx

  2. dreamy post, I say!!!!!
    xxxxx Ale

  3. What a delightful post, growing up in a sweet shop, I have memories of rows of glass jars full of the most delicious colours and flavours! Your daughter looks wonderful, yes the Nutcracker is indeed an enchantment.....captures the hearts of everyone who watches it! Lovely little makes! :) x

  4. It's early morning here Stephanie and I'm craving a piece of your fudge! Look delicious indeed and just as sweet at your beautiful girl with her sweetie tunic and ice cream sundae. Your new hare is perfectly matched and just as tooth achingly sweet!
    I love Tchaikovsky, always have and always will. Hopefully Alice will grow to love classical music as I do, she often tells me its depressing and turns the radio over...oh dear, for the love of a teenager :o) Enjoy the rest of your warm days xox Penny

  5. What a beautiful post filled with delightful images and interesting thoughts.

  6. I am craving fudge now ... I'm not sure whether to thank you for linking to the recipe or scold you ;)

    A post full of gorgeousness as always lovely lady :D

  7. everything is so sweet-no pun intended : )
    love the raspberry colors!!

  8. And I HAVE CHOPIN and DEBUSSY to blame for my childhood fantasy to dance the ballet, and for my adulthood calling to write poetry about my childhood experience!

    BONJOUR MA BELLE! Whenever I come here, I suddenly lose my ability to find new words to express how YOU make me feel. I do not want to use trite vocabulary, but all I can say is that your colorful world of creations speaks to my inner child. Everything I see that you make, I WANT. I want that rabbit, I want a little sweater just like your Angélique's, and you are an artist/angel. Stephanie, thank you for waving your wand of imagination and making it real. Thank you for this luscious post that spills over in sensory pleasures from the sweetness of FUDGE to the hues of the shifting seasons. MILLE BISOUS, Anita

  9. Dear Stephanie - how easily this could be just another needlework blog, but no, not with the wonderful tales you weave - it takes on a little bit of magic for all who visit.
    Mademoiselle Bonbon is my favourite to date - such a delectable shade of raspberry and she even has licorice allsorts embroidered on her tiny ankles.
    The Liberty fabric is charming, and looks so sweet on your pretty daughter.
    I have postponed Autumn too, and at the moment she is still nowhere to be seen.

  10. I adore the little shrug----and found an adult sized one very similar that is on my must-knit list!!! (some of us just can't grow up!!!)

    what a delightful use of that beautiful teacup, too.....love the candy-theme!!!

  11. Sweet, sweet girl. I can't knit, but I can admire!

  12. What a delightful post Stephanie! Yummies, lovely knits, cherished memories, and new "imaginaries" abound!
    Sending warm and kind hugs your way ...
    Judy xo

  13. Vos creations sont tellement particulieres et parfaites en detail.Votre point de vue esthetique infallible.Votre petit tresor, un ange!

  14. dearest Stephanie, how are you? you have packed so much beauty into one post. love.it.all. C

  15. Dear Stephanie,

    Beautiful sweet post you have shared and love how you woven the magic of the nutcracker ballet into your post. Angelique is so precious and looks beautiful in her liberty print and little hand knitted shrug.
    Also such a gorgeous hare and delicious fudge.
    Wishing you a happy week with continued warm weather

  16. Oh Stephanie, la photo numero 3 est magnifique! Un plaisir toujours de venir voir ce qui se passe dans votre petit coin (et croyez moi, Golden Syrup est difficile a trouver ici aussi - Cote Pacifique NO - aussi j'indulge quelques fois a commander sur l'internet).
    Bon Dimanche,

  17. Oh your little one is gorgeous! Her top's too cute and that cardi knit - fabulous. I wanna come live with you. I love the tea cup. I want to start a collection. I love how you call fudge Golden Syrup.

  18. Stephanie, your daughter is just darling, she is so full of life! I love the sweater you made for her, perfect colors and very interesting shape. And I LOVE you latest Hare, so perfect and fun. You are so talented my friend,
    Hugs to you,

  19. oh my goodness stephanie everything about this post is completely charming (and beautiful!) your cross stitch roses are SO pretty, i think it's okay they are here for autumn, it's always a good time for roses right?

    your knit sweater is so darling, just beautifully made and on your precious girl, really picture perfect. she is so sweet i want to hug her! love her tunic too, that fabric does look child friendly. love your bunny, i'm sure she's off to a good home, just like all the others. i hope your music also inspires sweet dreams.
    xxxxxxxxxxx lori

    p.s. mail should be there any day, it was sent on sept 11. crossing fingers here :)

  20. Hello Stephanie
    I adore this post and reading of your memories of seeing The Nutcracker ballet as a little girl.
    At that age a big part of an event are the peripheral things such as the food and travelling together on the bus with friends.
    I saw Nutcracker earlier this year performed by the Moscow Ballet Company and I would love to take my little granddaughters to see it one day.
    They live in France too and learn ballet at the conservatoir in the small city near their village.
    I spent six weeks with them in June/July so I enjoyed seeing their ballet spectacle at the end of term - I was very proud.

    Stephanie how lovely to hear you talk of fudge - for years I have carried a tin of Golden Syrup from New Zealand in my suitcase! My daughter can now buy it at Carrefour (it's in a green tin and from the UK). I made Russian fudge when I was there too and it disappeared in a flash – your recipe had some good advice to keep it in a locked pantry!

    Love the raspberry teacup – it will become a precious heirloom in years to come.
    The pretty shrug echoing the tones from the cup is a very pretty design and I love the liberty print with the sweets!
    You just had to make a hare with the same outfit – she looks gorgeous especially the sweets so beautifully embroidered on her legs!

    Lovely to catch up with you again Stephanie – I won’t leave it so long next time.


  21. Love your new blog header and the little shrug is so pretty.

  22. Bonjour Stephanie! J'adore vous lire! Cette petite tasse est tellement belle et vous me donnez envie de manger des sucreries avec votre photo! Angélique est trop mignonne! Et votre dernière creation est parfaite. Le détail du jupon est trop bien fait!

  23. love her sweater and hat!! She is such a sweet little girl to photograph, you capture her happiness beautifully.

  24. You've shown so much creativity in this one post, Stephanie. I like how you link together all of the different projects.

    Enjoy your week.


  25. I am lost for words! So many visual treats it is hard to know on which to comment! I like the idea of taking the teacup and saucer as inspiration for other things such as the colourway in the shrug and in the beautiful hare. I am inspired by the fudge too and now want to fill teacups up with sweet treats! x

  26. All looks lovely and sweet enough to make me hungry :0) I do love all your creations(sweet shrug, sweet rabbit, sweet fudges, sweet tunic made with sweet fabric :0) and the tea cup with saucer as well. Ooh, and Tchaikovsky. Your model is soooo sweet too :0)
    Thank you so much for your comment
    Have a very nice evening

  27. Well, what a wonderful post! So many lovely, sweet, pretty things to see! :-)

  28. ~ Dear Stephanie...
    Reminiscing here with you as 'The Nut cracker' brought wonderful memories of my daughter, Olivia's first ballet show.....~ and wishing also we could all borrow the eyes of a small child some times..,Wouldn't that be magical! ,LOVE, LOVE and LOVE some more your beautiful little model here....So beautiful as is the 'sweetie' coloured shrug she wears....I would wish for one of those in a big 'Mum's ,size....so much loveliness in this post and I thank you for this...Hugs and Autumnal kisses Maria xx

  29. Hello Stephanie. I adore this pattern and it looks SO adorable on Angelique. I saw it on Ravelry and then on Soulemama's post and almost wished my daughter was a bit younger so I could make it for her, but at 9 years old she seems to think she's too grown up for it. Sigh. I love yours in Pink. The tunic and Pink Hare are gorgeous too. Your talk of the Nutcracker brought back lovely memories of my daughters very first ballet concert. It was The Nutcracker too and she was a little red Christmas Fairy. Thank you for the trip down memory lane. Have a lovely week. Mel x

  30. Oh my what a beautiful model. Gosh, I haven't eaten fudge for ages must get some

  31. A sweetie theme, what could be better! I would love to take my daughter to Covent Garden to see the Nutcracker, she has always loved the story, and used to make me read it over and over.I was thinking of having a Nutcracker theme in my shop for Christmas too. Angelique is so pretty and sweet looking in her lovely outfit, you must be the best dressed family in France!
    Love your new rosy header and your cute little hare. I popped in to get your recipe for lemon curd, I hope I can find it, but if not I'll take fudge! Much love to you Stephanie, love Linda x

  32. Thank you Stephanie, I got both lovely recipes. Good luck with your sewing. Love Linda x

  33. Dear Stephanie,
    As usual, more than usual (but I have this feeling each time I come and visit you here!), your post is a marvel so richly filled with so many treasures that I have to come once, twice, more, to enjoy and enjoy again. From Angelique blue gaze, to the red tea cup with fudge (huumm), tchakoivsky and Mademoiselle Nutcraker! You fill our autumn days with joy and colour. Have a nice end of week.

  34. Ooh...The Nutcracker..;pretty teacups... fudge...beautiful photos of Angélique in her new shrug and dress and a gorgeous lady hare to finish...I feel completely indulged in loveliness this sunny morning Stephanie...a perfect start to my day!
    Happy Thursday!
    Susan x

  35. It's all so delightful - the tea cup, the shrug, the hare, the colours and fabrics - all delicious. I love the theme you give each post, your posts are always to be savoured with a cup of tea. I especially love the cross stitch details on the hare's ankles - such attention to detail! x

  36. Liebe Stephanie,
    ich liebe es, wie Du verschiedene Themen, Farben und Dinge miteinander verstrickst. Das Feingefühl, mit dem Du einen Bogen über alles spannst, ist immer wieder beeindruckend. Deine Posts sind für mich kleine kreative Kostbarkeiten. :-)

    Die Art und Weise, in der Du Tschaikowski (mein absolutes Lieblingsballett ist Schwanensee!), Fudge und diese hübsche Sammeltasse in einem Jäckchen, einer Bluse (Angélique sieht ganz bezaubernd darin aus) und einer neuen Hasen-Kreation vereinst (oder besser: vernähst und verstrickst) ist einfach herrlich!

    Ist das nicht wunderbar, in Gedanken Farben, Bilder und Themen miteinander zu verbinden? Mir geht es oft so, wenn ich gedanklich wieder neue Seifen kreiere. Ich versuche dann, Düfte mit Farben und Themen zu vereinen und herauszufinden, nach welchen Farben und welchem Namen ein Duft verlangt. Das sind sehr schöne gedankliche Spielereien, bei denen man der kreativen freien Lauf lassen kann.

    Ich wünsche Dir ein schönes Wochenende, voller Farben, Phantasie und Kreativität!

    Liebe Grüße, Bärbel

  37. Hello lovely Stephanie ..... firstly I must apologise, for some reason your posts haven't been showing up on my blog list and I have been missing them. that will never do.
    Your little Angélique is such a sweetheart, i adore the last photo and her little shrug and tunic are Oh So Pretty! you are one clever lady.
    love jooles xxx

  38. Love teacups!! This one is gorgeous. Such a sweet girl, love her outfit and the hat is the best, so lovely! Have a gorgeous week doll xx

  39. Oh my goodness...I love love love that teacup, especially that first overhead shot of it against the beautiful tablecloth. AND that little sweater! And of course, the little one in it is darling too. Thank you for coming by recently. Hope the world is your oyster and life is bringing you everything you love.

  40. Oh Stephanie, this little shrug is probably my favorite creation of yours yet! My favorite color is pink. So the teacup, the shrug, the bunny all fit my fancy so perfectly. Every time I come here, I think to myself, "You know, I really must learn to knit better!"

    I'm glad there are still roses blooming around you, too. Even though it's technically fall, I keep savoring every warm day and every plant and flower still carrying on as though summer never ended.


  41. Bonjour Stephanie! This post is a delicious confection from start to finish, and now you have me humming Waltz of the Flowers! :)))
    I have always felt that if I had to choose just one composer to listen to, it would be Tchaikovsky....beyond brilliant. What lovely memories you have shared here, and your sweet girl is so darling! You have created a beautiful sweater and bunny...I love that raspberry color....and the tea cup, and the gorgeous placemat...let's not forget the fudge! :)
    Thank you for your eloquence and magic!
    Enjoy the cosiness of October...
    - Irina

  42. I love the pictures of Angelique and her shrug. What a beauty she is!

  43. I absolutely adore your colour choices, they are sooo beautiful. I wish I had the confidence to use colours the way you do. That tiny little mustard coloured jumper for the bunny is just so cute, my daughter squealed when she saw it!! Thank you for the fudge recipe, sounds yummy indeed.jx

  44. Your most wonderful bunny , those colors!
    the fudge looks so much like caramel, and I too have a tin of Golden Syrup which our tiny little grocery carries here in California. I am so grateful they have not changed the label , ever.
    Can't wait to try your recipie

  45. You're making my mouth water, such a sweetie post! Angélique looks adorable in her new clothes I LOVE that fabric and the little cardigan shrug!
    Jess x x

  46. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  47. What a great, inspiring post you put together. So full of lovely things and thoughts.Such a delightful combination of craft, music, dance and bakery. I'll be visiting your blog Stefanie sans doute!

  48. Salut ! I love The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. I wonder if you know there are books by Usborne with music of these ballet for children. They're really great for kids. My son and niece love these books and, now, we'd love to take them to see the ballets for Christmas. I'm sure it'll be a bit long for them but really fun and exciting too!

  49. Oops, I forgot the link. The Nutcracker: http://www.usborne.com/catalogue/catalogue.aspx?id=6562


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