Friday, 17 January 2014

Delighting In Winter And The Boy

Dear readers,

Some folk cannot abide winter - there's too much talk of death in the garden - and grumble when temperatures hit zero.  Aside from the unpleasant truth of lurking stomach bugs and heavy colds I love it.  I don't consider winter a hardship.  It grants us many happy evenings of warm firelight and play (whether it be with yarn, musical instruments or playing cards), plenty of conversation and, just as importantly, another lens through which to see nature.  Winter is a time to observe the wood and the trees.  Barren branches against a pale blue sky are restful to the eye, and stunning too. The searching eye must prowl the wintery landscape learning the beauty of minimal colour palettes and stark silhouettes.

Here in the Loire Valley winter generally brings damp cold, rising water levels and precious little snow.  There is less sunlight of course (although this January, so far, we have been treated to a lot of sunshine) thanks to the slight tilt of the Earth, when rays strike at a shallow slant and the sun just doesn't feel as warm.  But when the frost strikes, or better still, snow falls, then childhood excitement returns as everything glitters like diamond dust and I find myself weaving fairytales both in my head and in our everyday life.
Mother Hulda (my version is a French adaptation), Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm's fairy tale, with its all-female cast, puts to the forefront the goddess of Pre-Christian German and Scandinavian folklore who single-handedly rules the weather; sunshine, snow and rain.  Mother Hulda is associated with spinning and weaving and in this wintery tale her cardinal role as patroness and guardian of all maidens is to shape the two sisters' destinies.  Mother Holle's eiderdown must be shaken thoroughly by a hard-working girl causing the feathers to fly about and the people in the world below to believe it is snowing.

And that slender, delicate maiden who has surely caught your eye above?  She is a winter fairy or, perhaps, a snowflake turned into the shape of a girl dressed in the finest white gauze with slippers sparkling like snow crystals.  She is also the work of the remarkable Verity Hope who paints, snow fairies aside, an evocate picture of life in sun-drenched Provence amidst the lavender fields.  I have wrapped her in tissue paper for Angélique's fast-approaching fourth birthday.
Finally, let us please turn to Tristan who does not get enough of a look-in both here and on Ravelry, averaging at around one pullover a year, poor child, which is quite shameful as I think about how palpable his excitement is when asked to chose a pattern and colour scheme for himself.  And as I observe him posing proudly for his photo session I marvel how such a dynamic, bouncy child can be so still and receptive to the camera unlike dear Héloïse who is always in movement thus causing many a blurred picture!  Dear Tristan, my guitar player and lover of anitque cars - or any car for that matter - is possibly the greatest weaver of stories in our family.  His imagination seems pretty boundless and his fountain pen nib scratches his ragged, hand-cut exercise books most weekend mornings. Perhaps, as Héloïse said recently, his tales are good because he strives to tell them without paying too much heed to perfection.  The odd spelling mistake or three will not hamper his enthusiasm!

He chose Veera Välimäki's High Water in Quince & Co.'s worsted-weight Lark in the wintery colourways; Frost and Winesap.The pattern is plain sailing except for the joining of the collar to the yoke which left me puzzled for more hours than I care to mention. Fortunately a fellow knitter living in Northern Norway, who is writing a thesis on brown bears, came to my help with a very useful diagram.   If you would like to read more about the simple techniques I acquired whilst knitting this pattern my Ravelry notes may be found here.
Happy weekend to you, dear readers! Thank you very much for all your kind comments which warm my heart.

A bientôt,


ps Would some kind knitting souls pop over to Ravelry here and leave a heart for Tristan, please?  For some strange and touching reason this son of mine attaches a lot of importance to how many hearts his pullover gets.  Thank you :-)


  1. Stephanie how adorable is he? You must be proud!
    I have left my heart with him on Ravelry...tell him to take care of it.....bestest wishes and congrats on a superb jumper....
    Daisy j x

  2. I'll see if I can work out how to leave a heart! I love the little fairy!

  3. A stunning sweater for a very handsome boy. You must be very proud, mainly of your boy and of the sweater too. He needs more sweaters, I have <3 it! Fiona

  4. A beautiful post full of enchanting treasures...including your sweet boy and his sweater! I'm on my way to Ravelry now...

  5. What a beautiful evocation of winter and a very handsome boy in his lovely, new jumper!

  6. Darling Tristan, You have my heart, as do you Dear Stephanie xx What a beautiful way to look at winter, I think every season has its ups and downs, Spring has its bursting buds but evil wet cold sometimes, Summer is warm and sunny but when all the grass and hedgerows lose their beautiful vibrant spring colours and start to look jaded and dusty, thats quite sad, but then we have Autumn to look forward to, the colours and the warm days but cool nights...I love this world xx

  7. Indeed I have already left a heart for that very handsome son of yours and his wonderful sweater! :) You do make winter sound magical Stephanie but I'm afraid I'm still a spring lover. I think I could live in the world of Verity Hope, in a sunny Provence with the scent of lavender and the sound of crickets! :)
    Happy weekend,
    V xxx

  8. Je reviens juste de Ravelry Tristan et ajoute un petit coeur juste pour toi!
    Lovely post Stephanie and I love the book! Merci de partager et Bonne Annee a tous!

  9. Tristan, you very handsome lad, you did an excellent job modeling that very special sweater.

  10. Tristan est tellement beau et delicat et avec ce chandail il devient absolument seduisant, ce petit jeune homme...Tu as mon coeur cher Tristan, et ta maman c'est une expert des tricots et des pravaux pratiques.Et les flocons de neige et Mother Hulda, tout est magnifique!

  11. A heart has been added - a handsome lad in a great jumper - you must be proud. :)

  12. Oh my ..... your Tristan is adorable and so handsome, I would give him 1 million hearts for his amazing pullover if I could!
    Wishing Angélique a beautiful birthday and her gift to be is stunning.
    Wishing you all a wonderful and cosy weekend
    love Jooles x x x

  13. I LOVE THIS SO MUCH!!!!!!! Darling, handsome boy in his FABULOUS sweater!!!!!!!!! I love it! And MOTHER HULDA -- one of my great great great favorites!!! Oh I love this story! Your version here looks amazing.....is it in French?? The art is incredible!!!!

    (we haven't chatted a lot lately, so I'm extra excited and exclamation pointy. have i accosted you with my photography website yet?? melissaglynnphoto.com ~ I have a fairytale section!!! you will like, i hope) :)

    Happiest 2014 wishes to yo my sweet sweet faraway friend! BIG XOXO

  14. 'to YOU' I mean to say -- got so excited I can't type well :)

  15. Thank you so much Stephanie for featuring the little Verity Hope fairy, she looks so very happy in her home in France and so beautifully described. I shall look at Winter with renewed enthusiasm, you have such a lovely way with words and I wish you and your family a warm and cosy Winter weekend!!
    Thank you once again, Susannah x

  16. what a sweater and he is a perfect model-so handsome! My son as he got older had less knitwear. Now all of a sudden he is a hat wearer-and this knitter lovingly obliges :)

  17. A fantastic jumper, it fits him beautifully and is so wonderfully made. I love winter too, it's such a lovely time of year. Time to enjoy being out and rushing home to the warmth of a cosy house. I'm obsessed with looking up at bare tree branches against the sky. My eye always seeks them out.

  18. Ma chère amie,

    OK, I am super fascinated right now, that I am meeting another lover of winter. Call me crazy, but though I was born and bred in Southern California (we were just there for Christmas - 85 degrees F!) but GIVE ME A COLD WINTER'S NIGHT any day. And for the same reasons you mention above....conversation, poetry, a fire, a tea pot, scones, children telling tales...

    Then there is Tristan. Quel beau garçon! Ton fils est super, un écrivain, bien sûr! And your handiwork and photography is outstanding. Thank you for celebrating with me, the magic of winter, of DAME HIVER. Let us always create my friend! BISOUS!

  19. A lovely sweater, and I much admire Tristan's colour choice. I good job was done by all, I think.

    Glad you are enjoying your winter, dear Madame Stephanie. It is nearing 40 degrees F tonight and I am freezing. I love the cold, but can only handle so much. That must be what comes of living in a tropical climate.

    Slan abhaile,
    Giselle x

  20. beautiful jumper!!!!!
    you have a boy to be proud of!!!!! A story writer…..fantastic!!!!
    xxxxxx Ale

  21. He is so stately and handsome. I love his new pullover. He did a great job picking out its color scheme. You knitted wondefuflly.

  22. Tristan is a most handsome model and he wears his new sweater with great distinction. The little fairy is beautiful and seeing that book has suddenly transported me back to childhood and reading fairytales at school. I shall endeavor to start a collection of books for little Maisie so that we can enjoy them together when she is older. Always love your words they are like reading a fairytale. Xx

  23. I add a heart for you Tristan, Teller of tales. Sending you smiles Cx

  24. another heart from me :) love the sweater-great selection!!
    i am always telling my children i don't remember this much snow when i was growing up ~i grew up for several years, very near tours~ .tho one year we took a photo of a table we had outside and it had to be nearly a foot deep!.maybe it was days worth of accumulation, i don't remember , but it was a great photo :)

  25. ~ I think we were visiting each other at the very same time, dear Stephanie!
    ~ Add a couple of hearts from me,....x
    A young man so hansom and a jolly lovely sweater..
    ~ Winter plays a very big part in the bigger picture and with out her we wouldn't have summer..
    I'm cosying like you and making the most of soups and suppers by the fire...
    I love layering clothes and going out for winter walks...
    Thank you for the kindest words and your very real understanding of experiencing out of bodiness..
    It kinda scared me too...
    Love and kisses xxx
    Maria ...

  26. Your son looks very handsome and proud to wear his new jumper so lovingly made for him by his Mum. He choose the colours very well, I love it.

  27. I think he deserves all the hearts we can muster for him! What a cutie!!!! (and very very very nice sweater, too!)

  28. I agree with you about winter, especially after the holidays. I can think about the garden, but mostly from a hypothetical point of view. I love being out in the woods in the winter, too. I wish I were better at identifying animal footprints in the snow.

  29. Tristan is a sweetheart for modeling his lovely new sweater.

    As for winter, I'm glad to hear you trumpet the season, Stephanie, as far too many people gripe about the weather. I remember seeing a television program, a year ago or so, and it looked at the attitudes citizens of northern countries had towards winter. The celebratory practices of those in Russia and Norway were contrasted with the increasing negative attitude of other lands. Quite fascinating, really.

    Hoping you continue to enjoy this season,

  30. Good afternoon dear Stephanie!...How lovely to see the very handsome and extremely talented Tristan in your post today...who continues to have the most wonderful taste when it comes to picking out designs...we need to see them more often! (I shall be going over to your Ravelry page immediately to leave my heart!)
    I love your dainty little winter fairy too..she's completely magical and will be treasured by Angélique (4th birthday?...my how time flies!)
    Such a beautiful illustration on the cover of your book....Dame Hiver looks wonderfully dramatic!
    Happy Weekend to you all..must fly..I have a heart to leave ♥!
    Susan x

  31. Love the sweater with the big red buttons. Tristan looks fabulous wearing it. The angel is delightful and what a beautiful fairy tale.

    I love the crochet snowflakes. I have made quite a few myself that were used to decorate a tree as part of a community project. This is a beautiful pattern, much nicer than the one I used. How do you feel about your photos being pinned? I should love to add that one to my craft board. X

    PS I have clicked on the heart!

    1. Good afternoon dear Susan!

      I do not mind in the slightest having my pictures pinned but it is very kind of you to ask first! The most important thing I should add here is that these delightful snowflakes are NOT my work; I haven't learned to crochet yet. If you would like to see more of Aija's work - she lives in Riga - you will find it here:


      Happy weekend to you.


    2. Many thanks Stephanie. You have a wonderful weekend as well. X

  32. I am very impressed with your knitting skills and with your beautiful son. What a fine combination!

  33. Dear Stephanie,
    I like your words about winter. So close to what I feel myself.
    These crochet snowflakes makes the most beautiful Christmas decoration. I wish I couldd crochet. Althought I'm a knitting addict, I don't know about crochet either. By chance Elsa has just learnt at school and she promised to tech me). And what a charming winter fairy.
    There is a wonderful movie with Giullieta Masina, about Madame Holle, do you know it ?
    I like very much the photos of Tristan, he's such a beautiful boy, and what a gaze ! And he is very elegant in his new pullover (I feel a bit stupid but I didn't figure out how to add a heart on Ravelry).
    Have a beautiful sunday in this winter that tastes like an early spring.

  34. You are such a clever lady Stephanie. You may be interested in the work of Karen Davis who also inhabits a magical, creative world such as yours.


    With warm wishes

  35. oh my goodness your gorgeous boy. i hope he doesn't mind hearing that! what a beautiful knit and he looks stunning wearing it. we are of the same thought as i've (last week) taken photos with book also. what a lovely post stephanie! going to find an extra large heart for tristan and you!

  36. What a fabulous pullover and such a lovely model. He has a heart from me for sure. Your little winter fairy reminds me of a book I have read recently called The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. You might enjoy it.

    1. Good morning Di!

      Snap! I had exactly the same thought; she does remind me of The Snow Child! I, like many others, loved that book - the poetry of the landscape, and that blue snowflake coat her mother stitches for her painstakingly - and I wrote about it a little here over a year ago:


      Happy week to you and thank you for stopping by.


  37. Although I have been known to complain about weather extremes, and how they interrupt my comfort, I love the change of seasons, and especially love the cold and snow of winter when I can be cozy and warm with a cup of tea by the fire stitching...and I used to love sledding and making snowmen as well :) I admire Tristan's sweater and his modeling ability, too. I shall try to post another heart for him to count on Ravelry <3 xx

  38. I love Tristan's new jumper and so pleased he, like you, clearly loves to right.
    I wonder does he want to be a writer when he grows up? Would he weave a magical story for us to enjoy here.
    Sending winter wishes to you all

  39. Such a handsome and sweet looking son you have Stephanie. He looks very pleased with his new jumper! Love the big red buttons on his shoulders. Such a fun detail :-)

    Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog too. Comments like yours always make me blush!

    The weather in the Loire Valley sounds a lot like ours. No snow so far either, but lots of grey skies and mild temperatures. Like you, I do appreciate winter, but I must say, I can't wait for spring to arrive. The garden is calling....

    Good luck on your thesis!

    Happy week!

    Madelief x

  40. It's lovely to see Tristan his jumper is wonderful and he makes such a good model!

  41. What a completely lovely post...Tristan is looking very handsome int the new sweater. Love love the big button detail! May the JOY's of winter bring rest and peace. xoxo

  42. Hi Stephanie, I salute your positive attitude towards winter. That is something for a change! I love the (hand crochet?) stars hanging in the garden, sooo... beautiful. How wonderful that you are able to hand knit such a lovely sweater for your son and that he appreciates it so much. Your son is not only a very patient but also very pretty model. There is something very delicate about him. Wishing you a nice evening,

  43. Thank you for once again posting a visual feast of treats.

  44. Liebe Stephanie,
    wenn ich so Deine Beschreibung des Winters lese, kann er wirklich auch seine positiven Seiten haben. Aber ich bin ganz eindeutig kein Winterkind, ich mag den Herbst sehr gern, aber auch den Frühling. Hier sieht es ähnlich aus wie bei Euch. Grau und Braun dominieren und bisher hat Frau Holle ihre Kissen auch noch nicht über uns ausgeschüttelt. Aber unter uns, Schnee muss ich jetzt auch wirklich nicht mehr haben...
    Man sieht Tristan an, wie stolz er auf seinen neuen Pullover ist, das sind sehr schöne Fotos! Du hast so tolle Kinder! Ich habe mein Ravelry-Herz gern vergeben.:-)
    Momentan stricke ich auch einen Pulli von Veera Välimäki!

    Ganz liebe Grüße, Bärbel

  45. What a fascinating post Stephanie!! I always feel like a learn so much when I vist your lovely blog. I too love winter and the different lifestyle it brings. I enjoy the family time and the pleasures of sitting in front of a cosy fire. I know even though I miss the summers and warmer weather in south Africa, I will always need to live somewhere where there is a decent winter. I love the sweater you have made and your gorgeous son looks fabulous in it. Thank you for such a beautiful post, you always move me!! Xoxo

  46. Stephanie! BONJOUR!

    What a delight on this very sunny but FRIGID and windy Minnesota day to see your visit! In spite of the weather (warranting the closing of school with -50F temps), it IS a joy to know that there are Heartists like YOU and others that care about what they make. Thank you for your words of friendship that always mean so much to me. So France too is chilly? Soon my friend we will be delighting yet again in the gifts that spring will give us. I look forward to yet another bunny? I hope so!

    BISOUS, Anita

  47. Absolutely gorgeous Stephanie, the jumper AND your delightful lad. I love this pattern and the colours he chose make it really fun. I do love Winter too, and after the current Summer heatwave here I'd almost welcome some Winter weather sooner rather than later! Has Angelique had her Birthday already? I'm sure she will be delighted with her new winter fairy on her special day :-) Have a lovely week! Mel x PS I agree, the Dani Sunshine shawls are just lovely :-)

  48. Dear Stephanie, it was lovely to see you today, commenting...your lovely post here with Tristan brings back very happy memories of my own two sons as young boys, and everything that goes along with it!!
    I adore them today, more than ever, in their early thirties now, still un married...I had both by my twenty sixth year...I am sending a heart to Tristan...and sharing similar thoughts on Winter with you, N.xo

  49. Dear Stephanie,
    Reading your posts is a little welcome retreat during my busy day. I enjoyed seeing your sweet boy in his handsome sweater, and even thought I'm not a knitter (yet), I've created an account at Ravelry & "hearted" this pattern.


  50. There was a time that I was coming to your blog and I must say that it is always interesting !


  51. Oh, what a handsome lad your Tristan is! His sweater is splendid - and becomes him so well.
    Have a lovely end of the week, dear Stephanie !


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