Friday, 3 January 2014


 The Rock of Manerba, Lake Garda, Italy - April 1595

A white flame of horror coursed through her.  'What are you doing?  What's happened to my hair?'

Slowly, [Margherita] began to realise that the hair was not all the same colour.  Some of the tresses were more red than gold, some more gold than red.  Some hung in tight twists and ringlets, some were smooth and silky, and others formed soft loose curls.  Each flowed and coiled into the next, like a river that ran one moment in quick rapids, then fell in a foaming roar, before winding in lazy loops into a tranquil pool.

'Hold still,' the sorceress said.  She was kneeling beside the bed, a long curved needle in one hand, threaded with fine golden filaments, a long flow of bronze-coloured hair in the other.  Each time she bound the hair, she chanted:

By the power of three times three, I bind you to me.
Thou may not speak of me, nor raise a hand to me
Nor stir from this place where I have cast thee.

It was as if her words wrapped chains around Margherita's wrists and ankles and tongue, fettering her.  She could not move or speak, though whimpers of terror struggled in her throat.

Kate Forsyth, Bitter Greens, p. 136.
Last summer, an amazing young lady named Claire, sent me a plump parcel full of exquisite yarns, the colours of which had been inspired by a card of Rapunzel my children had chosen for her. After a few months of casting on and unravelling a variety of promising patterns which I had hoped would do justice to the Rosy Cochineal silk and baby camel yarn I finally turned, for the third time, to Dani Sunshine’s Vintage Bouquet for which you will find my Ravelry notes here. Whilst knitting this shawl I embarked on a fascinating voyage into the origins of the Rapunzel fairytale thanks to Kate Forsyth’s, intriguing novel ‘Bitter Greens’ which, to my great delight, bought me, via late sixteenth-century Venice, full circle to the court of Louis XIV - the seat of my beloved late seventeenth-century aesthetics research.

I learned that the first version, written in 1634 by Giambattista Basile, was entitled Petrosinella; after the heroine's mother's craving for parsley not salad.  Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force included her version, Persinette, in a collection of fairy tales published in 1697 during her bleak exile from the court of Versailles.  The final tale which most of us are familiar with is, of course, the Grimm brothers' Rapunzel which appeared in 1812

In Bitter Greens Charlotte-Rose de La Force's story becomes interwoven with the original strands of the Rapunzel tale.  She was an independently–minded woman from a noble family who caused several scandals in her quest to live a life that was self–determined. After publishing satirical works concerning King Louis XIV and an elopement with a minor Charlotte-Rose was exiled to a convent where she wrote her collection of fairy tales and a series of popular historical novels.  It is not hard to see why the story of a maiden locked away in a tower would appeal to her although scholars are puzzled as to how she gained access to the original Italian tale.

Instructive though it might be Kate Forsyth's novel is also the perfect companion for long winter evenings curled up in an armchair by the fire.  Three women, three lives and three stories are braided together in a compelling tale.  Have you read it?  If so I would love to have your opinion!  For those who might like to read the original Petrosinella I strongly recommend Jack Zipes's translation found in this book. Unfortunately, I cannot find an English translation of the French Persinette which is to be found in this collection.  I am pretty sure I will be laying my hands soon on this recent publication about the Rapunzel tradition.
And those boots?  They are, of course, the exquisite work of my favourite shoemaker, Ren from Fairysteps.  Unique, soft, light and built to last for many years.  I am absolutely certain I won't be bumping into another pair of feet in France as well shod as mine!  Rapunzel would have been grateful for such a comfortable pair of shoes once she broke free from her hellish confinement.
And because one fairytale often leads to another, here is the French artist, Miss Clara's, most recent work of art; The Princess And The Pea which is now available in English.

My most important message to each and every one of you, dear readers, is A VERY HAPPY, PEACEFUL, and MAGICAL New Year!  Oh, the undeniable thrill of a blank book waiting to be written.  Which begs the question; do you have any dreams for 2014?

Warmest wishes,


ps With many thanks to Héloïse who posed under the rainclouds as a rather cheerful Rapunzel on New Year's Eve.  We had fun, didn't we?

ps I've just noticed that my shoes are featuring on Ren's Fairysteps header over here.


  1. Dear Stephanie,
    what a wonderful scarf ....I love the colours and the pattern, and I love your boots :O)
    Happy New Year to you, may it be good, full of happiness and healthyness for you!

  2. Happy new year Stephanie! your daughter looks wonderful in her shawl and red hair, oh for red hair!! Your boots are amazing, the shop is lovely. I'm a little tempted! Wishing you many blessings for 2014, Heather x

  3. It's all too beautiful Stephanie. Heroise is a true princess with her carefully knitted and yarn chosen shawl which looks so delicate and so you!
    As for your Fairystep boots, they are too precious, I had a quick browse on her website and love the slight points in the leather pumps, just that subtle hint of fairy :o)
    Here's wishing you and your precious family strands of gold and a beautiful memory woven year full of joy and wonder xox Penny

  4. Héloïse makes a beautiful Rapunzel in her gorgeous shawl! It was fascinating to learn the history of the tale...thank you Stephanie!
    Wishing you and your lovely family a very healthy, happy 2014...as for me there will be more knitting! :)
    V xxx

  5. Stephanie, whenever I read one of your posts I always feel I'm being transported into a magical world! Have a very happy, magical 2014! :) x

  6. This, and other reasons, is why you must always stay visible on Blogger. Stephanie, very few people know how to truly capture the essence of a classic thought and meld that into their own "modern" experience. What you do EVERY TIME with your world by mixing it into the history of your region, a fairy tale or an ancient garden, is piercing a barrier that most would consider impossible to break. When we can combine such charming classical stories with our own, we are preserving something very special.

    Your needlework is superbly crafted. I wish that I could commission you (but you are far too busy!) to make me one of these shawls....oh dear, my wonderful mother could do this kind of work, but she is not with me any longer. Then of course, MISS CLARA; she is one if not MY favorite paper artist (then Isabel de Borchgrave!) whose ethereal style fits perfectly with your garden and creation. Then there's fairy steps....one day, I need a bag or a pair of those elf shoes!

    You I believe, are combining your art work with your thesis, and vice-versa, non? Whatever you are doing, keep doing it my friend. Your old world surroundings are needed in this new world where most people don't realize how much we need this connection to past literature. THANK YOU for this magical journey on this very cold Minnesota morning! Bises, Anita

  7. That shawl is exquisite beautiful and oh so I want it to be mine :) Love the modeling as always and I wish you a magical new year!!!

  8. So lovely Stephanie, and how nice to let your thoughts wander through stories and history as you knit and create.
    Wishing you much wonderfulness in the year ahead!!!
    With love, Renee

  9. Dear Stephanie, always a magical journey, my visit to you.....so much to savour and beauty for my eyes....sending you warmest wishes across the ocean, wishes that all your beautiful heart desires for 2014...N.xo

  10. Bonjour Stephanie! Héloïse est belle comme une princesse de contes de fées! J'adore les histoires dont vous parlez aujourd'hui! Je vais chercher pour voir si les livres seraient disponibles ici! Bonne année et meilleurs voeux pour 2014! :D

  11. A very Happy New Year to you, Stephanie, and thank you for this intriguing post.

    The deep green leaves behind beautiful Heloise give a wonderful contrast to the delicate knitting in that shawl. The photographs of the entrance way gate shows a scene that does take me to fairytale lands. I admit that the Bitter Greens story sounds rather scary...if I had known that story as a child, I think that I would have been frightened. Lots of nightmare potential. Still, it's so interesting to learn more of the evolution of this story.

    No nightmare potential in those amazing rosy boots. They are unlike anything I have ever seen. How fabulous it is to know that they are also comfortable and made to last. That is magic made real!

    Lots of love to you and yours as we begin to make our way through the adventures that 2014 will provide. xo

  12. What an exquisite shawl and beautifully modelled. You have inspired me to read 'Bitter Greens'. It sounds intriguing. 'Rapunzel' was a favourite story of eldest daughter when she was little. We had to read it over and over again! She too has long red hair.

  13. Gorgeous daughter. Beautiful shawl. What a cover for that fairy tale.

  14. Two of my favourite artist/makers! I love Ren's shoes and one day hope to have some. Yours look perfect! I love the enchanted world that Miss Clara creates too. There's a lovely video I saw of her in her home some time ago. I wish I spoke french well enough to be able to understand it but it was a visual feast nontheless :) Bitter Greens sounds just up my street. I shall have to look it up. :)
    Jess xx

  15. What a delightful post and another book to add to my reading list this year! Heloise looks very beautiful in that lovely shawl.

  16. Such an interesting post Stephanie transporting me to steep crooked towers and gothic archways ...another time ,another place :-) Bittter Greens sounds so interesting, so very me! Looking it up!

    Your Heloise is beautiful and so suits the shawl ........lovely photos.

    Do hope you had a wonderful holiday with your family.

    A very happy New year :-)


  17. The book sounds really fascinating. I love fairy stories, that dark magic they have. A beautiful shawl as well, worth all the time you spent trying to get it right, it's perfect. I am waiting to see what is written on the pages of 2014. Wishing you a very happy New Year.

  18. The colours of the shawl suit Heloise beautifully and your new shoes look fabulous. I plan to just have a good year watching my little granddaughter grow and be content. How I love that word.

  19. Your darling girl out shines any cloudy day. Love the shawl, love the boots, swoon, I think I want a pair and of course love your blog post today.

  20. I was just thinking about Fairysteps (and you) a few days ago ... wondering if you had bought any more of their amazing shoes lately. And here they are! What a glorious colour.

    Your Héloïse ... how lovely she looks with her long dancer's neck and beautiful complexion and richly-toned hair. And the shawl is perfect - I love rose and green together, and that delicate border is very evocative of leavy herbs.

    Wishing you and your family the most peaceful and magical New Year imaginable. :)

    P.S. I had no idea that so much lay behind the Rapunzel tale - your posts are always so fascinating!

  21. What a beautiful shawl! It is so lacey and beautiful, and how fun to be so inspired by gifted yarn and a good book. It is fairy tale quality, indeed! Wishing you a wonderful new year--- and those boots are lovely!

  22. A Happy, Healthy and Magical New Year to you and your family too Stephanie!

    What a beautiful Rapunzel your daughter Heloise makes! Rapunzel is the favourite Disney film of my two youngest daughters. Although they are 19 and 21 years old, they still love watching it. I have to admit I rather like it too :-) We never read the book or any of the other books you mentioned. Bitter green sounds like a interesting read. I will check it out on Amazon.

    Your scarf turned out beautifully. Lovely colours! What I wanted to say....please don't worry about the thing you want to send to me. Whatever it is....there is no haste (or is it edible? :-)!

    Happy weekend!

    Madelief x

  23. Happy New Year to you and your family dear Stephanie!...Wishing you a wonderful and creative year ahead and lots of new adventures in the land of Millefeuilles!...Thank you for being a lovely blog friend and for keeping me company on FB and always for your kind comments...it's such a treat to visit your magical and inspiring world and I'm so looking forward to doing more through 2014!
    Héloïse looks beautiful in your latest shawl and the colours are truly gorgeous...ooh, and your boots are just wonderful!
    Susan x

  24. It's always an inspiring visit when I get swept up in one of your posts. Héloïse looks lovely in your new creation and I can only imagine the enjoyment you'll have in your new shoes. They are worthy of their own fairytale adventures.


  25. Just found your blog - what a lovely treat for me! Gorgeous shawl - love the colours. Ooh, and the boots are delicious! Happy New Year! Abby x

  26. Dear Stephanie,
    Heloïse is a perfect, beautiful Rapunzel (what a gorgeous hair... Kate Forsyth's words couldn't be matched better). The shawl is perfect for the fairy tale, as well as the shoes. A fairy princess you must be too, mother of fairy princesses (and prince). This post is especially enchanting and the Bitter green novel sounds fascinating.... another one I shall order soon.

  27. Wow -- your shawl is gorgeous! As are those beautiful shoes. Wishing you a VERY Happy New Year -- full or fabulous projects!

  28. Happy New Year to your and your gorgeous family Stephanie!!! Such a lovely Post. Rapunzel is one of my all-time favourites and the children love the latest film version "Tangled" - it's a good one actually! Another beautiful shawl and Heloise looks stunning in it..I was actually wondering how she went in her interview....? Wishing you all the best for a wonderful 2014! Mel xxx

  29. I feel very cultured now after reading this post!, what a magical world you have given me an insight into. The shawl is beautiful, the colours are delightful and I bet it feels wonderful to wear. Happy New Year to you. pjx

  30. Happy new year dear Stephanie ..... wishing you much love, happiness and peace x
    Such a stunning shawl the same goes for your beautiful model!
    love Jooles x x x

  31. Hi Stephanie, I just found your wonderful blog! So interesting to read about the background of the Rapunzel fairy tale, so far I only knew the version of the Grimm brothers. The shawl that you knitted is very beautiful and so is your model! I love your shoes, too. I have a feeling that I have come across a little blog jewel here in the big blog land, and will return and read more when I have a bit more peace and quite. Happy New Year to your as well.

  32. Dear Stephanie,
    It seems we are both reading and both thinking of writing new pages with thoughts for the new year, a head..I fall in love with story telling.....I loved this post for this....~ The shawl is the prettiest I've seen,,,as is the young lady who is modelling.....
    I would like to wish you a new year that is both brave and exciting, Stephanie and thank you always for our friendship on here...
    With kindest thoughts...Maria x

  33. reading and knitting and daughters, LOVE it all so much! happiest of happy new years dear Stephanie.

  34. You really do have the most beautiful daughter! I am also very much in love with the boots. Hope 2014 is a very good year for you and yours.

  35. Oh! I have boot envy!! And that really is the most beautiful knit, though it is outshone by the radiance of your model :)

  36. Hi Stephanie,
    Your thoughts here are as fascinating as usual-- stimulation for my winter-weary mind!

    The combination of colors in Heloise's shawl are perfect for this time of year-- soft enough not to be jarring & brilliant enough to be cheerful. Perfect!

    Wishing you and your family a happy New Year!


  37. Oh how I love this post, Stephanie! That shawl, that moss on the pillar, your creations. It was so lovely this morning to see your comment on my post, and me too, THAT TEA...THAT IS MY KIND TOO! We have some fantastic tea that a blogger friend sent me from Paris, and it has these lovely flowers mixed in....what a rich and satisfying tea. And like you, I can look outside of my studio window and see our chubby GREY squirrels steal berries, sit on my window pane and actually look in, or just be a part of nature's show in pure white.

    Wishing you more beauty as the day unfolds my beautiful friend. Anita

  38. Found your blog at Madelief, with her beautifull teacups...
    What a lovely photos you have and such a beautifull knitted shawl.
    I started my blog last july and I write in english too, so I'm still searching among foreign bloggers;)
    I'll keep following your nice blog.

    Lovely greetings, MJ (seeshappyhome.blogspot.com)

  39. Hi Stephanie,
    Thank you for your visit to my blog and your lovely comments.
    Your blog is lovely too. Pretty and delightful - full of interesting reading and I love all the little children's clothes - beautiful.
    Have a lovely day!

  40. Dear Stephanie,

    I saw it , I saw it - one little pink lace flower......It looks wonderful. Hope the next parcel is not too long in coming.....Have a happy weekend.

    Bye the way I loved your shoes!



  41. I thank you from my heart for this great site. Thank you again! Good day to you and soon.

    voyance gratuite par mail


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...