Friday, 31 January 2014

The Spring Gatherer

Dear readers,
How may I thank all you kind souls who left sweet comments both here and on Ravelry concerning Tristan's winter pullover?  He was truly touched and most grateful and a little bit proud too which is a good thing as he can be quite self-effacing.  I read every word to him and watched him blush and glow.  A sight to behold.
Despite the unseasonally clement weather January has brought this year spring is not quite ready to limber up.  Timid bunches of naked green, which usually herald my favourite flower, the snowdrop, have not made their appearance yet.  However a couple of birds shared their demure song at dawn this morning and I felt most hopeful.  It was enough to fortify my heart after a mostly grey and damp week.  On Sunday I visited my favourite florist in the old part of Tours, after an enjoyable morning drinking coffee with new friends, and purchased a portly bunch of palest pink and white hyacinths to celebrate Angélique's fourth birthday on Monday.  It's a little tradition of ours.  Don't you think they set off this hat of mine well?  Rosewater is a delightful (and addictive) pattern which has been inspired by the famous Scottish architect and artist, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his rose designs.  Rosewater, stylised roses, Madelinetosh DK yarn in the Molly Ringwald colourway - think of the 1980s film Pretty In Pink - all comprise delightful ingredients in my book!  
My Ravelry notes may be found here.
I often turn fondly to the copperplate engraving above when I need a little springtime inspiration and a splash of delicate colour.  I first came across it in the rare manuscripts department of La Bibliothèque nationale in Paris during my research on Baroque gardens and parterre designs a few years ago.  It is the frontispiece from Crispijn van de Passe junior's masterpiece Hortus Floridus first published in 1614; a Florilegium conceived against the backdrop of the Tulipomania which raged first across Holland and then spread swiftly to Europe until it died a violent death in 1637 due to its self-inflicted economic crisis.  Bulbous and tuberous plants were highly fashionable and the first part of this book, The Spring Garden, contains an exquisite collection of spring flowers many of which had been introduced to Europe towards the close if the sixteenth and during the early years of the seventeenth century.  Tulips, hyacinths, auriculas and crown imperials were rarities and treasured as though they were jewels at the time.  Equally prized at the time was French garden design and a few detailed engravings mark the beginning of each season in the book.
Hortus Floridus had a very complex genesis.  Each publication was unique as the production of the book was a continuous process with newly discovered plants being introduced from time to time.  It appeared in four languages: Latin, French, English and Dutch.  And most surprisingly the pictures, such as the frontispiece above, were to be coloured in by the owner:

"Hereby added the way in which the flowers according to their own colours should be painted or illuminated to the service of all curious lovers of flowers."
There is, if you are interested, a beautiful reproduction of an early twentieth-century edition which is available for purchase at a very affordable price here.
And the pictures above?  Well, the long-limbed creature is a doe who goes by the name of The Spring Gatherer.  She was my first creation this January and heralds the first throws of spring together with my newly acquired passion for patchwork which you can also see in its rudimentary glory in the doll's quilt I stitched for Angélique's fourth birthday gift - proficient patchworkers please avert your gaze!  I had so much pleasure making it; it's a flowerbed of sorts with a tiny embroidered mouse with armfuls of blooms - can you see it?  I mixed vintage French fabrics with scraps of Liberty but the BEST thing about this quilt is the handful of pink tatted lace flowers I have sown (yes, 'sown' not 'sewn').  They are the work of a remarkable Australian lady, Robyn, who gifted me the most exquisite lace I have ever clapped eyes on.  I will be taking more pictures of these beauties very soon to share with you.  Can you see one on The Spring Gather's bag?  When I look at Robyn's tatting I am lost for words at the perfection of those flowers and butterflies.  Can you believe she made them on a train journey to Prague and then Paris?
The weather may have been overcast but the week has been full of treasures.
I wish you all many happy moments over the next few days.
A bientôt,

ps Will anyone else be joining in Laura's The Year In Books project for the first time in Feburary?


  1. Hello beautiful Stéphanie ..... I'ts so wonderful to see you, and what a pretty hat and Gosh those hyacinths are wonderful too.
    I NEED some socks just like those of The spring gatherer! she is INCREDIBLE by the way! Can't wait to see more tatting.
    Happy weekend to you
    love Jooles x x x

  2. beautiful, sweet hat!!!!!
    Nice to see you Stephanie!!!!!
    xxxxxxx Ale

  3. Stephanie how could I avert my eyes and miss out on such loveliness. I have been eagerly awaiting to see your patchwork and I am not disappointed. Angelique's dolly quilt is very pretty and Miss Spring Gatherer looks divine in her patchwork pantaloons. Love your new hat too. You too are a vision of loveliness. Looks like we have similar hairstyles. Happy Birthday to Angelique, 4 is most grown up. Xxx

  4. Your hat is so pretty Stephanie and beautifully complimented by your gorgeous hyacinths. I do hope Angélique had a lovely birthday, I'm sure she was delighted with her little quilt.
    The Spring Gatherer is wonderful and she would certainly need her socks if she were around these parts this morning!!
    I do like the idea of colouring in for adults! :)
    Happy weekend,
    V xxx

  5. I love love love pink, and your pretty hat and bouquet have made me smile! And Molly sure did have the most sublime shades in the film... ;-) Now if only I had an outfit just like your lovely Spring Gatherer, life would be just dandy! Chrissie x

  6. Such delights here, as always (and in your last post too, which I somehow missed). I now have have hat and hyacinth envy. I look ridiculous in hats but they suit you so well :)

    A very happy fourth birthday to sweet Angélique x

  7. All so lovely, you hat is very pretty and it really suits you!! xx

  8. love your hat-such a pretty color & such a sweet doe too!
    happy birthday to angelique :)

  9. Oh my goodness....Stephanie mon amie, I must come back and properly respond to this lush post; it is morning and I must drive off now in the snow for about a two hour trek to work!

    I just wanted to come by as I see you have a new post. But this is too rich to let go....I will be back! LOVE, Anita

  10. I've been waiting for the post of these knits. And the mouse? is so cute :) I love her satchel :)

  11. ~ Ooh it's lovely to get a 'peek' of you, Stephanie, ...I am LOVING your beret...and that very fact that it is pale pink...I also really love your hair..I'm a girl with curls and often dream of a sleek bob...
    Little spring mouse is delightful and i am wishing my self a satchel like hers...~
    Take time to dream lovely YOU!...I'm waiting long and hard for snow drops to show their sweet faces too...
    Love Maria x

  12. Oh Stephanie...I adore the soft pink of the crocheted cap/beret and the combination with the hyacints is really my kind a thing...together with the soft coloured clothes you wear and your blond hair...really lovely <3 and pretty :)

    Wishing you a sunny weekend, lovely greetings, MJ

  13. Aren't you the cutest thing? You look adorable in your pretty pink hat! And your Doe and sweet little quilt -- They're Beautiful!!!

    I'm quite intrigued by your description of A Garden of Flowers -- the garden engraving really caught my eye. I clicked through to Amazon, but, sadly, it appears that the copy they're offering is in black and white. The color version you show is beautiful!

  14. So much beauty in one post...
    First the hat and its breathtaking shade of pale pink, just gorgeous.
    But it is your January creation of the doe that makes my heart aflutter...
    Warm birthday wishes for your daughter too!
    Susan x

  15. oh, Stephanie!!! what to comment on first??? The beret suits you perfectly, and you are most assuredly 'pretty in pink' (although pretty in any color, quite obviously) The flowers really do speak spring to me....we don't even boast hellebores yet, so some flowers for the weekend are on my list of things to get today....i only wish i could find some as lovely. I always LOVE the history lessons....and mousey is so put-together!!! She's my kind of gal...wearing knitting, patchwork, felting, and tatting!! Never too much handmade love.

  16. OK HERE WE GO -- you look like the loveliest spring flower!!!!!!!!!!!!! oh my goodness, your hat, your hair, your coat, your lovely skin --- breathtaking, my friend!! And your creation this time is one of my favorites that you've ever done! I adore the colors!!! And the little purse!!!! Incredible.

    That book club looks really fun! I'll see if I can get it together enough to participate!

  17. Love the colour of the wool you have used for the hat and the flowers...
    Love your Spring Gatherer make and I would love to make that little patchwork blanket..
    Lot's of loving !!!! and thank you for leaving kind comments on my dolls.

  18. Happy 4th birthday to Angelique! Hope she will have a beautiful sunny day :-) You look (it is you, isn't it?) lovely on the photographs. Great outfit too!

    What I wanted to say.......you are always welcome for a tea/lunch in my garden...whenever you like! Would love to meet you! You don't have to wait for a workshop!!!

    Happy weekend!

    Madelief x

    The Spring Gatherer does justice to his name!

    Happy weekend!

    Madelief x

  19. Hi Stephanie, Your hat and hyacinths are so lovely and it's nice to see you too. I can see the similarity with your children. I can't believe Angelique is 4 hope she had a wonderful birthday. Sarah x

  20. Such a lovely post, full of beautiful images and garden history too! I love your beret. It is so pretty and suits you very well and the little doe and quilt are beautiful.

  21. Oh, Stephanie, ich weiß gar nicht, wo ich anfangen soll... Du siehst so hübsch in diesen Puderfarben aus, die Dir ausgesprochen gut stehen! Rosewater, was für ein schöner Name für eine Mütze, die Farbe ist perfekt, und dazu diese wunderschönen Hyazinthen, traumhaft! Ich möchte ja schon seit längerem eine solche Mütze stricken, aber jetzt steht sie ganz weit oben auf meiner To-do-Liste!
    Mit The Spring Gatherer ist Dir mal wieder ein kleines Kunstwerk gelungen, diese kleinen Details und wunderschönen Farben, ich bin hin und weg!

    Ganz liebe Grüße (vor allem herzliche Geburtstagsgrüße an Angélique!), Bärbel

    PS: Sag mal, ist das zufällig der Mantel "Diana" von Johnnie Boden??? Den hätte ich mir fast in Grün bestellt, leider war ich zu spät...

    1. Yes, yes, dear Bärbel, it is that coat! And I am delighted with it! I thought purchasing the cream-coloured one was a risk but, amazingly, I haven't dirtied it...yet! So, there's another thing we have in common; how wonderful.

      I hope we may meet some day...

      Warmest wishes,


    2. Ich habe den Mantel gleich an den seidigen Borten am Kragen und an den Ärmeln erkannt! :-) Die Farbe steht Dir sehr gut und ich beneide Dich so um dieses gute Stück! Das nächste Mal muss ich mich mal etwas schneller entscheiden...ich bin immer fürchterlich unentschlossen...

      Wer weiß, vielleicht kreuzen sich unsere Wege wirklich irgendwann einmal, das wäre sehr schön...

      Liebe Grüße, Bärbel

  22. The beret is lovely. It totally fits its inspiration. Your creation is extraordinary as usual.

  23. Hi Stephanie, hmm, I thought I left you a comment earlier today, but it looks like it didn't go through. So here I go again: I love your pale pink hand-knitted cap. The pattern is so beautiful and you look simply gorgeous with it! The hyacinths are also very beautiful, they are one of my favorite spring bulbs and I really enjoy their fragrance. The old copperplate engraving looks quite exquisite. I like it very much. How nice would it be if we would live at a time where bulbs where considered gems, again? Last but not least I love, love, love the "The Spring Gatherer" doll and her fitting quilt. I find it so amazing that you are able to do all these crafty things yourself. Your are sooo... creative! Your children are also very lucky to have a mom like you that crafts things like this for them. Wishing you a nice weekend!

  24. Happy 4th birthday to dear Angélique (and how thrilled she must be with her pretty doll's quilt Stephanie)..I can imagine it was a wonderful magical day!
    Such a gorgeous new hat too lovely lady...I love the shade you have chosen (and they are definitely the prettiest of hyacinths too...I do agree they set off your hat perfectly!)
    The Spring Gatherer is beautiful and as always I love your attention to detail Stephanie...
    Happy Weekend to you and yours!
    Susan x

  25. Hello lovely Stephanie. What a gorgeous post filled with so many gorgeous things. First I love your hat and I wish I was an expedited knitter as I would waste no time knitting this gorgeous hat. A happy birthday to your beautiful anglique I hope she loves her beautiful baby doll quilt and her very pretty fleurs, what lovely gifts. Patchwork is so addictive, I'm just in the process of finishing my first quilt and already I am planning the next. Love the gorgeous and cute spring gatherer full of life and character. She most certainly brings a flavour of spring!! Wishing you a very happy weekend and yes I am considering joining in fab, shall we do it together xxx

  26. Darling friend,

    I came by very quickly yesterday, but had to dash off because we had a great deal of snow, making the morning commute to work treacherous. It took me two hours to get to class and what a slippery ride! I had seen all the lush work here, including YOUR BEAUTIFUL SELF, and wanted to come back again to properly give you my heartfelt words.

    One day, I WILL purchase one of your incredible creations. I cannot compose all my thoughts here on this small space, but I will say that the creativity that is shared here and in Blogland by those of us who want to share, is such a delight and a return to the homemade art that I believe we were meant to engage in. Your doe is beyond any expectation, and that is what I love about original art. It is UNEXPECTED, not manufactured in masses, and is rare. Her colors give me hope for the coming spring and chez nous, that could be anytime after MAY! The colors are sublime.

    AND YOU....what a beauty. I can see Angélique's great beauty in you. The soft pinks and your hair...oh dear, what a queen you are! We enjoy everything you share and your love for gardens and flowers my sweet? BRING IT ON....

    Merci Stephanie....Anita

  27. Lots of beautiful sights are to be found in this post, Stephanie! Your knitted beret's color is perfectly attuned to the fancy stitching, and you are a wonderful model. Thank you for letting us see your lovely face and that birthday bouquet in the excellent photographs.

    I thank you also for the introduction to a very intriguing book. Isn't it amazing to know that such a splendid book is now available at such an affordable price. I think that I might just have to find a spot for it on my over-loaded bookshelves...or perhaps just start another book tower!

    Now...on to The Spring Gatherer. I love the look of those long limbs, and the notion that such a beautiful doe could actually find a way to gather Springtime in January. You are the magician that has made this possible! There are so many elegant and detailed examples of needle working in this latest creation, and each one contributes to Gatherer's personality.

    Beautiful tatting! I don't think my eyes could manage tatting anymore, and remember getting caught up in unwanted knots and tangles when I tried to learn this skill from an auntie over 50 years ago. I am very impressed by the talent and care involved.

    Your miniature birthday quilt is a gem.

    I have so enjoyed this visit, Stephanie, and also thank you for your comment. xo

  28. I'm visiting via Frances' City Views, Country Dreams. Your post is like a breathe of spring air, laden with the colours that the such air would have were that possible!

  29. Happy happy day to your beautiful girl! The doe is just too special and the little patchwork quilt is more than I could ever do dearest Stephanie. As for your MT knitted hat, well it is beyond beautiful and you look absolutely striking in it, so beautiful and so talented indeed :o) thank you for sharing your wonders with us Stephanie xxx
    Ps. The exercise routine I am doing is called "insanity" from the US, I am doing it with some of the physiotherapists at work and it is a killer but you feel so good afterwards. It really suites it's name very well!

  30. How very nice to see you, Stephanie, and in such a fetching hat. The doe and quilt are also lovely, both warrant a good look to take in all the special little touches you have added to them.

    Happy Birthday to your little one.


  31. How marvelous to hear from you today dear Stephanie! Oh I don't think I can begin to explain the kind of cold we get here in the upper midwest of the USA. I never knew our country could get this cold..this is Antartic cold! We lost five school days in January due to -40F degrees. The governor shut down all the schools for fear of risking students' and staff lives in danger of being out. But things are back to "normal" now with 20+ F temps hovering now, on this first of February. I so hope that you will have a more normal winter to nourish the lovely soil of our beloved France, so that her fruits of plenty come in with lushness. Hugs to you dear friend, Anita

  32. Thanks for your lovely post, Stephanie. I can only appreciate your beautiful work and not avert my eyes :) A friend paid for me to take a lesson in tatting when I lived in upstate NY. The instructor was from England. Although I appreciated his skill and instruction and delightful accent, I utterly failed to learn to tat :( and came to absolutely appreciate the skill of those who can produce such amazing work as you shared! Happy Birthday to Angelique :) xx

  33. Dear Stephanie
    Happy day to your little one,doesn't time so fly by! The doe is so wonderful and each new make of yours is a delicious surprise......your creativity is unlimited. I can truly say there has not been one of your makes that I haven't liked.....but my own Glencalon holds a very special place in my home. So many have commented about it! That little patchwork quilt is really lovely too! It is so good to actually see you .....and you are not a bit like I imagined but better so much better. That lovely knitted beret more than enhances your colouring ...what more can I say but a great post!!
    keep well

    Amanda x

  34. The cover from A Garden of Flowers reminds me of a current appliqueing project where I am attempting to do broderie perse for the first time! Oh for many yards of delicate floral prints...
    Your exquisite knitting also motivated me to pick up needles and yarn again after too long of an absence. My dear daughter-in-law gave me a precious skein of qiviut yarn and a book on making Arctic Lace - quite a challenge for these rusty hands. Your hyacinths give me hope that it is almost Spring somewhere in the world.. The memory of how fragrant they are drifts across my snow covered landscape.

  35. What beautiful photos of you, dear Stephanie...heralding the promise of Spring!! So lovely....
    Your hands are a wonder.....little darling doe...and the beautiful beret....you are so talented....
    Wishing you a marvelous week...
    Off to catch up on your posts!
    - Irina

  36. I was eyeing that tatting and wondered if you had another talent up your sleeve we didn't know about .... :)

    May I say that you have a very beautiful complexion, Stephanie? It was so nice to see your face, and those colours just suit you. I was thinking about Mackintosh roses on my walk today (don't ask me why - there are certainly no roses to be seen in Wisconsin right now!) - so it was delighful to see them on your lovely beret. Molly Ringwald is the perfect name for that colourway!

    What a wonderful engraving that is ... and I love that a flowering bulb shows perfectly between each baluster. How fun that each purchaser was allowed to colour in the flowers to his/her taste!

    Mlle Gatherer is altogether charming. And your patchwork is delightful!

  37. dear Stephanie,
    another moment of delight as I follow your words and images from your lovely pink bonnet (you're beautiful!, and I absolutely must knit the same for myself, preferably the same colour which is most becoming) to this fascinating book (probably the most amazing ever colour book ever). And your doe ! Love these sping colours, every detail is a jewel (oh! her little bag).
    Spring is in the light around here today... with the very first snowdrops in our small garden (there will be three of them this year! I'm not a very good gardener obviously). I wish you a beautiful week. Happy birthday to sweet Angelique!

  38. Dear Stephanie

    An abundence of beautiful things for our delectation! I love your adorable hat and the hyacinths are a perfect match. The wonderful Hortus Floridus is a publication I would love to seek out. I wonder if there are any references to it in the British Library ... I have a trip to London coming up very soon:-) I shall pop back to your link in a mo'.

    As for Spring Gatherer ... just wonderful, so pretty, colourful and yes, very spring-like.

    PS Cottage Garden is now open again!

  39. You look so much like your little daughter in your pretty hat. I never noticed before.

  40. An absolutely beautiful hat, model and photos. I love the colours and how they work so well with the stone of the wall. I'm knitting a similar pattern in a pale pink for a cardigan. It will probably be finished when I'm about 90 so I should probably have gone for the hat also.

    I've picked quite a heavy book (as in the amount of pages not topic) for February so it may take me into March too.


  41. Your hat is gorgeous but alas I can't wear hats without looking like an old lady. I think your patchwork is adorable! Gina x
    p.s. I love "Pretty in Pink" too!

  42. So nice to see YOU Stephanie! Love your hat and the pretty colour, it really suits you. And your Doe is incredible. I love her to bits! Have a lovely end of the week....Mel x

  43. oh goodness gracious, how lovely! i LOVE your pink hat and i truly hope you believe in imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, since i have to make it now too. it's adorable, and scottish! perfect to wear on my upcoming trip to edinburgh and the shetland islands!!
    and the doe with her sling bag, oh my gosh :)

  44. p.s. LOVE your coat and sweater too!

  45. Your stitching is soo beautiful. What delightful figures you make, they are so magical. The quilt is a huge success don't you think. I love the fabric choices you have made and the embellishments have really inspired me as a way to finish off my own William Morris quilt. Its such a unique idea. Happy stitching. PJane.xxx

  46. I'm so glad you visited my blog, so I found yours! The beret and your patchwork and mouse are so pretty.I'm looking forward to reading through more of your posts.Our garden is a bit battered by storms,rabbits (ours!) and the wet weather, so I need some inspiration for planting and something to look forward to.

  47. Your blog is beautiful! I love all your work, you have so much talent! The photos are gorgeous too!
    New Follower.

  48. Oh Stephanie my friend, how enchanted am I to see your visit early this morning. It is another dreadfully cold day,making everyone fussy and not wanting to go outside, including ME! My dear teenage students are trudging along with me, and we are waiting for warmer weather. But you know what? Seeing your visit and kind comments really made MY DAY!

    Oh this art of ours; whatever we do, whether it's sewing, crocheting, knitting, writing a dissertation about our passions, poetry, music.....it is what we LIVE FOR and make a living for. Enjoy your inspiration my friend, and from me to you, I wish you a HAPPY VALENTINES DAY, forever, and ever and ever.......

  49. Thank you for this nice post ... and smiling (for no obvious subject)!


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