Thursday, 18 December 2014

Sugar Plum

 Dear friends,
The hours of daylight are at their shortest as we approach the winter solstice and again, as with each passing year, I find that "carpe diem" and "wonder" become two faces of the same thought.   The children and I feed off each others' desire for enchantment and, in our own rough and ready way, we cultivate delight with true hearts and giddy minds.  I observe them from the corner of my eye endlessly drawing, colouring, cutting and see that their need to embellish the everyday humdrum mirrors my own. It's a time for giving and I have lost count of how many handmade cards Angélique has gifted her fellow classmates.  On complimenting Angélique's maternelle teacher on her impressive array of sparkly pullovers this week, she retorted that the short and often grey December days begged light in any shape or form, even in a handful of glitter.  She is right, of course, but in my mind the bleak weather makes little difference and, when the mornings are frosty and the late-rising sun bright, I watch the pinks, mauves and grey of the winter sky unfold behind the intricate shadow puppet trees and imagine frost-flowers, silently unfolding before me on the windowpanes.
I also love the day dawning in heavy freezing fog when the garden seems to float and everything turns to silver.  I'm almost disappointed when the swirling mists clear and daylight invades once more but I leave the Christmas tree's twinkling lights on and recall the colourful candles poised heavily on my childhood tree waiting to come alive with the strike of a match. The children and I are praying for snow.  We crave the peace and silence it grants.  I'm knitting a stole with a yarn named Snowbound in the hope that the températures will drop and our world will be white once more.  The yarn refects the exact grey of a heavy winter sky.
I have knit another hat; a second Rosewater by Tin Can Knits, this time with Madelinetosh's Sugar Plum colourway.  If many of us remain unsure of the original definition for 'sugar plum' it has with time crystallised into the definition of the excitement and childlike wonder of Christmas.  In the 1600s, as 'sugar plum' passed into general usage, it came to have its own assoiated meanings quite apart from fruit.  If your mouth was full of sugar plums, it meant that you spoke sweet, and possibly deceitful, words.  If you stuffed another's mouth with sugar plums, that meant a sop or bribe which served to shut someone up.  The Oxford English Dictionary also spells out that throughout the centuries 'plum' came to mean something desirable.  Surely, that is what this precious period of Advent spells out too?  Children's desire mingled with the hope of adults accompanied by a resounding refrain of 'Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all Men'.
All the pictures of Paris above are taken from our old and very beautiful neighbourhood; la Galérie Vivienne in central Paris.  The picture below, fellow knitters and teashop enthusiasts, is the one and only L'Oisive Thé, situated in the 13th arrondissement in Paris, which I finally set foot in for the first time fortnight ago.  Vibrant, cheery, stuffed with fabulous yarn, books and teas, suffice to say I have been dreaming of this street corner of inspiration ever since.  Aimée, the American/French owner holds the most amazing workshops on a regular basis.  I have watched, over on Instagram, with fascination the visits of designers Gudrun Johnston and Stephen West unfold and plan to be part of the fun in 2015.  Go take a look; it will bring a smile to your faces.
I have also included two hares - Miss Hyacinth and Edmund Elf - as there have been a lot of hares being created behind the scenes in preparation for Christmas.  My notes for my Sugar Plum hat may be found here.  Mickaël kept laughing at me whilst he took the pictures above as it appeared I was praying to the baubles.  I see his point!
I wonder what you are hoping for during this last week before Christmas?
A bientôt,


  1. Beautiful images and a beautiful post Stephanie, you certainly brighten up a dull day, that's for sure!! :)
    V x

  2. I never get bored at seeing your pictures. They make my heart smile. Plum is a strange fruit to me and strange color too but I like how you have given it a life of its own with your beautiful creations and prose. For Christmas, I hope for peace for my mind and for the Earth as well. Have a wonderful weekend!

  3. Dearest Stephanie,
    I've just got in from work and am sat here with a cup of tea in my hands reading your beautifully written post, and the photographs awwwww, its all bought a smile to my face and made my heart glow on this dreary winters day.
    Thank you dear lady xxxx

  4. Another beautiful post Stephanie -- you're always a bright spot in my blog line-up. And your bunnies are just too sweet -- and beautiful. Love the elf!

  5. You look gorgeous in your sugar plum hat! :) You do look as though you're making a wish holding the baubles. Maybe you did and it will come true!
    I love the photos of Paris, I still have daydreams about looking at the shops in St Germain-des-Prés. I hope to go back again one day. xx

  6. Merry Christmas to you and your family. One day I'll get to Paris to explore her beauty and quirkiness.

  7. a little prayer to the bauble fairy might be just the thing...bet she has an 'in' with the snow queen! merriest of christmases.....revel in the magic!

  8. What a lovely post, a lovely hat, fun hares, a little history and a smidgen of Paris. From Australia, I thank you.

  9. I am enchanted.

    YOU are beautiful, the sugar plum fairy has blessed you with a beauty that never stops, Stephanie. Your choice of colors, words, images and then of course, ART that you share is a fairy tale. Thank you for a beating heart that keeps time with that of your children. They sometimes are ones that lead us adults back to where we belong. Those rabbits...I bet you cannot keep up with the orders. I still want one one day, and every new color you introduce makes me want that exact one!

    Thank you for posting again. I sure miss you when you are gone. HAPPY CHRISTMAS to all and those photos of Paris; I've been to those places!!!

    Gros bisous mon amie, Anita

  10. I love your tam. It is a lovely color and repesemts sugar plums well. I wish I lived in your corner of the world.

  11. Your beautiful stitching inspires me, Stephanie! I am knitting a simple scarf I hope to have ready by Christmas. Thanks for another lovely post. Wishing happiness to you and yours xx

  12. Such a gorgeous post today my friend, such beautiful words twirling about painting a picture of a beautiful Holiday Season. i love your hat and all your beautiful Hare's. Hugs to you, Meredith

  13. lovely hat in a pretty color, looks so lovely on you! Your rabbits are so cute especially the "elf" Have a lovely Christmas!!

  14. Such beautiful images you give us dear Stephanie, of hares, baubles and scenes from Paris. I love reading your words, they are enchanting, you have delighted us with tales of sugar plums, the beauty of your mornings, evenings and winter light, I hope you get some snow soon.
    I love your new hat, the colour is so pretty.
    Wishing you and your family a beautiful Christmas!
    xoxoxo ♡

  15. Happy,merry, peaceful Christmas once again! Your hat is perfect!

  16. Stephanie, what fun it has been to take the time (in this very busy week) to have a leisurely look at your beautiful post. You always find a way to have a unique take on the season in which we all are living, in our various parts of the world.

    Your sugar plum hat is lovely. It's interesting that you used the Child size, and not surprising that you would choose the delicous color and softness of the Madeleinetosh yarn for your needles. The photographs of you in that cap, with the baubles are splendid!

    I would love to visit that intriguing little corner of Paris. Perhaps 2015 will find me visiting L'oisive The.

    Your new well-dressed hare creations are superb. I've also been working on many projects in the past few months, and have today realized that not all of them will be finished in time for Christmas gifts. They will have to be New Year's Gifts, and I actually feel quite comfortable with tha trealization. Or is it seasonal exhaustion suggesting an alibi?

    Wishing you and your family a joyeux Noel.


  17. Stephanie, you have such a beautiful way with words! Your sugar plum fairy is so gorgeous! Your two hares are amazing! I think I am more partial to Edmund. :-)
    What a fantastic store! Tea and yarn in the same store! !!!
    I hope that you have a very lovely day!

    Love, Heather
    sweetpickle02 on instagram :-)

  18. A beautiful post as always my friend. I am hoping for snow (unlikely) and calm in the midst of all that life has thrown at my family lately (even more unlikely).

    Your Rosewater is so pretty :)

  19. Dear Stephanie,

    I think we like the same sort of things about December and Christmas :-)! Sometimes I wish I could be a child again, if only for a short while to enjoy the simple pleasures more that Christmas has to give.

    You have a beautiful way with words and I can almost envisage your daughter Angelique making her Christmas cards :-). I made my own cards too until I was in my twenties, but after that I somehow did not take the time....

    Your new hat looks beautiful on you! I love those faded pinks, greens and blues! Enchanting photo's of Paris too. Love the one of the small alley with the fairy lights.

    Wishing you and your family a magical Christmas time!


    Madelief x

  20. I am so sorry to intrude upon your blog with this tragic news but I thought you would want to know, if you don't already. There is very sad news about Vanessa Cabban. She very sadly died in a train accident. I know you were a reader of her blog which she used to write, just as I and many others were. I read a tribute to her here. http://planetpenny.co.uk/2014/12/22/vanessa-cabban-a-tribute/ She will be much missed as a very special person, always sweet and sensitive.

    1. Dear Sara,

      I am deeply grateful to you for taking the time to write this thoughtful message here today. Thank you for letting me know. I found out this tragic, hard-to-grasp news a few days ago on Instagram thanks to Lisa at Bobobun. I am quite certain you feel the loss of such a remarkable and generous-hearted person as keenly as I do. I had the most enormous affection and admiration for Vanessa, not just for her artistic talents but for her kindness. Truthfully, I feel the life and colour had drained away from her following her divorce. I am saddened to know that she did not experience the joy she truly deserved.

      Thank you Sara.

      Stephanie x

  21. Such a beautiful post as ever dear Stephanie...It's always a joy to visit your magical corner of the world x
    Sending wishes for a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your lovely family,
    Susan x
    P.S I love your new hat and I'm going to email you later! x

  22. I love reading your beautiful posts, they are always so wonderful!! This time of year always make me think of the enchantment of my childhood and I try to keep that alive through my miniature world :)
    I adore Miss Hyacynth and Edmond Elf :) As always they are adorable :) And that hat you have made is amazing!!
    I am wishing you and all your family a wonderful, joyful and enchanted christmas ♥ ♥
    Vicky ♥ ♥

  23. Thank you, chere Stephanie, for bringing so much magic, joy, beauty, and kindness to our world... :)
    A Very Merry Christmas to you!
    Thank you so much for leaving me a sweet message....
    Love and many blessings,
    ~ Irina

  24. Stephanie,
    How well you say the things my heart feels but often cannot put into words.
    Merry holiday season. Grace and blessings on your new year.
    with a full heart,

  25. Liebe Stephanie,
    Rosewater steht schon so lange auf meiner Wunschliste, Du siehst in diesen Mützen ganz bezaubernd aus!
    Ich wünsche Dir und Deinen Lieben auch ein wundervolles, kreatives, fröhliches, spannendes, aber vor allem gesundes neue Jahr! Mittlerweile müsste ich auch für uns einen Schneetanz aufführen...mal sehen, was ich machen kann. ;-)

    Ganz liebe Grüße, Bärbel

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