Sunday 23 December 2012

La Vie En Rose

Dear readers,
On the Winter Solstice, which also happens to be our ninth wedding anniversary, I had a few hours of peace and a burning desire to sew a Christmas gift for Angélique.  I simply wanted to create something from my heart and to embrace its imperfections.  Noëlle The Cat was born.  She is made from a beautiful piece of raspberry pink linen and a tiny piece of festive fabric with candy canes, snowmen, gingerbread men, and hearts.  I embroidered a smattering of holly leaves on her legs and arms and sewed a lot of love into her simple clothes.  I hope Angélique smiles when she unwraps her.*

Merry Noëlle testifies to the fact that my heart is lighter these days.  Gaspard our dog has fully recovered and is back to his usual blithe self.  Every day as I watch him wolf down his food I smile and count my blessings.  Yesterday as we took him in to have his stitches removed I thanked the vet for the remarkable work he had performed.  Such joy and just in time for Christmas too!
The whole family save Mickaël has been sick over the past week or so.  Now we are all better.  The preparations for the festive days to come have fallen into place quietly with the minimum of fuss.  Glitter has been painted on stars, felt tree decorations stitched by a very patient Tristan, and pheasant and red cabbage have been purchased for Christmas Day together with a Bûche de Noël.  On Christmas Eve we will eat oysters and sip champagne.  My brother arrives with his guitar on Christmas Eve so there will be music to accompany our laughter over the next few days.
I have been knitting Turkish Delight in quiet corners and tranquil spare moments.
Simple and elegant Beck with a little twist!  If you are in need of a peaceful knitting pattern this holiday I urge you to choose this one by Dani Sunshine.  Those sweet little cables, which are clevery mirrored on the cuffs, were my first attempt at cable knitting and delightfully easy.  You could choose a second colour to weave in and out of those cables for a little extra fun and texture.  The pattern is crystal clear and its designer a pleasure to communicate with over on Ravelry.  Should you have any questions she will return like a shot with friendly advice. 

Madelinetosh DK in the Fragrant colourway.  Every time I wear this I smell lush pink roses and see glistening blocks of rose-flavoured Turkish Delight (Loukoum) which bring me back to my years in Greece.  Those were happy times during which many kilos of Loukoum were enjoyed! 

You will find my Ravelry notes for Turkish Delight here.

And now my friends I will leave you to enjoy your fesitivies.  May your hearts be full and your Christmas peaceful.  I wish you happiness and simple pleasures.  I will raise a glass to you all for your support and gentle words over this past year and I will continue to post during 2013 in my usual sporadic fashion ;-)  I have a few dreams and projects to share with you.

Love and cheer to you ALL!

A bientôt,


* Whilst the pattern is my own, Noëlle The Cat was totally inspired by the work of the Hungarian artist, Eszterda.

Wednesday 12 December 2012


My heart is full of gratitude for ALL your support.  If the truth be told I had been feeling fearful for days wondering how I could help Gaspard as I watched him grow listless.  It was too much to bear. I wish I could thank each and every one of you personally for your kindness!
It was during the third consultation in less than six days that a barium test was finally performed on Gaspard which revealed he had an obstruction in his intestine.  Yesterday the vet extracted a peach stone during surgery.  I recall now that Angélique went through a phase last June of eating mountains of peaches and, well, she must have thrown a peach stone in the flowerbed which Gaspard recently dug up.
Gaspard is being kept under observation until Friday - oh my goodness what a l-o-n-g wait this is - and today the vet told him he was being fed intravenously and seemed alert and as well as possible.  The news is good but I daren't get too excited yet. Last year's sorrow has made me cautious.  Please may I ask you to send another prayer for Gaspard?
Yes indeed my heart has been full of Gaspard these past days. Today the sky is forget-me-not blue and the grass is sparkling white.  There are oat and white chocolate cookies baking in the oven and Tristan and I are finally turning our attention to Christmas decoration making.  But Gaspard is always with me.  Yes, that is a special kind of love indeed and I am hoping he will make a full recovery and be back to his usual adorable, bouncy, irritating self!
Love to you all,
ps I'm sorry for the hazy picture  but it captures Gaspard's expression perfectly.
Monday evening edit:  Gaspard is doing amazingly well!  The vet did a wonderful job and we welcomed back a surprisingly bouncy dog on Thursday evening.  It was simply wonderful.  The best thing has been watching him throwing himself on his food again.  Oh yes indeed, Gaspard is one hungry dog now.

Monday 10 December 2012


Dear readers,
Please, please send a hug and a prayer to our sweet Gaspard for Tuesday morning. He is undergoing surgery as he has an obstruction in his intestine caused by something he ate a while ago.  We are worried sick about him and I have barely been able to eat.
I'm sorry to be so miserable but I cannot, like many others, bear to see an animal suffering.
A bientôt,

Friday 7 December 2012


Dear readers,
This exquisite pair of slippers, one of the many products of Lea Stansal's gloriously whimsical imagination, reminds me of the novel The Snow Child - yours is on its way, Melissa - which so many of you have read with great delight.  As I have already confessed I am a winter child at heart.  It is a season which encourages you to become a good beauty hound and gently compels us to enjoy the novelty of seeing everything from a different perspective, the twigs glazed with ice, the snow glittering like diamond dust. There is always pleasure to be found somewhere among the leavings; remains that tell a story.  The Alaskian storyteller, Eowyn Ivey, does just that: she spins a fairytale from the harsh reality of winter in Alaska and makes it into something beautiful.  She has a talent which leaves me in awe.
In The Children's Book (the only book which carried me through those first nauseous months of pregnancy three summers ago) A.S. Byatt writes:
"Olive was sometimes frightened by the relentlessly busy inventiveness of her brain.  It was good and consoling that it earned money, real bankable cheques in real envelopes.  That anchored it in the real world.  And the real world sprouted stories wherever she looked at it. [...] Yesterday's events had also transmuted themselves into story-matter, almost as fast as they had happened.  She had watched Anselm Stern's version of E.T.A. Hoffmann's tale with glee - her response to any performance, any work of art, was the desire to make another, to make her own.  She was in that world, watching, not in flat dailiness.  The gliding movement of the puppets, the glitter of the limelight on their silk organza dresses, the half-visible strings, like spider-silk, had transmuted into other figures in other lights in her head, almost before they had performed their own sequence of movements."
I have always admired a storyteller.  I may be a humble writer - a garden aesthetics journalist to be precise - but I am incapable of threading words together to make up a story.  I put down facts on paper, simple as that.  And what about those marvellous souls who snuggle down with their children in bed and make up stories in their head?  Oh my, I wish I could do that!  Tell me please, do you have that talent?
As you have all noticed I have temporarily put down my writer's pen and taken up my needles and thread these past few months.  The constant clamour of my spirited Angélique has made it more tricky to form (halfway intelligent) sentences but fairly easy to stitch. I may not be able to write tales but I do enjoy making up characters with a little fabric and yarn.
Most days I am glad to embrace the commonplace in the knowledge that it counterbalances a desire to keep company with my flights of fancy. The imagination is a powerful ally and an alluring friend and this week I have wished to part company with the mundane and its ceaseless sermons to keep one's feet on the ground. This character, Mademosielle Butterfly, has been living in my head for a while now (she is destined for a little girl named Matilda) and has kept me cheerful through the symphony of hacking coughs and broken nights.  When I look at her I think of skies in spring and holding a small, blue butterfly gently in my hands and watching it flutter.  As I stitched the last piece of lace on her skirt I realised with contentment that the interludes between coughing fits had lengthened, that my children had rosy cheeks one more. and that the sodden winter garden was filled with dazzling sunlight . Thank you Mademoiselle Butterfly for carrying me through a tricky week.
 And thank you too to Silke Leffler whose illustrations gladden my heart and inspire me.  If you are looking for good reading matter for Christmas presents may I suggest these two books?
I bought these for myself a while back but have watched with a happy heart Angélique fall in love with the pictures and the tales.  The Flower Ball is a clever tale of acceptance which uses rich imagary and words. Why Is The Snow White is an imaginative tale which celebrates snow and the sweetness of sharing.  You may find them both here and here.
And finally, please could you all gently wag a finger at dear Gaspard! 
 He turned one on the first day of Advent and spent the entire night vomiting his first birthday bone. Poor love! 'No more bones', admonished the kind vet the following morning. For the past few days he will only eat and drink water from my hands and turns his charming nose up at his dog bowl! The vet yesterday advised me to stop handfeeding him. Is my dear dog becoming a drama queen?
A bientôt,
Edit: I am wondering about stepping away from this space after Christmas...

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