Saturday, September 21, 2013

Ukrainian Embroidery

Every Monday morning I get an email from Nordic Needle and there is usually a story about one of their customers.  In May of this year the featured stitcher hailed from Astoria, Queens, and talked about the classes she takes at the Ukrainian Museum in NYC.  I was very intrigued - my father grew up right down the block from the museum.  Although he attended the Polish Church with his father, his mother and sisters attended the Ukrainian Church.  But they all spoke Ukrainian at home.

I actually got started in counted cross stitch while in college because I had found a piece of cross stitch that my grandmother had done and I tried to replicate the pattern.  So I signed up for the embroidery class that started last Saturday.

It is an interesting class, running from 1:00 to 3:30.  There are about 15 women in the class but it is more of a gathering than a formal class.  There were about eight beginners at the class and the teacher sat with us one-on-one.  We are working on a band sampler.  The more advanced students are working on a number of different projects using other techniques, including cutwork.

We beginners are using DMC floss (four strands) on 25-count Lugana.  I have to admit I am having a very hard time with it.  Not because it's difficult to learn - the first class was all running stitches (essentially darning patterns).  But we are working "in hand" without a hoop or frame, the threads are not separated and then recombined, and we are not using a laying tool.  This is not how I'm used to stitching!

I will have to look closely at the teacher's sample to see what the threads look like because I can't decide whether I should just shrug and accept that the stitching is not going to look like I'm used to seeing; determine that the final product when done expertly looks like something that I should strive to achieve; or secretly work a second piece at home on a frame with a laying tool (or maybe just #8 pearl cotton). 

In the meantime, here is my progress from the first class.  We are using DMC 310 (black) and 321 (red) which are traditional colors in Ukrainian embroidery.

Progress after Class #1
The first band (at the top) is a simple over/under three threads and the second band is over/under two threads. The third band is a "vee" with the red thread woven through it on the surface.

Teacher's Sampler
I'm not really sure how many bands we complete during this eight-week session.  I think it depends on how fast one stitches.  Many of my fellow beginners are not needleworkers so we all had a different number of bands completed by the end of the class.  My homework was to complete the fifth band although we didn't start it in class.  The teacher told me to go ahead and take a picture of the band so that I could figure it out at home. While I had the camera out I took pictures of the rest of the teacher's sampler.  This is obviously the area we started working.

And here are some of the other areas.  While the traditional red and black are my favorite colors, I am itching to work some of those colorful areas!


Today was our second class so I stitched some more bands.  These were, I think, a little easier to maintain tension as they are satin stitch.

Class 2 Progress
Class 2 Close-up of Stitching

I am working on ecru fabric although it looks more white in these two photos.  I have to figure out the best place to photograph my stitching.

Until next time, happy stitching!

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