Northern Ornaments

Various types of Whitework embroidery can be found in many cultures. Needlework may display different historical influences and events, unveiling the significant periods of nations “stitched” onto the big canvas of their lives. The history of one famous craft kept in Russia (dated the beginning of the 18th century) that somehow reminds Reticella, Hardanger, needle-lace, pulled-thread embroidery is very special to me. 

Embroidery lace table runner is on the table

Krestetskiy stitch is the traditional way of textile decoration where the key elements are embroidered on a cotton or linen net, with cotton or linen threads by hand. Some parts are cut out and after that, the holes are filled with stitched motifs: spider, twist, twig, etc. The geometrical ornament consists of many elements which are quite simple to process, but together they make an impression that the piece is made of snowflakes and stars placed in the squares of the net. 

pulled-thread embroidery in the process of makinga design for pulled-thread embroidery

This type of whitework embroidery was typical for Northern regions in Russia. There is one more type of it - Chkalov guipure, it is quite alike the Novgorod tradition of embroidery, though they have some difference: while Krestetskiy (Novgorod) stitch is a variation of pulled thread technique, Chkalov guipure is made on a crocheted net that reminds a net of a fisherman, however, the embroidery stitches and the designs are quite similar.

the trace sun beams leave going through the needle-lace work

In the ornaments of Krestetskiy stitch or Novgorod guipure, many elements remind the symbols of pagan times, where the key elements of the design were the images of the Sun, a big silhouette of a woman ore a mother (an almighty creature, which gives life, protects, nourishes and soothes), a bird (symbolised transition and change), a symbol of tree (like the tree of life), flowers (symbolize children), etc. 

stitching the needle-lace design

In my family, the tradition of embroidery made on a net was kept by my great-grandmothers who used to make linen towels, blankets, curtains, tablecloths. They stitched along the base for the design, cut-out the parts need to be see-through and filled them with tiny stitches. I remember them, by their nets the embroideries on curtains kept the magic of the early morning light – announcing the coming of the day, letting the sunbeams go thought to play on my cheeks, pillow, blanket and to disappear reaching the rug, reminding of the time to get up. In my early childhood I used to spend much time with my grandmothers I treasure these memories of that time. 

the table set served with needle-lace table runner

When I see the magic patterns of white stitched lace, I remember the time spent at my great grandmother' country house, the sound of an old pendulum clock that breaks the silence of my bedroom, each knock echoes the steps coming up the porch from the outside, the familiar pace enters the corridor. My eyes are closed so far, but I feel the morning light murmuring me to wake up. The smiling sunbeam goes through a small window leaf, touches the folds of the curtains, playfully jumps from the tiny holes of the embroidered mesh, sliding on to my pillow. I do not sleep, but keep the eyelids closed basking in the warmth of the down blanket. The blanket catches the sunbeams after they jump off from my cheek. The beams dance on the white linen surface, transferring the magical patterns of the embroidered curtains. The sunbeams are in a hurry, they want me to wake up, they plunge into the rows of the hand-woven rug and disappear under the bed. 

the close-up of needle-lace design

The pendulum clock announce the time to get up, right after comes the sound of approaching steps that slow down on reaching the door. The door opens. There enters grandma, bringing the smell of something very delicious cooked in the kitchen, she says: ”Good morning, my darling!”. I am around 5 or 6 y.o. and the time for me moves slowly, timidly opening new things, tastes, places in a distant land at my grannie’s house, is a magical adventure full of amazing findings and play of imagination. Lots of years have passed, but in my memory these images are safe. My memory is a place where my great grandparents are living, my granny does ordinary thing: stitching her handwork, baking the most delicious bread and making the tastiest cottage cheese I have ever eaten. Herbs from their garden in a teacup, ”snowflakes” in the window in the midsummer “snowflakes” on the dinner table- all that could be a kind of writer’s sketches for a short story, was so magically real in the childhood. 

the table served with needle-lace table runnerthe table served with needle-lace table runner

My mother is also a person who strengthened my passion for embroidery of that kind when I was a teenage, teaching me to use the puled-thread technique and I found this way of textile design quite interesting, though as a teenager, I preferred bright colours and postponed practising embroidery on a net. Now it is my of my favourite type of whitework, and I like that it may be used not only as whitework embroidery for some home decoration. The net can be formed (pulled out) on coloured linen and the surface can be embroidered the same or different colour threads. It gives numerous ways to decorate a simple piece of cloth and make a fashionable outfit, accessories with a remarkable accent.

the table served with needle-lace table runner