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Northern Ornaments

Embroidery lace table runner is on the table

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) which reminds Reticella, Hardanger, needle-lace, pulled-thread embroidery - is very special to me.

pulled-thread embroidery in the process of making

"Krestetskiy stitch" is a variation of pulled-thread embroidery traditional for northern regions of the central part of Russia. The key elements there are embroidered with cotton or linen threads by hand on a cotton or linen net. 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 details, rather simple to process, but together, they make an impression that the piece is made of snowflakes and stars, arranged in tiny squares.

a design for pulled-thread embroidery

This type of whitework embroidery was typical for the 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 differences: while Krestetskiy (Novgorod) stitch is a variation of the pulled-thread technique, Chkalov guipure is made on a crocheted net, which reminds a net of a fisherman, but 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, this tradition of embroidery was kept by my great-grandmothers. They used to make linen towels, pillowcases, curtains, tablecloths decorated with tiny squares filled with the "cotton stars". On stitching along the design, they cut out the parts that need to be see-through and, filled them with tiny chain stitches and twists. I remember them these "twists". The nets of curtain embroideries harboured the magic of the morning light. They let the sunbeams go through the stitched ornament, to sit and play on my cheeks, pillow, blanket and, to disappear on reaching the rug. In early childhood, I used to spend much time with my grandmothers, I cherish my 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 of someone entering 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 onto my pillow. I do not sleep, but keep the eyelids closed, basking in the warmth of the down blanket. The blanket catches the sunbeams, they jump off 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 announces the time to get up. Right after comes the sound of approaching steps, which 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 dear!”. I am around five years old and, the time for me moves slowly, timidly opening new things, tastes, places in a distant land at my grannie’s house. It is a magical adventure full of amazing discoveries and the play of imagination. Lots of years have passed since but in my memory these images are safe. My memory is a place where my great grandparents are living, my granny does ordinary things: stitching her handwork, loom-weaving, 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 were so magically real in the childhood.

the table served with needle-lace table runner
the 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 teenager, 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. Now, it is one of my favourite types of whitework. I like that this may be used not only for some home decoration but for clothes and accessories design too. The net can be made of coloured linen and, the surface can be embroidered with different colours of threads. This technique gives numerous ways to decorate a simple piece of cloth and make a fashionable outfit with a remarkable accent.

the table served with needle-lace table runner