I could write for several weeks about our trip to Ukraine, but it’s time to move on. I have a few final things to share, and have saved the best for last!
At one of our early stops, we were greeted with the traditional gift of bread on an embroidered bread cloth, but our director was absent having a last minute rehearsal with the soloists and we were a smaller group being welcomed. I took advantage of the smaller group to ask one of our interpreters if I could have a closer look at the bread cloth, with his assistance for the conversation.
He escorted me to the smiling young woman in her Ukrainian costume, also heavily embroidered, introduced me and asked if I could look at the bread cloth. She was puzzled, but said yes. So as I was looking at it, I explained to the interpreter that I was an embroidery designer and teacher in the US, and thus very interested in the Ukrainian embroideries. He spoke to the young woman for a bit, then she gave me the bread cloth! I tried to refuse it, but they insisted that I take it! I was completely overwhelmed, and accepted the gift.
The cloth I was given was a bit different from the others that I saw, in that it is not cross stitch, but a long stitch with some withdrawn thread work. This is one end; the other end is identical. The thread used appears to be a wool or wool blend, on an evenweave fabric that I haven’t counted to determine count. The thread is a single strand, similar in weight to Caron Collection’s Impressions, solidly dyed.
What really impressed me was the back:
It’s very difficult to see where the threads start and stop. The stitch used is not a satin stitch, because there is not as much on the back as on the front. The back is almost as beautiful as the front!
The withdrawn thread work is simple withdrawing of the horizontal threads, and lacing of the vertical threads, but it is a beautiful pattern and very effective. And the sides are a simple turned hem, with a fringed finish at the bottom. My bread cloth is not as elaborate as some of the ones I saw, but I treasure it because it was a gift and because it is a bit different.
I regret that I never saw a shop that sold supplies the whole time we were in Ukraine; I would have loved being in a needlework shop! Perhaps if I get to go back I can make that a priority. When our trip was planned I did not know if I would get to see any Ukrainian embroidery, but I was overjoyed to see it from the time we landed until we left.
Ukraine is a lovely country, with lovely people. It was the experience of a lifetime for Rod and me, one we will treasure forever.