Ukrainian Whitework

Thursday, March 31, 2022

In 2020, my embroidery guild offered a class on Ukrainian whitework: the Summer Lace pattern in all white by Terri Bay. Of course, this was well before the war occurring now. My friend, then, had recently gone to Ukraine to meet her father’s side of the family for the first time, so I knew I wanted to make her this as a token for her trip. The class was first delayed because of covid, and then I was delayed in completing it because of who knows why (I worked on it periodically for the last two years!). I finally finished it to send to her now as a gift of hope instead.

Other than my friend, my only connection to Ukraine is Tatiana Popova, whom I have written about previously. (I ordered silk ribbon from her and also completed her Letter R kit). I don’t have facebook, but a blog I follow did share a screenshot of her page, using the Letter R as a call to her current refugee status. I don’t think I can look at mine the same way now, as I will always associate it with this modern atrocity.

[ As a small bit of brightness from this heavy human condition, Ethiopia recently declared a truce, permitting humanitarian aid to enter the region in conflict. ]

Anyway, I had this post typed up already before the invasion (just waiting on finishing the project and taking photos), so I’ve decided to leave it as it was. A little precursor to life before the current tragedy, if you will.

In 2020, my guild ran a class for Ukrainian Whitework using the Summer Lace pattern in white by designer Terri Bay. I was able to attend the first meeting, but the second was cancelled due to the uncertainties of the developing covid pandemic. I found working white thread on white fabric with the need to count to be just as difficult as black on black or on teeny tiny silk gauze. I miscounted a half dozen times and had too many false starts to count. Thankfully the linen held up, and I always had clean hands.

Because the second class was cancelled, I was on my own to figure out how to do eyelets, but I eventually got there. They aren’t perfect to be sure, but that’s the beauty of handwork I suppose!

Once I was finally finished stitching the pattern, I had a big think about what to do with it, which delayed me quite a bit. My friend had asked me to “some day” make her something and this was that something (her family is from Ukraine), so I needed to decide on a real finish. Eventually, I came across a wood plaque just the right size. Many colors were imagined (and a few painted) before I settled on the simplicity of black.

Then much grumbling and more time was had until I figured out how I would put the two things together. I settled on a folded edge with buttonhole stitch, which I then cut to remove bulk on the back. But, some of the folded material covered the eyelets, making most holes black, but some were left white on white and not noticeable. That is no good. So, I stitched small swatches of black fabric where needed, which was at each corner. This gave even more bulk to the corners, so I had to balance it out with deftly cut fabric layers to make it all one thickness. I tidied it up with a nice black swatch on the backside, that was fused to black interfacing to prevent fraying. To attach it, I stitched each and everything buttonhole stitch loop down around the edge, which forced them to lay visibly, like lace edging, rather than rolling on top and going unnoticed.

The final attachment called for a drill – one hole at each corner of the wood that I could run thread through and stitch it down, and one in the middle just to be sure. I opted to not use glue because I didn’t have the appropriate kind (archival safe and for fabrics/wood).

I enjoy how the white thread’s sheen gives it a different look, depending on the angle. This project was started in October of 2020, and the fact that you’re just now hearing about it expresses quite well how much I dillydallied in its making. But it has finally been delivered, phew!

 

 

 

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