primordial stitch

The more I looked at the traditional north-Russian embroideries from the region of Karelia the more I wanted to try one of these motifs.  I decided  to weave a linen cloth for it (mainly because i couldn’t find the cloth with the right feeling – rough and soft at the same time), from the old handspun linen yarn (which I bought from a Swedish weaver, her blog is one of my favourites). Both the warp and the weft are single linen threads.

weaving this little cloth wasn’t easy, even if I painted the warp with a jelly from cooked flax seeds  to strengthen it , the last 30 cm of weaving was pain. Luckily the warp was quite short (I was surprised it lasted for more than 1m).

Traditional Karelian embroideries are done with red color on white cloth, I wanted to make mine with white thread on indigo background, don’t ask me why.

Since it was my first attempt with indigo vat , I didn’t dare to dye the whole piece, so I cut out one-third of it. And it worked quite well and fast! (I used hydrosulfit method).

the stitching technique is one of the oldest and very similar to traditional european blackwork, and on the wrong side is supposed to look exactly the same as on the right side (and no knots!)  Well, luckily  I don’t have to show the back side of my embroidery piece to anybody :-)

(for somebody really curious – this little video shows  how they do it Karelia ,the woman on video is talking about how it is important that embroidery looks exactly the same on both sides – both because while doing it you exercise your brain and because “you have nothing to hide” from the world around you – there is no back side of life)


17 responses to “primordial stitch

  1. Anne J Steves July 31, 2013 at 3:56 am

    this is really beautiful.

  2. opusanglicanum July 31, 2013 at 8:48 am

    I was taught that wen you do any sewing you shouldn’t knot the thread, but instead work it in, so I never understnad the fuss about no knots

    • Alfia July 31, 2013 at 9:48 pm

      that is because you are a professional, we are not talking at your level of embroidery here, for me – straight simple stitch is a challenge and i never new that knots were banned, always made largest and bumpiest knots!

      • opusanglicanum August 4, 2013 at 11:01 am

        the person who told me about knots was a primary school teacher when I was seven(we were using binca fabric to make cross stitch mothers day purses), other than that I’ve never had any sort of tuition, so I dont know about the professional bit…

  3. saulene July 31, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Аля, здесь тоже напишу – очень здорово получилось! И ткань, и цвет, и вышивка! )))

    Мир без изнанки )))

    • Alfia July 31, 2013 at 9:50 pm

      да ну вот у меня-то как раз изнанка огого, лабиринт Минотавра, надо подложку пришивать, чтоб не видно было :)

  4. cyndy August 2, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    What a treasure you are making! So beautiful! Being able to weave and embroider a cloth from my own homegrown, handspun linen is one of my goals! You make it look easy ;o)
    Looking forward to seeing the completed design, and thanks for posting the links!

    • Alfia August 4, 2013 at 5:12 pm

      thank you, cyndy! this is not my own handspun linen, i bought the yarn from a friendly lady-blogger. But I am on my way to our common goal – the flax in my garden is almost harvest-ready, so we will see whether it’s easy or not :)

  5. onesmallstitch August 3, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    your woven linen is absolutely beautiful, lovely indigo (and your first time). the white stitching on blue is my favorite. when I learned to stitch as a child my mother used to check the back, when I stitch now I still think of her beside me.

    • Alfia August 4, 2013 at 5:19 pm

      thank you, Jean! there is something special with blue-and-white combination, i never get tired looking at it, I have to try shibori soon! (and may be even block-printing). it’s nice to have somebody real “old-school” to learn things from, most of my textile experiments are trial and error :)

  6. maliz August 8, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    Hej Alfia,
    Internet is really wonderful, I learned about your interesting blog via mormors post and I know that I´ll come back to it.
    Wish you lots of happy weaving hours

  7. wiebe September 27, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    toll!! ich webe auch handgesponnenes Leinen, gute Idee mit gekochter Leinsaat, aber du kannst die Kette schlichten auch mit Wasser, gekochter Maisstärke und Öl, so reißt bei mir kaum ein Faden und das Webeblatt rostet nicht. gruß wiebke

  8. Anonymous October 1, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    Really beautyful embrodier and it is really inspiring to see that you weaving homespun (even if it isnt spun by you) one thread linen, it is one of my dreams to do the same! I live in Sweden and have tried to grow my own flax but on my first attempt it was not enough rettet. I have to try again some other year, meanwhile i am spinning flax taht my friends gave me. Thank you for sharing your experiences and for inspiring me :-)

    Maria from Sweden

    • Alfia October 1, 2013 at 2:20 pm

      Hej Maria och tack för din kommentär!
      I will rettle my home-grown flax next year, we’ll see how it goes,
      as I wrote somewhere – I ordered the seeds from the NordGen (former Nordic genebank) in Alnarp, 6 different sorts of flax. Not much seeds, by they all grew well.
      Good luck with your projects!

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