Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg is an area situated in the North East of Hungary bordering Romania and The Ukraine. This area has been well known for cross stitch embroidery for well over 100 years. A whole cottage industry grew up around producing embroidered items for home and abroad, particularly to Germany.
Designs were originally stitched in red with a little black. With growing export to Germany they started to embroider in blues. The most famous patterns were the cockscomb, also known as the wolves pawprint.
They embroidered peacocks to symbolise beauty and pigeons or doves to symbolise happiness.
People knew these patterns by heart. If the pattern was to be embroidered by another family the pattern would be transferred to something like trracing paper or greaseproof paper. They embroidered with the help of a small mirror. Often the woman of the family would start a piece and embroider one stem of each cross stitch. Each family made 2 or 3 patterns. The children would come home from school and the husband from working and they would embroider the cross to the stems already embroidered by the woman of the house. They embroidered on cloth that they wove themselves.
Counted cross stitch require that for each stitch the number of threads being embroidered over are counted.These days they embroider on a cloth with a slightly more open weave, this way the threads are easier to see. It is said that in the old days the cloth woven in this area was some of the most even and skillfully woven in the land. The even weave of the cloth was important whe used as a base for counted cross stitch.
This area of Hungary is quite distinctive with some beautifully kept small villages. The embroidery heritage is quite clear when you visit the villages in this area, one can still see women sitting outside houses chatting and embroidering. Churches are decorated with embroidery.
Thank you to Eniko for educating me on the history of Hungarian textile craft. Her knowledge on the subject really is amazing.