Thursday, March 13, 2014

Cross stitch embroidery from North East Hungary

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.

A few summers ago I visited Beregdaroc, Takos, Csaroda, with a friend, there is a piece on her blog here

Thank you to Eniko for educating me on the history of Hungarian textile craft. Her knowledge on the subject really is amazing.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Vintage Block Printed and Resist Dyed Indigo Skirts

These wonderfully pleated skirts used to be worn in areas of Hungary and Slovakia. The fabric was dyed in workshops, the knowledge and techniques  first bought to these areas by Germans.The pattern was applied using hand made wooden blocks dipped in a wax like substance. The blocks themselves were made from metal strips and nail, shaped and arranded on  a wooden base.  The fabric was the dyed in large vats of indigo dye and the the wax removed exposing the block printed pattern. Most of the skirts areidigo and the base backgroud colour (usally ecru). Some have more than one added colour, printing in more than one colour required a high degree of skill

The Hungarian skirts tend to be a darker shade of indigo and made of cotton, there is often a red strip at the base of the reverse side of the skirt.  The Slovakian skirts sometimes have  a number of different shades and sometimes yellow and greens. The skirts were pleated  by hand, some of these skirts are made from as much as 7 linear metres of fabric. There was usually an unpleated panel at the front of the skirt, over which traditionally an apron would have been  worn.
These pleated skirts were stored wrapped in fabric  and tied up to preserve the pleats.

We have a number of these skirts for sale here on our website