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VYSHYVKA NATION: Khmelnytskyi region

Cross-stitch is a type of needlework, the art of which is rooted in the era of ‘primitive cultures’, when people created clothing from animal skins, hemp, flax, and other natural fibers, using stone needles threaded with wool and even hair to pull it all together.

Today, we have much more at our fingertips: we can embroider with thread, wool, silk, gold, silver, using coins, beads of all sorts, even pearls and semiprecious stones. Masters in embroidery will tell you there are about 250 types of embroidery stitches, based on 20 or so techniques.

In Ukraine, each region had its own colour scheme, style, and symbols emblematic of that region. Of course, techniques were so specific that you could tell which city, and sometimes even village a person came from, just from the embroidery on their clothing.

The art of embroidery in Ukraine is called вишивка, or vyshyvka, and girls from a very early age were taught to embroider. In some areas, even men learned to love this craft. Our babucy will remember many secrets of the ancient craft. For example, threads for were dyed with only natural ingredients, such as bark, roots, leaves, vegetables, and flowers. What is really interesting is that to establish and ensure the colour did not fade, the threads, once dyed, were baked in rye dough.

Starting off on our cultural journey of vyshyvka, we travel to Khmelnytska oblast. Within the ornaments of Podillian embroidery, one colour, usually black, often dominates, with touches of red, blue, yellow, or green. More commonly you will find single accent embroidery, such as red and black.

The most common one-color (red and black) embroidered shirts, and less often – two – or three-colors, are seen in the Khmelnytskyi region, along with its geometric designs of simple straight, oblique, broken, or jagged lines.

Our Pretty Podillka is a vyshyvanka your babushka would have sat with by the fire over an entire winter to embroider (and one did for this piece) to present to her most precious of grandchildren. Embroidered using cross-stitch technique on a material called domotkan, or homespun cotton, its geometric patterns resemble those found in Podillia, using the colours - red and black with green accent - traditional to the region. This is undoubtedly a collector's piece and one that will be cherished for generations.

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