Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Happy Easter!


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Just a quick note to wish you all a very Happy Easter! Here’s a little eye candy (to take the place of all that chocolate!) that combines a beautiful symbol of Easter with some lovely Ukrainian hand embroidery.

Ukrainian Easter Eggs and Hand Embroidery

In the photo above, you can see two elements common in the Ukrainian Easter tradition: Pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs dyed in a series of steps, using beeswax as a resist to form the designs), and a hand embroidered cloth, which is common to see lining the Ukrainian Easter basket. This photo is from flickr, used with permission. You can find the original pysanky & embroidery photo here, with information on the pysanky and the cloth featured in the photo.

In the Ukrainian tradition, the Easter basket is lined and sometimes covered with hand embroidered cloths like the one you see above. I love this tradition! It sure beats bright green plastic grass, and on two accounts: 1. It’s beautiful to see something hand made lining an Easter basket; and 2. no matter how often you sweep or how often you vacuum, you will never rid your house of every piece of green plastic grass. It never goes away.

Into the Ukrainian Easter basket goes a whole variety of things that we in America don’t usually associate with Easter baskets. We generally think candy: an abundance of chocolate and jelly beans and amorphous marshmallow shapes covered in shocking colors of sugar. In the Ukrainian Easter basket, you see all the good things to eat on Easter, much of which was absent during Lent: Paska (Easter bread), babka (a sweet yeast cake), pysanky, krashanky (dyed hard boiled eggs), salt, pepper, butter, cheese, ham, sausage, horseradish, and seeds (sunflower and poppy seeds). Lined with their beautiful cloths, the Ukrainian baskets are further decorated with willow branches and fresh flowers and taken to church to be blessed.

As far as Ukrainian embroidery is concerned, there are different styles, depending on regional preferences and traditions. If you’re interested in embroidering your own Ukrainian style Easter cloth, you can find several websites online with free Ukranian cross stitch patterns, which are often used on these types of cloths. Haftix seems to be a good source, for example. On the Ukrainian folk art website, you’ll find some stitch tutorials and some designs for Ukrainian cross stitch and nabiruvannia embroidery (designs made from counted horizontal straight stitches).

There aren’t too many current books out on Ukrainian embroidery, but if you peruse some used book sources using “Ukrainian Embroidery” in a keyword search, you can come up with a few older books still available. If you’re interested in Ukrainian whitework & drawn thread embroidery, Yvette Stanton’s book Ukrainian Drawn Thread Embroidery: Merezhka Poltavska is the definitive book on the subject.

Happy Easter to you and yours!


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(24) Comments

  1. Happy Easter to you as well. It is wonderful to see some Slavic Easter traditions appreciated. Your post comes as a great blessing to me, actually, because for many of us (Ukrainians, Poles, Russians, even Americans) Easter comes next week, so I still have time to stitch up a nice cloth for my Pascha basket! Thanks and have a wonderful day!
    – Mat. Sarah

  2. Blessed Easter to you Mary,

    Thank you for the eye candy and the history and reasons behind the Ukranian Easter basket. I am with you, a far better tradition than the sugar laden easter baskets common today (although I do love chocolate!)

    Early this morning I viewed pictures of the Pope and his attendants hoping to get some closer looks at the embroidery. Lovely, but not enough to get a good feel for it.

    Doreen from Maine

  3. Happy Easter! What beautiful stitchery. I’m a huge fan of the colorful folk embroidery from Eastern Europe.

    Re: the green Easter grass that never goes away, I’m pretty sure it mates with the leftover Christmas tree tinsel and multiplies. 😉

  4. Happy Easter to you too!

    I’m back from sunrise service and taking a small break before tackling the food preparations for our noon feast. We are hosting this year and am expecting my parents and several sibs and families.

    Love the Ukrainian Easter eggs and basket liner! A refreshing color too! This year is the first year in forever that we haven’t colored eggs. My 25 yo daughter isn’t home this year to do it! LOL! And 17yo son wasn’t interested either.

  5. G’day Mary,
    A beautiful Easter to you and your’s also. We are ‘bush’ with the Granddaughter who will be 3 this month so our Easter is new every minute.
    The Ukrainian patterns/colours are a delight. Simplicity that expands to amazing proportions, aesthetically.
    I was sorry I browsed further than the stitches page you recommended though. The ‘Back to Folk Art’ click-on at the base of that page take you to the beginning of her story in the USA. The ‘Amazing Hi Tech’ page continues it. It has left me very concerned. I don’t know what to think. I suppose the fact that embroidery, more often than not, can be an equalizer and a release is the positive side I need to dwell on.
    Thanks for the wonderful picture. I looked it up and loved the other’s there too. Not embroidery but still the better side of life, thankfully, and little animals and birds we don’t have here.
    Cheers, Kath.

  6. Happy Easter Mary! Thanks for the delightful photo of needlework & decorated eggs. What a great way to start the day–Egg-cellent!! Also, thank you for links to more patterns & info on Ukrainian embroidery–so colorful, bold & earthy. Did I notice some similarities between nabiruvannia & pattern darning (diaper patterns)? The Ukrainian version seems more substantial because the stitch includes a loop. Similar x-stitch motifs are posted at http://www.patternmakercharts.blogspot.com & others may be posted on Digital Archives. While recognizing that some motifs are ancient & that ethnicities know no boundaries, perhaps an expert on ethnic embroideries would explain how/why Ukrainian differs from Russian–each are lovely in their own way. It’s a beautiful day to enjoy needlework heritage!

  7. Wow! I’ve been thinking about pysanky all weekend long. Been years since I’ve done it, and would have to get my pen from my mother to do it, but thanks for showing it off! It’s totally an underappreciated art form.

  8. Wow. I didn’t know about this tradition. I will add this to my ever growing list of things to stitch someday. That is a clever idea. Maybe it would be a good bridal shower gift too. I have two of those coming up. hummmmmm…

  9. Happy Easter to you too!
    The Ukrainian embroidery and eggs are really beautiful. I especially find the eggs pieces of art.

    I never heard of the fake grass before. What do you do with it?
    We have easter traditions, but non with fake grass. We paint (and eat) eggs and eat chocolate eggs of course and nuts (preferably hazelnuts and walnuts) and easter bread.
    We put up an easter branch and decorate it with little wooden ornaments of colorful eggs and bunnies.

  10. May the promise & blessings of Easter be with you and your loved ones right through the year. happy Easter!…to you and all your readers on Needle n Thread.

  11. I find your daily posts a refuge on the internet. They are always filled with truly beautiful artwork, as today’s post is. It is so refreshing to be reminded of beautiful Easter traditions that don’t involve plastic or garish colors. I also happened to find this post recently, about Easter traditions in Ecuador: http://andsewitgoes.blogspot.com/2012/04/rabbits-and-eggs.html. Your post, and Mrs. Grant’s are both good reality checks, to take the time to create things that are beautiful and meaningful, things that are meant to be kept and not thrown away the next day.

    1. Hi, Jusa – thanks for the comment and the link – very entertaining!

      It’s worth noting, though, that the egg actually does have a significance, and although it might not be part of the Equadorian culture as a symbol of Easter, it is part of other cultures’ Easter symbolism, as the egg represents rebirth and new life and has been a symbol of the resurrection in many Christian cultures for centuries.

      It’s interesting to see the shift in focus from one culture to another!


  12. Hi Mary,
    Christ is risen!
    There is a company out of upstate NY that has some books and patterns that are Ukrainian. It’s called Yevshan. I have a cross stitch pattern for Pysanky with willow branches that I got from them that I plan on stitching up for next year. I am part Ukrainian descent and I bring the Easter basket to church each year. I am fortunate because we have a couple of cloths that my mother’s cousins in the Ukrainian gave to her which they made.

  13. Hello! I just discover your blog and i´m really fascinated, all this videos to learn so many stitches…it´s incredible! Thank you so much! I just love embroidery and i´m sure i´m going to visit you a lot of time… Have a nice week!

  14. Hi Mary,

    In Poland, where I come from, we have the same tradition of taking food to church on Saturday for it to be blessed. But our baskets, although also decorated are lined and covered with white cloths finished with lace border or the baskets are decorated with crochet daisies. My mum actually made two daisies like that and they were used only once a year.



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