Russian Embroidery

From 2000 to 2001 my family and I had the privilege and good luck to live in Moscow, Russia while my husband worked for an oil and gas company. We lived in a community called Rosinka where we had a small townhouse and access to the community’s pool, bowling alley, grocery store etc. The girls were driven to the Anglo American School of Moscow every day in a dedicated bus and they soon made friends with their classmates.

So that left me – what did I do while all the others were busy? I joined the International Women’s Group of Moscow and through this organisation I signed up for a Russian Embroidery class. I can’t remember her name but this lovely older Russian woman taught us first how to make a tray cloth in what she called Russian embroidery, but which I have since discovered actually incorporates needlelace, Hardanger, drawn thread work and Reticella among other techniques.

Fast forward to 2019

Unfortunately, we had to leave Moscow before I had a chance to finish the tray cloth. The teacher gave me a couple of quick lessons on how to finish it along with some hand written notes (in Russian). A friend also gave me her notes for the project along with some diagrams for the stitching. The project was always in the back of my mind to finish but it languished until 2019 when I became determined to finish it. I researched many different forms of drawn thread work and decided that I should really make sample squares to ensure the patterns worked before I worked on the actual piece.

Square 1 and 2

I have to make seven squares of different sizes. Squares one and two were already cut so I had to work within the bounds of an eight by nine grid. I could follow the original instructions for Square 2 but for number 1 I had to research a pattern that would work for the small size grid.

When I was happy with the samples I worked the squares on the actual tray cloth and am happy enough with the result (more pictures later).

Square 3

Square three was already cut as well but featured a larger grid with bigger holes. Luckily, the yellow squares were in place and I had a great diagram for the background stitching (in green). Having worked on a couple of other samples before Number 3 I had also figured out how to make whipped wheels so I decided to work on the original piece for Square 3.

Squares 4 to 7

The final four squares have all been researched and sampled I had great fun stitching them during lockdown 2020). With a slight adjustment in the size of number seven I think I am good to start drawing threads and stitching them in place on the original tray cloth. I will probably have to measure and remeasure in order to get the grids in the correct position but I have learned to be a lot more daring in my approach after stitching in RSN classes for nearly four years.