Posted by: Jocelyn | November 4, 2008

More Ukrainian White work, and old age

ukrainian wip
I am so enjoying working this Ukrainian mini-sampler within my larger Whitework sampler. It is really reinforcing my love of counted embroidery. I know there are those that say counted work stifles one’s creativity, but I do not agree with that. Certainly, you know exactly where each stitch has to go, but by doing work such as this, you gain a huge understanding of how stitches work together, how the play of light on different stitches affects the look of the work, and how patterns develop. I find that I can then make up my own patterns with much more confidence and, I hope, skill.

Another advantage that this sort of work has for me, is that I actually finish the piece. So often when I make up my own design in freehand or surface stitchery, I get disillusioned with it, and give up. But with counted embroidery, including the ones I make up myself, I am much more likely to finish it because you do not see the full effect of the pattern until it is pretty well completed. I always want to keep stitching to see the complete pattern.

That said, I must tell you that these Ukrainian sections are not made up by me. I am completely developing all the other sections in my sampler, but these Ukrainian bands are taken from Pam Eaton’s book “Ukrainian Whitework“. She has researched the work and if I was to make up the bands, it wouldn’t be very authentically Ukrainian, would it?

Old Age, and Becoming Frail

Last Sunday was my Dad’s birthday; he is now 82. He is so frail now; I feel such heartache to see him like this.  He still has all his marbles, but his body is wearing out so very quickly.

 He has been living in a rest-home since July, after living with us for about 10 years. Watching him deteriorate so fast makes me feel awful – is it worse because he now lives in a rest-home and not at home? Logically, I know that isn’t true; he moved to the rest-home because he was getting so frail, so the process started before his move. But knowing something logically doesn’t always help, does it?

He is happy enough, and for that I am very very grateful. But watching him like this makes me sad, and makes me think more about my Mum, who died 25 years ago this Christmas. She didn’t get a chance to grow old (massive heart attack, at age 57, with no obvious risk factors). 

Oh dear, I had better stop now, before I get maudlin, hadn’t I.  I think will do a bit of stitching – it’s the best therapy I know.  And if I sing along to the radio, it’s even better, though anyone listening might not think so 🙂


  1. I havent tried any counted thread work, except for cross stitch – which i didnt enjoy. I really like the look of the counted thread embroidery but what stops me is not so much the stifling of creativity (and i agree with you about this – i have seen some incredibly creative counted thread work) but my slap dash approach where i find mistakes easier to hide in free hand embroidery. I am going to give it a go one day – I have even bought the linen! (i know the feeling of being disillusioned and giving up too – been there doing it right

    It is sad about your dad. My nana is 92 and moved (kicking and screaming) into a residential facility a couple of years ago. she still has her mental faculities but is blind, has crippling arthritis, cant walk etc – but the doctors tell her that her heart, lungs and vital organs all all strong. she is not happy that she is living in a state where she can no longer care for herself without help , or even read a book or watch TV
    and her body is failing her, she tells me it is time for her to die – but given the state of her health it is not likely anytime soon. sorry you probably didnt need to hear that – at least your dad is happy where he is.

    enjoy your stitching and singing. 🙂 might do the same

  2. I really like your white work. Have you ever done bobbin lacing? I wanted to get into that a while ago but it just never happened. Thanks for leaving a comment on my kitchen blog. I tried making the rice last night and I think I need to let it steam an extra 10 minutes (maybe my altitude?) but it turned out SO much better!

  3. Good to see you blogging again….your whitework is lovely. Nothing that I would ever try but I admire others creativity. Wouldn’t it be boring if we all stitched the same things???
    I am working on a four way bargello (small project) that doesn’t require much concentration. Kinda of down during the holiday season for several reasons.
    My dad still lives by himself at 86. He says he has lived too long and is ready to go. I don’t see that happening any time soon. He has begged me never to put him in a nursing home….how can I ever prevent that ?

  4. Hi Jocelyn

    I love your sampler. I really admire Gay Eaton’s work, my book is looking a bit dog eared. I see that you are also a member of stitching fingers and in our drawn thread work group one of the members was asking about Naversom. Do you have another source other than Lisa Mellon’s book? And how did you frame up the Naversom piece to stitch it?


    Carolyne Foley

  5. Jocelyn
    I’ve very much enjoyed seeing your whitework sampler and its various parts. Another stitchinfingers participant told me about it. Your Ukrainian section shows the same stitches (the square of 4 eyelets motif) as in the DMC Openwork pamphlet. It is interesting to see that your pattern source uses those same stitches.

  6. Your piece reminds me of the “Maria” in Gay Eaton’s book. Gay introduced me to Ukrainian Whitework during a workshop with the Embroiderer’s Guild of Victoria. Since then I have been trying to find some smaller pieces to do but can’t seem to find anything around. Maybe someone can help me here.

    I am a great lover of whitework and have learnt how to do quite a few different techniques now.

    Happy stitching everyone…….Louise

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