Tag: Finnish Tablerunner
A few weeks ago, my husband the Australian was speaking at a conference in Turku, Finland, and the organisers were kind enough to allow me to go too. We had a marvellous time – the Finns are terrifyingly good linguists, so we had no language problems, and because the conference was about Science and Art, and how they feed off one another and contribute to one another, the conversations were very wide-ranging, full of sparkle and fun.
I didn’t have much time for side trips, but I did find an embroidery shop, and asked about local rural Finnish embroidery. I picked a design I liked the look of, and they agreed to prepare a tracing for me and send it on. It seems to be in a combination of stem stitch and Bokhara couching, but when I’ve had a closer look at the stitch diagrams, I will be able to tell you more.
This is what the lady in the shop told me about the design:
You also asked for some information about the pattern, we have a book that tells a brief history of where the pattern was found. Of course, the original designer of the pattern is impossible to trace.
The pattern was originally embroidered on a bag or pouch, that was hanged on the wall, where people put smaller newspapers and magazines into. That’s why the pattern is called ”Sanomia”, it means messages or news in finnish. The word was also embroidered in the bag. We copied the model ourselves to other products, such as runners.
The ”Sanomia”-newspaper bag was found in the Kankaristo house, in country village of Mynämäki.
The bag, that was found there, was sewn by the lady of the house, Helli Kankaristo, born in 1902. The story tells that she was taught to make embroideries by her very skillful teacher at school, and Helli passed her skills also to daughter Inkeri, born in 1928.
At long last… I have finished the Finnish Table Runner!
The embroidery itself is very simple – Bokhara Couching and Stem Stitch, with the darkest leaves worked in nested Fly Stitches. I used two shades each of two colours – a greyish green, and a golden yellow.
The couching stitches of the Bokhara Couching are carefully arranged to create a basketweave effect, and I worked harder than usual to make the stem stitch regular with an even twist to it. Real simplicity is hard work, because the simpler the tools and effects you are using, the better-executed they have to be!
So I have taken particular care to stitch evenly. This was not entirely straightforward, in fact, as the fabric is a plain weave (one thread over and one thread under in each direction) but is not a square weave (warp and weft threads equally spaced). Since it is also a linen, and the threads are a little slubby, sometimes the effect is exaggerated. This became especially clear when I worked the hems.
Incidentally, I’ve no objections at all to the fabric not being a square weave or to the threads being slubby – these are just factors that sometimes influence how something is worked or the effects that are achievable.
When I hemmed the piece, I chose to use Antique Hemstitch (at least, that is what it is called in Yvette Stanton’s Right Handed Embroiderer’s Companion). This leaves only a small stitch on the front of the piece. I withdrew a single thread for each hem (the instructions usually suggest at least two, but I wanted a narrow line down the edge and not the dogtooth effect of hemstith on only one side of the withdrawn threads), and then grouped four threads in each stitch. If you look hard at the photos, you will see that in one direction the stitches look longer than the other, although they group four threads in each case.
Since the table runner is about a metre and a half long, and nearly half a metre wide, that’s about four metres of hemming, which for some strange reason I enjoyed enormously, even though I’m really not good with repetition. I used ordinary sewing thread, but decided to use a golden yellow to add a bit of colour along the edges.
When my mother saw it first (half-done), she told be I was being a little show-off, but I think she meant it as a compliment!
I managed to get started on my Finnish embroidery project at last. It’s going to be a table runner for our dining room, which is golden-yellow and decorated in a slightly Arts and Crafts fashion, so the design has been traced twice, back to back, to create a long design, and without the lettering shown in the photograph that accompanied the linen (see my first post about this project).
Following the model I saw in the shop, I’m using Bokhara Couching for all the solid shapes, laying the couching stitches in a sort of brickwork pattern to create texture. The deep golden circles will echo the sunburst in the eucalyptus frieze in the dining room, and the two greyish greens are close to the other colours in the frieze.
All the lines are going to be in stem stitch. I’m working this quite slowly and carefully to keep the stem stitch twisting neatly in the same direction and the stitch length more or less the same.
It’s some time off yet, but I’m planning to hand-hemstitch the edge of the runner. I take a slightly unexpected pleasure from hand-hemstitching, and even the six metres of hemstitching on the Piano Shawl haven’t put me off. There’ll be about three metres of hemstitching on this, and I’m rather looking forward to it!