Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

July 19, 2013

My Embroidery, Now a Pillow!

Did you spot it when I showed you the bedroom switcheroo?  The embroidery that almost killed me and took a thousand years to complete has morphed from a scrap of fabric to a cute throw pillow no one is allowed to ever touch.  Marvel from a safe distance.  Over there. 

Farther.

Turquoise Hungarian Embroidery
Turquoise Hungarian Embroidery
Turquoise Hungarian Embroidery

If you remember, I finished this at midnight, with only one day to spare in my four month stay in Hungary.  Like the knitting clock I was smitten with, I love how this is a tangible account of just how much time I spent abroad.  It also makes me feel more connected to my family and heritage, because embroidery is a traditional craft in Hungary, and my grandmother's cousin (who made us this amazing piece I had framed) even did this professionally at one time.  My talented Mom is who whipped this into pillow-shape.  Now that I'm moving closer to her, expect more sewing tutorials.   

I haven't really talked about this before, but for months after I returned from Budapest I was really sad about being back home.  Deeply disappointed.  I would have dreams all night of ordinary days there.  I had certainly missed home (and Hubby!), but it took me a strangely long time to readjust.  Of course Hungary is beautiful and special, and surely anyone would miss it even after a short stay, but I really missed it.  I longed to be back.  I was angry I wasn't.  I don't know why, but I think it had something to do with having fewer responsibilities and interruptions there (it was blissful), feeling disconnected from my life in Canada after four months away, but also because I was made to feel special each day.  Speaking Hungarian, I could navigate like locals but my accent gave me away.  Not a day went by, though, that a Hungarian didn't tell me how amazing it is that I speak Hungarian and what a treasure I am.  I was embraced as a lost Hungarian, because my grandparents had emigrated.  I was welcomed "home".  It's so embarrassing . . . but a daily dose of being told how special I am felt so good (coupled with the sugar high we got from eating pastry literally every day).  I'm mostly over it now, which is good, because I can look at this and be happy!! 

Turquoise Hungarian Embroidery Pillow

I need to start another project so I can post an embroidery tutorial.
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23 comments

  1. Tanya! Gyönyörű lett a párna. Jó ránézni! :)

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  2. Beautiful! I can only imagine how sore and claw like my fingers would be attempting to make something so detailed and beautiful.

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    1. It's a work on it over a period of months kind of project! And eventually it become really easy and kind of soothing. It was only the first few days that were really taxing.

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  3. You are amazing! Seriously. Embroidery is no joke. Nicely done!

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    1. I's definitely a neat feeling to have accomplished such a huge project. Bigger projects I normally tackle with hubby (like bathroom renos and whatnot). So it's nice to have done this all on my own, and toiled away for weeks and weeks!

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  4. You did a beautiful job! My grandmother taught me to embroider when I was 8 or 9, and I loved it. Then, in the 1980s, I really got into counted cross stitch, but I haven't done any in ages. It really is a relaxing activity when you get a rhythm going.

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    1. It IS relaxing! And in Hungary it's so common, that friends and family didn't mind if I brought it with me and whipped it out after dinner and worked while we chatted. I want to start a new project for the fall and get back that relaxing habit!

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  5. What an amazing experience in Hungary. I didn't consider this but how true- it is rather rare for second gens to speak the language of their heritage. Especially Hungarian- some cultures have urban hubs where they can meet and speak their native language but it seems less so for Eastern Europeans (at least from what I've observed, perhaps I'm wrong) and I expect that more forced integration (that doesn't sound right- intense immersion) would deter continuation of language. Sad for many, I would think.
    My friend is Spanish (speaks 4 languages) and her husband is Canadian- she only spoke Spanish to them intermittently and they never picked it up- she now regrets not fully immersing them in Spanish at home.

    The pillow looks beautiful!

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    1. The Hungarians in Canada tried to maintain little communities but I think that was more common in the 1950s-1970s, even 1980s. There was a rush of people leaving Hungary after the 1956 revolution (also after WWII), then there was another rush after the fall of the Berlin Wall. When I was younger I did Hungarian dancing, and quite a few of us spoke Hungarian but the group was very small. I think it was easier for my Mom and uncle to keep the language because both parents are Hungarian but for me, my Dad isn't and I think other third generation kids might have the same troubles as families marry people of other backgrounds. But these are just my speculations.

      It's so much easier to learn a language as a kid. I have no memory of learning it, I've just always spoken but as an adult trying to improve my language skills has been grueling. Too bad about your friend, I can understand the regret. But then, maybe it would have affected their relationship with their Dad if he doesn't speak Spanish. Speaking Hungarian does make me feel closer to my Hungarian side, which I sometimes think isn't fair to my Finn side.

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    2. (Sorry if this posts twice- it didn't seem to work the first time)

      Interesting observation- perhaps it would have affected their connection to their Dad. Although, since he's Canadian and they were living here and connected to his family by proximity maybe it would have less adverse effect than if he'd been from a different country than where they were living. Ah well, their now living in China and the kids are in an immersion school- at least they will learn Mandarin.

      Oops, I got that wrong- I was saying 2nd gen (thinking Cdn) but I guess you're 3rd generation Hungarian?? Geez I don't really know how that works. But I've been enjoy the insight you share- I am 4th generation Canadian with a greatly mixed background of western european heritage and no distinct culture. I recall at a young age, feeling like I was missing out on something special. I love listening to others share their traditions and experiences.

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    3. China? Wow!!

      I have no idea if it would have affected their relationship but I have this habit of pointing out the bad that could have come with the good. It's because of my Mom. She always looks at how things could have been so great if we'd done something different. For ex. she will say, "If I'd worked fulltime while you were growing up, I could have bought you a car and we could have had a nicer house". And I say, sure, but if you change one thing in our lives, everything could have changed. I might not have had to work a summer job, might not have met my amazing Hubby there and I could be super unhappy now. Or our fabulous house could have been a fire hazard and I could be dead. I get more gruesome the unhappier she is. We're all alive and healthy, I say! So now it's a habit, I point out the grim realty that could accompany the good if someone did something different.

      My generationalness is confusing. My Mom was not born in Canada, but her brother was. And my Dad was. I think that makes me 3rd.

      When I was in school, not many other kids spoke other languages. My Mom still did things her European parents did, which were NOT things my Canadian friends' parents did. I was uncool in many ways. So there's a downside too.

      See? I'm doing it again . . . Sorry :)

      Still having clung to things from the old world can be neat. Returning to Hungary and seeing why my family does certain things (they brought the traditions with them!) was especially cool.

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    4. Well, I like how your mind works... it's just thinking outside (or rather beyond) the box. You are looking beyond the 1st assumption... if one assumes something may have been better or worse, you just further explore the possibilities, better or worse. I believe that's imperative to critical thinking.

      okay- sorry, perhaps I'm continuing this thread too long. Just wanting to comment that I enjoy exploring a topic from another viewpoint... in this case, from a grown child's perspective. And from a parent's, that's pretty cool!

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    5. Definitely! You've explained my point way better than I did!!

      I can talk all day about anything, lol.

      And you're right again: it is neat to see parenting decisions (in this case, learning another language) from the final product, so to speak. It must be so difficult for parents to make decisions because every one has consequences (good/bad/intended/unintended). My uncle has kids who he thinks spend too much time watching TV and it stresses him out, esp. because my Mom was super strict with TV so I think he thinks he's doing it wrong. Yes, his kids have shorter attention spans than I did at that age, but then his little girls has this awesomely huge vocabulary. And for his kids technology will have to play a larger role in their developing and learning. I don't envy parents in that regard. A lot of pressure! But I'm off topic a little (sorry!). :)

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  6. This is absolutely stunning! You are so talented (and patient!!). My first thought was actually "Holy Sh.." but I decided to spare you the swearing. Haha.

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    1. Haha, holy shit is totally appropriate. But I swear (pun intended) it gets easier and in the end it's really fun and kind of relaxing!

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  7. was there ever an embroidery tutorial posted?

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    1. No, not yet!! I never found the time to start a fresh project and show how it's done. BUT, this winter I plan to hunker down so expect one soon!

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  8. Hi Tanya, I came to see your blog after you left a comment on mine, since you peaked my interest with being half Hungarian. Had a fun morning browsing and admiring your pictures and reading your posts. Of course this one is my favorite - well, one of my favorites. I love your posts about spending time in Budapest as well. I grew up there, so it was really fun to see the city from your perspective. Your embroidery turned out beautiful and I love how you used a fun modern color. And having done several Hungarian embroidery projects myself, I know this was a lot of work!

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    1. It's so much work! But once I got the hang of it, it was calming. I'm just about to start another one and am eyeing up some Matyo designs. A relative in Hungary did beautiful embroidery. In the sidebar there's a photo of it framed. Thanks so much for your kind words!

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  9. You just happened to have an overhead?

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    1. I did! I had wanted to do a very large mural awhile back (actually, a canvas version of traditional Hungarian wall painting with Kalocsa designs, but in modern colours). My Dad was able to snag a really cute, very portable overhead for me but then I ended up selling my house and moving across the province. I have yet to tackle many (any?) art projects, so that mural idea was put on the back burner, but we still have the projector. He was a high school teacher (though that's not where it came from, strangely) and although he's retired, he still had lots of the transparencies lying around too. So for some folks it would be cheaper and easier to use another method to transfer a design, I happened to have an overhead. I'm happy I finally used it, and now I want to re-think that mural idea...

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