Iryna Varabei, embroidery designer. Unique ethno-modern Patterns for Embroidery based on Belarusan traditional motifs and images. ...
Iryna Varabei, embroidery designer. Unique ethno-modern Patterns for Embroidery based on Belarusan traditional motifs and images.
Iryna came to Canada in 1999, when she was 40, bringing her old dream along. She had desired just to stitch (meant that back home, she had no opportunities to...).
In 2005, she joined the Toronto Guild of Stitchery.
Now, she is happy to offer to Canadian and American stitchers her own designs. All of them are based on Belarusan traditional ornamental motifs or on Belarusan images. Iryna tries to transform the traditional patterns into modern designs enriched with diversity of stitching techniques. "I work in different techniques, with different colours, but I still think Belarusan", she says.
In a country rich from the stitching traditions of many nations, needleworkers can now try their needles at stitching a piece inspired by the traditions of Belarusan needlework and to include it in the mosaic of Canadian stitching styles.
Iryna Varabei's work has been regularly published in A Needle Pulling Thread magazine and displayed at the Creative Festival in Toronto.
Take a journey and learn about Belarusan spirituality while immersing yourself in Belarusan folk wisdom.
According to Belarusan beliefs, when you feel a need to commune with God there are three ways to ensure your prayers are heard. First, you can go to church and pray. You can also light a candle and pray. Lastly, you can embroider while meditating on your prayer, for doing embroidery is communicating with God.
Belarusans have preserved ancient Aryan symbolic scripts by transforming them into ornamental stitchery. For generations they have passed on the traditions, symbols and wisdom of their grandmothers. They still believe the adage, "While your hands are stitching, your heart communes with God. Stitched symbols are a way to communicate with the spiritual realm."
Traditional Belarusan embroidery is more than beauty and creativity. Belarusan women consider their stitching as communicating with the spiritual world, and their stitched pieces are like letters and prayers to God. Traditional decorative motifs represent mosaic patterns assembled with geometrical figures which are used as pictographs for symbolic writing. In old times, for example, it was possible to 'read' all about a person's social status from embroidered patterns on his/her clothing. Also, a stitcher could make her complimentary 'postal card' in the form of stitched article, rug, or a special towel called 'rushnik'.
A 'rushnik' is a favorite medium, and when embroidered, it has a significant meaning in Belarusan culture and history; it has been used in all authentic customs and rite, representing the 'road'the linkbetween the physical and the spiritual worlds. It is believed that if you 'write down' your wishes with stitched symbols on a towel, your prayer will surely be heard.
Other beloved mediums for 'fulfilling' or 'stitching' women's wishes and aspirations are bed/pillow covers and wall rugs and tapestries. Rug and tapestries are however a separate and more complicated topic as they encompass whole stories such as tales, ballads, songs, personal life stories and so on...
Guess, the stories our fore-mothers (those who first created the patterns and designs for us to use) told in their stitching are the same as the hopes and wishes of today's women, and are universal. Our wishes and hopes for good marriage, kind husband, healthy children, decent mother-in-law, grandchildren, in essence it's all about family.
Among the other symbols in Belarusan motifs representing 'children', 'mother', 'boy', 'girl' etc., one in particular represents 'family', as in "united family". In Belarusan language, the word for 'family' consists of two roots: 'seven' and 'me' - 'seven-of-me'. And such is the symbol for "united family"the rhombus divided into several pieces, which is also evolved into an intricate pattern within a pattern.
For me as a designer, the challenge in recreating the rhombus symbol was in designing it in straight stitches only.
As you stitch United Family, I hope all your wishes about your family come true.