My initial contact with Balkan textiles was in 1972. We spent our honeymoon in what was then Yugoslavia. When we just about ran out of money we took to travelling overnight by coach to save accommodation costs (I have been over the old Mostar bridge but cannot really remember it!) and ended up spending three or four days in Sarajevo. It was incredible and I would never go back because of course most of it no longer exists. But I do remember going to several museums including one with a wonderful collection of embroideries. In fact I was inspired to make a cross stitch tablecloth to a design from a book I found in the Needlewoman shop in Regent St. I still have the book and the tablecloth.
From what I had seen in 1972 I knew that embroidery was an important part of Balkan culture. My sister is a weaver so she was interested in textiles too. We had hoped to visit the Ethnographic Museum in Budapest but it is an old house with a lot of steps up to the entrance and I decided I could not risk falling up or down them. A real nuisance. On our first day on the boat we visited Kalosca in Hungary where there is the only paprika museum in the world. It is just two rooms but as we were listening to the guide I realised that there were a few examples of Hungarian embroidery in a case just where I was standing. Most were reasonably modern
and not that different from the clothes we saw in shop windows
but there were a couple of pieces that were obviously older. I did not think that anyone in the museum would be able to tell me about them but you can see that the motifs are based on flowers and that the stitching is predominantly satin stitch.
Later I came across my copy of 'Embroidery Studio' which was published by the Embroiderers' Guild in 1993. The book is a series of projects in which people created new embroideries inspired by work in the Embroiderers' Guild collection. One chapter, The Matyo Rose by Diana Keay was inspired by a piece from the Matyo area of Hungary, quite near Budapest.
And here is a photo of the tablecloth I made all those years ago.
I did a lot of cross stitch in those days and it was some years before I was bitten by the quilting bug. I also have another counted thread tablecloth from the same book but it was never finished and I keep thinking I should cut it up and use some of it in other work.