Love for Embroidery - Olesya's Story

Love for Embroidery - Olesya's Story

I was born in Ukraine, and probably from the time I was still in the crib was taught how to love everything Ukrainian. I was raised in a very patriotic family with a long history of national pride- I had family members who died fighting with Sich Riflemen back in 1919, those who were persecuted by Soviet regime and sent to Siberia in 1930s and my grandfather was almost sent to prison for wearing an embroidered shirt to a meeting of school principals. Yet that never stopped my family from instilling the love and respect for Ukrainian song, story and embroidery in me.

I was lucky as by the time I was 5 Ukraine had already become independent and we didn’t have to hide our Ukrainian pride. As a kid I had this whole Ukrainian attire to wear- underskirt, skirt, embroidered blouse, jacket and wreath (vinok). Some of those pieces were passed on to me from my aunt, some were hand made by my mother, and some would eventually travel all the way to Canada with me.

I must say, growing up in Western Ukraine I was a bit sheltered- most of the people I interacted with were from the same area as me and so shared the same views: We all loved Ukraine and were all proud to show it. Of course nothing kicks in national pride like immigration to a different country, and so this sheltered view continued as I came to Canada. Here Ukrainian pride lives and thrives in thousands of Ukrainian immigrants, their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. It’s when I moved here that I realized that there is a different kind of love for Ukraine when you no longer live there. What was not popular in Ukraine- traditions, attire, song and dance, was loved and cherished here in Canada. That is until Maidan...

2014 was a year of Ukraine’s rebirth. What was once collecting dust somewhere in a closet became so popular that it was now everywhere. Vyshyvanka, Ukrainian embroidery, made a HUGE come back in 2014 (and so did national pride). Everyone wanted one and everyone was wearing it. It almost seemed like if you didn’t have one- you could not be Ukrainian.

So what happens when all of a sudden there is a large demand for vyshyvanka? Well, luckily Ukraine is known for its creativity and hard work, and Ukrainian talent did not disappoint. Instead, It has created thousands of unique and absolutely gorgeous pieces for any taste and any occasion. Nowadays one can wear a piece of Ukraine anytime and anywhere: work, school, walk in the park and special events. Ukrainian embroidery has made it to fashion runways around the world and has been worn by many, Ukrainian and not.

Although Embroidery is not exclusive to Ukraine, our patterns and designs are unique. Ukrainian vyshyvanka tells a story, every stitch has a meaning and some symbolism goes back thousands of years. It’s not as simple as throwing something together that looks good, rather, Ukrainian embroidery looks amazing and it has history, it carries meaning.

And so it is with love and pride that we here at Ukieology bring to you these pieces of Ukraine. There are so many talented Ukrainian fashion designers and although we can not showcase every single one of them right away, we will do our best to expose you to the best that Ukraine has to offer!


Olesya Hursky

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