Why Red?

Feb 24, 2014

Red, it's the color I reach for when I want to feel strong or in control. It's eye-catching and associated with vitality. I have red hats, gloves, sweaters, and skirts.


 
Traditional Russian towel stitched by Tatiana D. Romanenkova, in 1929, when she was eight years old. Oryol-Bryansk region, Russia. Collection of the author.  

Why are we so drawn to the color red? The newest issue of PieceWork delves into our historical connection to the color red. Here is PieceWork Editor Jeane Hutchins to share more about this issue.

The Red Issue

Oh my, it's red! We've devoted this issue to the color red. But why red? Amy Butler Green­eld in the prologue to A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire (New York: HarperCollins, 2005), explains it perfectly:

As a species, we prize color and attach great signi­ficance to it. Yet few colors mean as much to us as red. Proof of our attachment lies in many of the world's languages, English among them. We roll out the red carpet, catch crooks redhanded, and dread getting caught in red tape. We stop at red lights, ignore red herrings, and celebrate red-letter days.
 
  Anna Dalvi's Seth shawl. It's named for the Egyptian god Seth, the god of the desert, storms, and chaos. In ancient artwork, he had red eyes.

Green­eld's book is about the world's quest for cochineal, an insect dye discovered in the New World by Spanish conquistadores. Cochineal made Spain an enormously wealthy country; most other countries wanted the same. Green­eld says, "To obtain it, men sacked ships, turned spy, and courted death."

In "Red: The Universal Color," Mary B. Kelly discusses the signifi­cance of red for the Estonian Setu. The women embroidered ritual cloths and clothing with red thread and "referred to their embroideries as 'red scripts' in reference to the symbols that covered them."


 
Cynthia LeCount Samaké's Red Espadrilles to Embroider. The shoes are lavishly embellished with embroidered flowers typical of Guatemala.  

Irina Stepanova presents a traditional Russian towel stitched by her maternal grandmother, Tatiana D. Romanenkova, in 1929, when she was eight years old. Worked on handwoven linen, the towel has bands of red-and-gray cross-stitch. One of the motifs is a female fi­gure, a motif prevalent in many cultures. Known as a goddess or mother, ". . . this Slavic female deity guards the waterways, watches over spinning and weaving, and protects women in childbirth. She is a simple Russian woman who wrote her story with ­fiery red lines on a radiant linen canvas and left it for us as a tradition not to be forgotten."

As for me, I love the color red. One very large wall in my house is painted a brilliant red. It makes me smile every time I look at it! Enjoy our look at red.

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE Jeane Hutchins

It is the historical perspective as well as the traditional projects, from knitting and crochet to embroidery and tatting that draws me to PieceWork. Subscribe to PieceWork today and explore the countries, traditions, and techniques of needlework's past.

Best wishes,

P.S. What is your favorite color to crochet with?


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Comments

on Feb 24, 2014 11:33 AM

Instead of 5 or 6 knitting projects in this issue, why not recreate the lovely Russian towel with a red instead of white crochet border?  I would have loved to see some redwork embroidery too instead of so many knitting projects.