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