Nowadays, knitting has lost a lot of its popularity due to the spreading of machine-knitted goods, but naturally it was also because this activity is rather time-consuming. Do you know how long it takes to make a knitted pullover? Certainly, it demands a lot of free-time and even more patience. If you long for the feeling of success quickly – which is a really important aspect during your days in quarantine -, start with crocheting. The most obvious difference between crocheting and knitting is that crocheting requires one needle, and knitting two. The choice of a suitable needle always depends on the thickness of the yarn. It is true that crocheted table-clothes are very rare nowadays, but not long ago, girls who were at the age of getting married crocheted, knitted and embroidered their own trousseau (dowry). Let’s crochet or knit table-clothes, balls or animal figures, because it will improve our concentration skills definitely. In addition, they help you give up smoking as well; don’t think of a difficult thing: if your fingers are busy, you don’t have a free hand to light up.
Unlike knitting and crocheting, embroidery is a decorating process. The oldest European embroidered fabrics had cultic origins, like royal cloaks or chasubles. The Matyó embroidery has a past of two hundred years. A speciality of its legend is that the main character of it is the devil himself. According to the story, a Matyó girl’s fiancé was taken by the devil. But the girl kept begging the satan to give her lover back, so he finally said: ‘Bring me the most beautiful flowers of the meadows, and you will get him back’. But it was a cold and frosty winter and the girl dug the snow and scratched the ice in vain, she did not find any flowers. In despair, she walked around the village and asked women for colourful yarns and white aprons, and then she worked day and night. By the morning, the devil got his flowers in the form of beautiful roses and tulips embroidered on aprons.
The Matyó embroidery spread mainly in the north of the Great Plain, in the regions of Mezőkövesd, Szentistván and Tard. Matyó embroiderers worked with drawing women, who drew patterns for them in advance. In the beginning, they sewed motifs on the edges of bedsheets and sleeves of shirts. Although they used a rich choice of colours, the dominance of the red colour is still eye-catching. At the end of the 19th century, women used more and more motifs, but the most famous one was the peony that had its own name: Matyó rose. As of 31 January 2013, Matyó embroidery is a part of the Collection of Hungarikums, as a so called Hungarikum by law.
One plain stitch, one seam stitch
Characters of detective stories are often innocently knitting ladies, who know everything about everybody, as it turns out later. If you think of spies, you might see a dauntless Mata Hari or James Bond. Just imagine, why wouldn’t the intelligence service have exploited the great opportunity given by the knitting ladies who sat in the windows and watched the movements of military supplies? But how did they send messages? There are two basic stiches: the plain and the seam-stitch. They are like a series of ones and zeros; just they are on a scarf or a pullover. Outsider eyes cannot notice them, but those who can knit can read them just like the Morse alphabet. However it is also obvious that a mistaken stitch or a changed pattern had significance only for those who knew the code. So let’s read not only among the lines, but among the stitches as well!
Translated by Zita Aknai