I never had the chance to meet my Paternal Grandmother (Anna) because she passed away when my dad was only 13. Thanks to my dad, I knew her history and the mark she left on his life. Anna was born in Hungary in 1902 in a small, forgotten village that was very far from the capital city of Budapest. Over the course of time that village has been part of Czechoslovakia, back to Hungary and now the village is in the Western most part of Ukraine.
Anna immigrated to the U.S. in 1920, after World War I. She was the last of all her siblings to immigrate to the U.S., while one brother stayed behind in that little, tiny village that was lost to history. Through a string of amazing events, 2 pieces of embroidery that were stitched by my Grandmother Anna have ended up in my possession.
This first piece, with the tassels is clearly a sampler piece that Anna used to practice her young stitches, which tells me that it came with her from Hungary. The stitches are clearly practice stitches as some of the X’s don’t all go the same way and some of the motifs are unfinished. At first, I thought she had started the letters for U.S.A. but then I remembered that in Hungary you are known by your surname first, then your given name. So S A stands for Simon Anna.
The stitches on this piece are immaculate, there’s not a knot in any of the threads on the back, so I’m sure she did it when she was more mature, maybe when she was living in the U.S. I’m not sure if someone cut this in half or if it is whole as the one edge with no stitching isn’t ragged.
On this piece she continued with the S A motif so it was made before she married my grandfather in 1927 in New Jersey.
For me, as someone who sews and loves handwork, I am in awe that these pieces have ended up in my possession when I never had the chance to know my grandmother. I cherish these pieces. The thing I love the most is that the colors are my favorites… red and dark blue. Both the color palette and the patterns are typical of the area of Europe that my Grandmother is from. The condition is unfortunate but not unexpected for pieces that are at least 90 years old. Regardless of the condition, I am giddy with joy at having these.