A legend has it that when a small Kashubian girl was going to bring her grandmother lunch, she stained her snow-white apron. Her granny, to cheer her granddaughter up, took the apron with her to a nearby meadow. She picked all the flowers she could find there, copied them onto the apron, and embroided them with colourful threads. This is how she supposedly began the beautiful tradition of Kashubian embrodiery.
Paulina Syewczyk, embroiderer from Smołdzino, continues this local tradition, putting different Kashubian ornaments on napkins, tableclotchs, runners, and aprons.
You need to know that Kashubian embroidery is a very general term. It includes a list of involiable principles, which differ depending on the area of Pomorskie that they come from.
The first ornaments date back to the beginning of the 13th century. It was then, in the Kashubian town of Żukowo, that Norbertine sisters took up the art by decorating bonnets and vestments with simple embrodiery, using mono-coloured, silver or golden threads.
In time, 11 schools, or philosophies, of Kashubian embroidery emerged. The oldest one comes from Żukowo, with blue and yellow colours being the dominant ones. Puck, due to its proximity to the sea, also uses mainly the colour blue, together with its many tints and shades. Embroidery found in Wdzydze area, on the other hand, many different colours such as apricot, pink, or violet, can be found.
It is the more important, as Kashubian embroidery traditionally consists of 7 different colours, and it is heavy with symbolism. Blue is symbol for Kashubian sky, navy-blue is the sea, cornflower blue represents lakes, green – woods, yellow is the sun and crops growing on fertile, Kashubian land, which is represented by the colour black. Red is blood, which no Kashubian ever was afraid to spill to defend their homeland.
Paulina Szewczyk embroids daisies, pansies, clovers, and bellflowers – all the floral motifs characteristic of Kashubian embroidery.
-I do it, because I like it, although there was a time I didn’t – says Paulina Szewczyk. – You have to have a good approach towards embroidery, a set of skills, some good will, and love for flowers. Without love, the flowers won’t come out as they should. If you put heart in what you do, the embroidery turns out so beautiful you literally want to kiss it – she says.
Kissing is part of a more complex story.
-After I’m done embroiding, I always take a look at it. Even if it has got hand or thread stains, I kiss it because I’m finished, I put a lot of work in it, and I’m satisfied with the outcome. Then, I wash it, iron it, but I don’t starch it; you don’t do that with Kashubian embroidery. Each piece of embroidered material needs to have its own look and feel. This is crucial, as it’s our life – says Paulina Szewczyk.
She has been running her own embroiding company, Z Haftem Za Pan Bra Igłą Nitką Malowane, since 2013.
Z Haftem za Pan Brat “Igłą i nitką malowane”
Usługi hafciarskie Paulina Szewczyk
Jeziorna 5c/5, Smołdzino