Concepts create idols; only wonder grasps anything. - St Gregory of Nyssa

Friday, September 12, 2014

Icon Towel

I finally finished an icon towel (or "Rushniki") I began years ago. Bit by bit, I am going through unfinished projects and completing them. Unfinished projects are just so much clutter, junking up our home and my soul.

I used a length of Huck toweling, and cobbled together several different "swedish weaving" (also called "huck embroidery") patterns I researched. Embroidery is an art I have dabbled in throughout my life, from cross-stitch to Brazilian to bargello to hardanger to punch-needle.
Huck embroidery is the one technique I come back to again and again. I've done projects from monk's cloth blankets to icon towels to kitchen towels. I finished all those projects in good time (except for the one for ME, pictured above), and found it to be a fun and relaxing hobby.
Early on, I crocheted the edging right on the end of the cloth. I am thinking of doing that again, this winter, after the harvest is finished and canning season is over.

There is a wonderful article about icon towels at Orthodox Arts Journal. This post is one of a series on Liturgical Arts

Here is an excerpt:

...In America, women should learn to make their own versions of icon towels. It would be wise to adhere to the basic ‘look’ of Slavic rushnyki – mostly white with simple designs in mostly red. These colors are usually the best possible complement to traditional icons and woodwork. The geometric simplicity of the designs is important so as not to visually compete with the icon. But beyond this, the patterns in rushnyki vary greatly over time and place. So women today should feel free to develop their own patterns that they find pleasing and meaningful. Churches should encourage this craft as a valued expression of the love of the Saints. If we are really to show the reverence to icons that we claim, we should see to it that our icons are well-painted, displayed properly in shrines, lit with fine lampadas, and honored with beautiful towels. ...
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