Embroidered Pascha Basket Covers
When you bring a basket of food to church to have it blessed, you want to cover the basket. In some places, it’s customary to cover your basket with a plain white cloth. In other places, Pascha basket covers are more likely to be elaborately embroidered linen cloths.
Many different styles of embroidery can be used for Pascha basket covers. For example, the complex red and black designs associated with Ukraine and Eastern Europe may be worked using cross-stitch or pattern darning techniques on linen cloth. Designs that have a lighter, lacier look are worked with a style of monochrome embroidery often known as blackwork.
History of blackwork embroidery
The earliest examples of blackwork embroidery are from Coptic cemeteries in 14th-century Egypt. It gained its greatest popularity in 16th century England after the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. It was called blackwork because it was most often worked with black silk on white linen. It was popular because, in its simplest form, it used only a few easy stitches to create elaborate, lace-like designs.
Make your own embroidered Pascha basket covers
If you want to make a Pascha basket cover, you can choose one of the designs that Tracy Thallas of Practical Blackwork created for Catherine’s Pascha. The basket covers can be made using blackwork stitching techniques. This means that, even though they look elaborate, they’re very easy to do.
You can see three of the designs in the illustrations in the book.
The easiest pattern is Peter’s Pascha Basket Cover shown here. It uses traditional Ukrainian motifs adapted for blackwork stitching techniques.
When Tracy was developing the design for Catherine’s basket cover, she created, as the central motif, a Greek cross with a Russian cross in each arm. The Greek cross, with four equal arms, was in common use by the fourth century. The Russian cross is a variation of the Byzantine three-bar cross. On the Russian cross, the footrest, instead of being horizontal, slopes downward from left to right.
The designs with the central cross motif should take an experienced stitcher about 15 hours to do. The more elaborate Pentecost Basket Cover takes more time. But none of them are at all difficult. You can get them in Tracy’s Etsy shop, along with other historically inspired patterns.
If you need help getting started, check out Tracy’s tips at Practical Blackwork.
Pascha baskets: They were once a universal custom of the church. Why did that change?
Children’s Basket Cover Project: Your children can make easy, fun covers for their Easter baskets. Get the instructions here!