When my grandma retired, she took up two new hobbies: going to church and embroidery. When we came over for the weekend, she loved showing me what she had been working on: patterned tablecloths, nature scenes to be framed as pictures, kitchen towels with food-related motives... It was no small work, and very intricate, because she chose difficult patterns, full of details and different colors and shades. We would buy her the fabrics and the threads. Before my wedding she had 20 linen kitchen towels and a bunch of tablecloths ready. I loved using them but couldn't stand staining them - really hard to wash off. In fact, I am so protective of the tablecloths that I keep them stored so that nothing happens to them. But I'm wondering if I'm not defeating their purpose this way... Well, I'm going to iron one and put it on the living room table first thing tomorrow!
What we now call "folk art" has always been there with Rusyn men and women, and had a higher practical value than today. We used to be much more self-sufficient when it came to making things we needed around the house: utensils, clothes, tools. And to decorate them was only a natural thing to do - humans have been creative and thinking aesthetically for tens of thousands of years. So my great-grandma used to embroider in one style (below), my grandma in another (above), my aunt can draw and decorate cakes, my mom used to make clothes, and I used to do lots of knitting when I was a teenager. Now I switched to painting and drawing, but I guess we all have felt this pull, as many other women do, into whatever small creative activity we could manage.