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Ukraine: Land Of Hope & Resilience – Around The Frame

Lena Korolova Quilt “Sunflowers” was created for the exhibition “Sunflower”. It is her very first quilt since Jinny Beyer’s first visit to Kyiv.

As many of you look forward to celebrating Easter either on April 17 or April 24, the Ukrainian tradition of pysanka: decorating eggs with their folk designs comes to mind. The word pysanka means “to write” or “to inscribe” as the designs are created with dye and beeswax just like batik fabrics. As their Easter eggs symbolize new life, their national flower, the sunflower symbolizes optimism (look on the bright side), happiness (faces the sun) and peace. At the time when the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, Ukraine held the third-largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world. In 1996 Ukraine agreed to remove them and to honor the occasion, representatives from the USA, Ukraine and Russia gathered at a former missile site to plant sunflowers. The sunflowers not only symbolized the

Ukrainians optimistic hope for peace and happiness, but the sunflowers also have the special capability of absorbing radioactive isotopes from the environment.
Over the past couple months, we have all watched in horror as Ukraine’s peace has been shattered by the Russian invasion. I contacted Quilter’s Hall of Fame inductee (1984) Jinny Beyer who was invited to teach in Ukraine by Svetlana Dolesko, a quilter, shop owner and patron of the arts and crafts in Ukraine. She taught there for three consecutive years and found her wonderful students to be like sponges absorbing everything she had to say and applying it to their own style. Jinny recollects it as one of the most gratifying teaching experiences she’s ever have had. She shared with me the following from her quilting friend Lena Korolova dated March 13, 2022:

Hello Jinny,

So, another week of war has passed. A lot of people have already died, both civilians and military. If the information is accurate, then more civilians died. Putin’s troops go into people’s houses, rob them, and people are often shot.

Today we learned that a New York Times correspondent has died. They shoot at the press, like on the Maidan in Kyiv in 2014. It’s horrible. We mourn for all the victims.

Around the clock we hear sirens warning of air raids, this happens from 2-3 to 5-7 times a day, very often at night. The enemy is wearing us down.

Everything is the same with me, but fatigue and severe physical weakness appeared, although my spirit was not affected. Perhaps this is due to constant stress and a sedentary lifestyle. A year ago, I got sick with a “fashionable” virus and got unpleasant heart complications. Therefore, I began to look for ways to restore health. The Internet gave me the answer. I started walking intensively. At first, I walked slowly and little by little, and then further and further. As a result, I walked 6.2 miles almost daily, and on weekends I could walk much more through the forest. My usual route ran along the Dnieper River between two bridges. I really miss my route. I was so happy then.

Today I made the second exit from the house. Little has changed around, except for new roadblocks. The city has become sad, gray, people seem to be calm and support each other with kind words. I met a neighbor with a dog. The dog was so happy with me that he licked me all over and climbed on my head: This is a big dog, a shepherd dog. The dog was so happy, and I even envied him because everything is fine in his world so far. I must say that I love dogs very much, I once had a Labrador.

As before, there are no vegetables and meat in stores, but there are eggs and pasta. Today, the biggest success for all the days of the war was the purchase of flour. I have been baking delicious bread myself for many years. Store prices have gone up a lot. But we were able to buy milk at the pre-war price. I really want a fresh salad, at least from cabbage. Here is my favorite kale salad recipe. Slice the cabbage as thinly as possible. Put in a bowl, add salt, sugar, and fresh lemon juice to taste, so that the final taste is sweet and sour. Lightly crush the cabbage with your hands to mix all the flavors. Serve with vegetable oil, I use sunflower oil. There is nothing new or unusual about this salad. But maybe someone will cook it and remember me.

I think more and more that I am a useless member of society for my country in these difficult times. Apparently, the survivor syndrome is already beginning in me, although the end of the war is still very far away.

Mom is doing well so far. She even made me laugh. The other day I asked her what was in her alarm case. She replied that she no longer had an alarm case, that she had put all the things in their places. I was outraged and asked why she did this. She replied that there were so many things that it would be difficult to carry them. I asked what exactly she put in the suitcase. And she replied that a lot of everything you need. I asked for clarification. And the first thing she said was the word sandals. I laughed because we now have a negative temperature and it snowed. By the way, usually at this time of the year we are much warmer.

With love and best wishes,

Quilts are being made all over the world to help the people of Ukraine. Google “Quilts for Refugees” and “Quilters Stand for Ukraine”.

Although there are free quilt patterns you can copy, perhaps you would like to take inspiration from Lena and other Ukrainian quilters that have learned so much from Jinny!

This Easter Season Let’s bring God’s Sunshine onto the People of Ukraine!

Lois Levihn

She is the author of the "Around the Frame" quilting column. She is a graduate of Wayne HS. Quilts have always been important to her, she loves the stories surrounding them, the techniques used in making them, & restoring them. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer