The Blue Bead by Tatiana Popova

1st September 2023

This week we’re departing from the usual format of our featured project articles to bring you a very personal story of the designer behind the piece

The Blue Bead, adorning the cover of Inspirations issue #119, is a beautiful Jacobean design utilising numerous shades of blue thread and a huge array of diverse and fascinating stitches.

Inspired by the children’s novel ‘The Blue Bead’ by Polish writer Maria Krüger, the creator of this stitched work of art is Ukrainian designer Tatiana Popova.

Following is Tatiana’s life story in her own words, sharing how stitching has transformed her life in remarkable ways, including the hope and support she has received from the needlework community after fleeing the war in Ukraine:

‘My name is Tatiana Popova. I was born in Kiev, the capital of the Ukrainian republic, during the last decades of existence of the country called the Soviet Union. It was huge, like an empire, with quite a number of restrictions and limitations for its citizens concerning their lifestyle and the way to earn their living.’

‘It meant no option on doing one’s own business, no contact with the outside world and next to no literature on crafts – the drawback which I felt so sorry about since my earliest school years. Still, my granny’s hard life in the USSR pushed her to master sewing, stitching and crocheting, and I was able to learn at least those skills she managed to obtain.

My mom was always fond of the beauty of nature, trees and flowers and the passion that she held was very infectious. Since an early age I felt there is something very special about flowers, so it was no surprise that later on, when the regime changed and new professions became possible, I was trained as a floristry designer.’

‘My father, a university professor, lecturer and a very kind and clever man, passed on to me his passion for perfectionism and, I hope, some of his talents for tutoring.’

‘As it happened, my dream of working as a florist failed to come true because of the collapse in the economy of Ukraine following the very first decade of its independence. That was a difficult time for me, but my life kept moving forward as I met my dearest husband, got married, gave birth to our twin boys and was about to start gaining a new profession for myself, when, by a happy chance, I found a book on silk ribbon embroidery.

That small silk ribbon book changed my life! I picked up my embroidery hobby, the passion for which I had never lost, and started arranging flowers into bouquets and garlands, stitching them in silk ribbon.

I also renewed practising my surface embroidery and one or two other crafts.’

‘Little by little my occupation was turning into my business, and I began developing instructions for my embroidery designs. It was a starting point for my embroidery kits, books and tutoring. 

Then my dearest brother gave me an odd present for my birthday: a personal website. And as the website was intended to be a tutoring project, an owl, a bird of wisdom and education, was chosen for its domain name:

I was also honoured by becoming a Search Press author and to see my books being sold worldwide. Teaching classes on ribbon and crewel embroidery made me travel a lot and I even met some of my favourite embroidery celebrities in person.’

‘The war in Ukraine has been a real blow to all of us. It brought me to live in Melbourne, and to stay in Australia separated from most of my relatives. Luckily, eventually we managed to meet up, though for a short period of time – and there is a hope of a family reunion.

Thanks to the hospitality of Australians and the very warm welcome I am receiving from every embroidery community here, I do not feel homeless and enjoy the worldwide society of lovers of the art of embroidery.

Flowers, flowers, flowers everywhere – that is what makes me hope for the better!’

Tatiana, it has been such a privilege for us to read all about your needlework journey and learn how through it all you’ve always found joy in both nature and your needle and thread. The resolve you have and your positive outlook despite the circumstance is evident through your beautiful expressions of stitched art.

Thank you for inspiring us all and for your wonderful piece, The Blue Bead.

Make Your Own | The Blue Bead

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

The Blue Bead by Tatiana Popova is a flowing design utilising a wonderful variety of stitches inspired by a magical children’s story.

Printed Magazines

Inspirations Issue 119

Digital Patterns

A Slice of Life – i116 Digital

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for The Blue Bead includes everything* you need to re-create this beautiful Jacobean design: Fabrics (inc. with pre-printed design), embroidery threads and needles.


The Blue Bead – i119 Kit

*Please Note: To cater for flexibility of purchase, instructions are not included with our kits. For step-by-step directions on how to create this project, please refer to the magazine/digital pattern.

Join our FREE weekly newsletter All Stitched Up!

Back to top