May 10, 2012


Olá! This week my Portuguese soul is full of “saudade"... Do you believe our stitches can talk about our feelings?
Do you? So let me say you that saudade is a word that, as far as we know, has no equivalent in other languages... A single word whose meaning is complex, of great depth and culturally significant. And one of the hardest to translate in the whole world…
Longing and nostalgia are commonly used to explain saudade... Saying that my heart is full of saudade means that I’m missing someone or something... But it’s far more than that... I believe that what “Portuguese soul” adds to this sentiment is a feeling that the return of that thing or person is unknowable and entirely left to fate...

Hearts in burel...
Embroidered on burel, my own simple stitches
Although identified in ancient documents since 13th Century, “according to some historians, this word came to life in the 15th Century when Portuguese ships sailed to Africa and Asia. A sadness was felt for those who departed in the long journeys to the unknown seas and disappeared in shipwrecks, died in battle, or simply never returned. Those who stayed behind -- the women, children and old folks -- deeply suffered from their absence. There was the constant feeling of absence, the sadness of something that was missing, the yearning for the presence of the loved ones who had sailed.” (1)

Embroidered necklace
Embroidered burel necklace, french knots with wool
This week I tried to choose some photos of my stitches that could talk about my feelings… I’m feeling sad… So I’m not in a colorful mood… But at the same time I feel strong and strangely warm… As if the pain of the loss was calmed and caressed by all the good memories and the confidence in a future gathering, which has just been delayed a while… As so the natural colors of wool and the rude softness of its texture are perfect to express these feelings...  Because saudade is natural, rude and soft too...
"The feeling is also sugar-coated, you remember it with a grin, laugh about the memories and your heart is filled with this great intoxicating feeling.”(2) "Although it relates to feelings of melancholy and fond memories of things, people and days gone by, it can be a rush of sadness coupled with a paradoxical joy derived from acceptance of fate and the hope of recovering or replacing what is lost by something that will either fill the emptiness or provide consolation".(2)

A Portuguese key ring...
Burel key ring, many hearts - one heart
I believe our stitches have the gift of speaking for us… And I hope that the stitches I’ve chosen can translate into images a word that has no translation…
Some say that the richness and uniqueness of language create realities and feelings... That would imply that only Portuguese people could feel saudade. I truly do not share it: The saudade felt by the lost of a great friend is as universal as friendship…

A final and I hope inspiring note... Wherever the Portuguese Language is spoken the word saudade is sung with different accents and rhythms… You can hear it in Portuguese from Portugal, from Cape Verde or from Brazil… I hope these songs maybe an inspiration for your stitches...


  1. What a lovely post. Thank you.

  2. Gabi this is a great post.  Thanks for sharing "saudade" and it's closely held part in Portuguese culture.  I love the stitching you've chosen to go with it.  I'm sure now that I've read your post I will remember you and this word when I am feeling this same way.

  3. Beautiful post. I am all tingly. English is so limited as a language for describing feelings with any resonance, certainly not with one word.

  4. Your post strikes a cord in me which is also sad right now.  The only American word that I can think of nearing your word is "grief", but that really doesn't convey as much as your word.  Lovely work to come from sadness.  I might need to try this.

  5. Thanks for your post I look forward to it each week.

  6. Maria Bia RibeiroMay 11, 2012 at 8:19 PM

    I loved your post. I live in Brazil and saudade is such a lovely word and really difficult to explain. We feel saudade when someone is far away or passed away...anyway....I am waiting for more inspired post like this one.

  7. what a beautiful post, full of touching sentiments and lovely handiwork.

  8. Saudade...this amazing feeling that for one reason or another.....feels you up....... very good post Gabi....bjs