Sunday, April 11, 2010

In Progress: Crewel Embroidery

This weekend I spent a total of 7 hours in the car on a business trip to Atlanta.  My mom and business partner drove, so my hands were free as we chatted about this, that, the other and everything in between.  It was the perfect opportunity to try my hand at crewel embroidery.  Yes, crewel.  Odd name, I know.

I recently came across  The New Crewel by Katherine Shaughnessy when searching for modern embroidery books/projects on Amazon.  The designs inside are as delicious as the whimsical "Birthday Candle" motif on the cover.  Most are nature-inspired, and all have a chunky look that's signature to crewel.  Apparently, crewel has been around for ages, but has lost popularity since its last heyday in the 70's.  Traditionally it is done with wool crewel thread, which is more like yarn than like embroidery floss, and on linen twill.  Katherine's book stays true to tradition but her designs are decidedly modern.

I love stitching.  When watching TV with my husband or riding along on a trip, I'd rather embroider than knit or crochet.  I settled on this twisted tree design from "The New Crewel."  It reminds me of the gorgeous oak trees that arch over roads in low country South Carolina.  After tracing the design on a piece of natural linen/cotton Essex fabric, I packed my mother's old crewel thread (there it was, mixed in with the embroidery floss she had passed down to me - what a happy surprise!) and set off.

WIP Twisted Trees

Here's how far I got with at least 6 hours of stitching!  Wow, this is NOT quick work!  Or, I'm incredibly slow...  But, I love the process, so no problem!  I have another, lighter shade of green for the other tree in this design.  When it's done, I think it'd look nice patched on a purse.  What do you think?  Any other ideas?


  1. oh my goodness, i decided i wanted to learn how to do embroidery this year, specifically crewel, so i'm excited to see that you're doing it! i must check out this book... looks terrific! and i love those trees you're working on. wow.

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