I was aware (from my grandma) that crewel work is a type of embroidery, but I learned from New Crewel that the definition of crewel is the use of wool thread to create any embroidery stitch on linen fabric. Apparently, it originated in 17th Century England with the Jacobean look (which is currently quite popular). Then it had a huge resurgence in the 60’s when it seemed everyone was making crewel owls, cute big headed children and the like. One thing I immediately noticed in New Crewel is that some of the patterns reminded me a lot of the designs I loved to make with my spirograph toy when I was a child. So, I wasn’t surprised to see the author mention that she based them on exactly that.
New Crewel uses traditional tools and materials, but takes a modern spin by creating motifs that are based on nature and organic art forms. There are patterns in the back, but I’ve been mostly using the enclosed CD that has all the patterns on it in jpeg format, because it makes it really easy for me to resize and print the patterns. In addition to the modern crewel designs, there are also several projects in the back of the book that give ideas as to how to use them in items like clothes, baskets, pillows and more. My favorite way is to display them in an embroidery hoop that I hang on the wall. So far, I have had fun making a dahlia, twinkling stars and also a simple marigold design. I’m really glad that there has been a renewed interest in crewel, I really enjoy using these techniques New Crewel and it also brings back wonderful memories of my grandmother!
Click link below for a free project from New Crewel: