What is Crewel Embroidery?

Hi All,

I am sorry that I haven’t been sharing enough new projects lately.  Although I love trying new things and sharing my experiences, I found I really wanted to spend some time being a student again.  So I enrolled in some new classes related to embroidery (details below).

I have admired hand embroidery for many years and have even cultivated some reasonable skills over those years.   However, unlike many of the other craft genres I have tried through the same years, I keep coming back to hand embroidery.  I decided it was time to truly learn this inspiring art.

I started my search for a suitable class at the Embroiderers Guild of America.  They have some great online classes.  I decide that my first class would be the class on crewel embroidery.  What is crewel embroidery?  Read below, and check out my free tutorial for an Embellished Ear Warmer with Embroidery.  Stay tuned for more posts on the blog over the next few months too.

In fact, since I have done a fair amount of embroidery through the years I decided to sign up for the Master Craftsman program in Crewel Embroidery.  This may seem a bit backwards, but the truth is that I am not sure what is missing in my craft since I have never had it judged before.  I am primarily self taught in the field of embroidery.  The Master Craftsman program also takes a minimum of 3 years to complete because of the judging schedule (so not 3 continuous years of work), so I also thought I should get started!

As a note, don’t take this to mean that I will not be posting much other than embroidery projects for 3 years.  That is not true!  I have some great non-embroidery projects coming up this summer that I will share with you as well.

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There are limitations on what can be shared publicly for the later steps of this program, but the first step is public.  I am proud to share my first submission (see above).  I was informed that I passed last week, based on this piece, with no provisions!  This first piece was simple and intended to show basic stitch technique and color composition.  It was interesting to be given a strict color limitation, but I was really pleased with the results.  I have to admit that I often stitch my projects whimsically at the time, picking my colors and stitches as I go. For this piece I planned out all of the colors and the pattern in advance.  In fact I did this piece twice!  The first time I used a wool yarn that wasn’t truly “crewel” weight.  I was afraid they would fail me for not following directions.   It worked out well though because I was able to practice my design first.

Finishing this program will certainly be a great accomplishment, but it doesn’t satisfy my desire to learn.  To scratch that itch I also enrolled in a Jacobean Embroidery Individual Correspondence class.  It has been a 3 part class.  I have completed the first two parts and am just finishing up my final project and a short paper.

I know the Master Craftsman program has a section on Jacobean Embroidery, and this new piece below should convince you all that I am ready for it!

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Unlike the exam piece above the final project for the class was a provided design, but had no limitations on color or stitches.  I love the resulting textures.  I also like the 3 different types of green used.  The Jacobean style lends itself to the extensive use of color and stitches, making it a great style for trying out and learning new stitches.  The close up shows some of the texture of the stitches (this type of texture is typically missing from machine embroidery).

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The history of this style, which originated in England in the 17th century, was fascinating to learn about too.  It helped me to understand its strange characteristics.  I will post my paper soon so you can share in what I have discovered (also helps to answer the question at hand, what is crewel embroidery?).  All this work only made me want to see more and do more!  So, I have enrolled in the Royal School of Needlework (in London) for a short program on Jacobean Embroidery.  I look forward to sharing my experience in the future.  I will also finally get to see some the historic Jacobean Embroidered works and the Victoria and Albert Museum too!

As I said, do not worry.  I also promise to post a few other projects along my way.  But embroidery has been a focus for my crafting mind over the past few months.

Happy crafting,

Kirsten

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