Sixteenth century definition
My attempt at crewel work below, a simplistic Jacobean version of flowers and leaves. It was a kit from Elsa Williams called The Lowell Sampler. I learned to enjoy working in wool though it does take getting used to if you've been working only in floss. Wool does not behave itself like embroidery floss does! I also worked the piece above I've put behind my blog title; it was another kit worked with crewel wool and I loved the colours.
I have always loved the look of chintz and it was only natural that I would want to try my hand at Jacobean crewel work. Just love the shades of brick red and blue grays in this piece of chintz fabric below. Besides the lovely colour combinations used in chintz, there is something about the curls, whorls, and curves that appeals to me. I think it reminds me of nature and how in nature there are so many curves, not usually straight lines. And of course, the patterns are almost always of bits of nature....flowers, leaves, birds and such.
I have been lucky to find a couple of books on crewel embroidery at the second hand stores.
With a complete stitch dictionary and twenty full size patterns to copy, this book, The Margaret Boyles Book of Crewel Embroidery, is a very versatile, useful one to have on hand. I love in particular the section on Jacobean Crewel flowers and there are lots included with instructions to follow to stitch your own.
How's this for just a little crewel! Crewel-embroidered curtains and bed hangings were very popular in England but this is actually a bedroom in the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg, Va. Imagine all the hours of stitching represented in this photo, is what I'm thinking.
Another great book to have on hand. The Art of Crewel Embroidery by Mildred J. Davis is a wonderful, comprehensive guide. Again all the stitches are illustrated and instruction included on how to apply them to create flowers, leaves, insects, birds and animals. Especially, I liked a section of the book Mildred called " Divers Flora, Fauna and Fancies: a compendium of devices associated with crewel embroidery motifs". Here she explains all the historical meaning and symbolism of familiar items most often seen in crewel embroidery. They are listed alphabetically from acorns to wrens and make very interesting reading (for nerds like me!).
I know I'm droning on long about the beauty of crewel work but I had to show you one more book. This is Woolly Embroidery from Chronicle Books and the designs look modern, interesting and versatile. The book gets good reviews and at less than $10 for an 80 page book (from Amazon), it is a bit of a bargain.
Okay I'm done now.