The Story

crewel bluebird pattern

It's a Crewel World

Posted on | By Jennifer Harder

Jennifer talks about her first embroidery memories and how she recently finished her first Crewel project.

My first memories of embroidery and stitching are when I was 7 years old. My mother gave me a cross stitch pattern of a grandmother and grandfather holding hands. I was to fill the pattern in with thread as a way to strengthen my weak eye muscles and to correct my vision so that I would not see double letters when I read. This eye-hand coordination project was the start of one of my favorite hobbies and I usually work on a few projects every year.

On a side note I did finish the project, but I did not have the right thickness of thread so grandpa’s overalls are a bit see-through.

grandpa and grandma cross stitch

There is always a challenge with each embroidery design...

There is always a challenge with each embroidery design because each pattern is unique. For instance, with cross stitch you’re supplied with a blank cloth canvas and without any markers you have to find the center point and match it up with your paper pattern. If you don’t, everything will be misaligned or off the canvas. Another not so fun memory is picking small threads out of cloth when this happens. No only does this improve eye-hand coordination, but also patience. In contrast needlepoint is much easier since everything is printed on the canvas, so there is less room for error. However, the designs that you can purchase are less intricate.

Was it as bad as it sounded, I wondered?

agave needlepoint

As I progressed from cross stitch to needlepoint, there was one territory I had never explored, it was Crewel. Was it as bad as it sounded, I wondered? My mother thought so. I was usually shied away from those patterns when we went to the craft store or looked in a catalogue. "That’s too difficult for you," I was informed. Since she had worked on needlepoints for some years, I listened to her advice and figured it was sound. So until recently I never considered starting a Crewel project and stuck with the "safe" embroidery.

Embroidery kits can be very expensive. You can spend over $50 per kit easily. For that much, I think you have to be pretty sure you like the pattern before you purchase it. However, that all changed the day I went to our local thrift store. There I discovered that I could find beautiful patterns in various states of completion for under $5. In many cases everything was in the package. And there one day was a project in the forbidden art of Crewel. How could I pass up such a deal?

I conquered Crewel...

crewel flower pattern

Blue birds in Crewel looked like a fun and challenging project. The memories of Crewel came flooding back to me, but with needle in hand, I made my first stitch. I followed the directions on the printed canvas and I discovered it was not as difficult as it first appeared. It was more loose and abstract than needlepoint. I finished my first project within a few weeks. I learned it gives a beautiful 3D effect to feathers and flower petals. I conquered Crewel and discovered it was not so cruel after all. So if you’ve never tried Crewel give it a shot, you might be surprised how much fun it is and at the same time make a gift for a friend.

Jennifer Harder

Jennifer Harder is a local graphic designer and artist.  She can be reached at .

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