crewel anyone?

For the CreativFestival in Toronto in 2009, I designed this small crewel piece:

(Because the design is exclusive to those folks who signed up for the class, I’m limited to sharing the image only.) It’s the only crewel embroidery I’ve ever done, and I enjoyed it immensely.

But, I have been thinking for the last while that I would like to try my hand at doing more of it. Β I found the experience of working with wool, sharp needles, new stitches and non-evenweave fabric refreshing as well as challenging.

Many of you, over the years, have expressed an interest in seeing inside the designing process… what happens step by step as a design comes to life.

So, I thought perhaps it might make an interesting series of blog posts to follow the development of a crewel piece through from inspiration/idea sketches thru designing, color choices, stitch choices, thru to finished stitched item. Β I’d like to document everything: Β the stuff that goes along beautifully and smoothly along with the parts that… well… aren’t so pretty. πŸ˜‰

What do you think? Β Since I’m not going to be using a cross stitch piece as the subject, is it still something you would like to see?

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40 Responses to crewel anyone?

  1. Sheila Meyerowitz says:

    Love Jacobean work. Mixed threads work so well in the fillings

  2. Audrey says:

    Just want you to know how happy I am you are still around and producing your needlework art. It broke my heart when you had to close shop. One of my first projects was yours “the one with a big dragon protecting a castle”. I just saw you little humming bird and want to stitch it very much and your crewel picture is very pretty. I have been saving some Renansiance Wool for a special occasion and think your crewel picture is more than worthy! Is it still available for purchase? If not its okay too.

    Best wishes from a long time fan
    Northern CA USA

    • twentzler says:

      Thanks for commenting. I’m glad you like the little crewel piece… it was designed for a class I taught, and was exclusive to those who signed up for it. So, it’s not available for purchase, sorry!

  3. Reina says:

    I love crewel embroidery–it was my first exposure to needlework (also in the 70’s ) and I still have a few kits that I plan to make up “someday”. The textures of the stitches, the springiness of the persian wool, the richness of some of the designs… I was sorry to see it go out of fashion, and I cannot draw to save my life, so I let it go by the wayside. This design is lovely and one I would love to do. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  4. LadyDoc says:

    WOW- the answer is a resounding YES!!! I’d love to follow your process, and I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE a TW crewel piece!!! PLEASE!!! πŸ™‚

  5. JustGail says:

    Pretty design, I keep forgetting how lovely crewel can look. My first experience was in the 70’s. Remember the mushrooms/frogs/turtles crewel patterns? Those were my introduction into needlework.

  6. Mary Ann says:

    I’m so glad you have started a new blog πŸ™‚ …and are still interested in needlework.
    As posted above, short answer ‘Yes’ ; long answer “Yes, very much, please”.
    I did a small amount of crewel work when I was a teenager, but nothing recently.
    The exculsive class piece is really beautiful. I do enjoy learning about the steps in the creativity process as well as ‘how tos’ when it comes to working on the project.

    I also hope that you will continue working on Illuminata … and maybe post your teaser pictures again?
    There are stitchers on a forum that were discussing Illuminata late and that’s how I found the link to the new blog.
    There are still some interested stitchers out there (hint hint …he he he)

    Mary Ann

  7. sharon palermo says:

    I have many of your kits and patterns that I have done, or plan to do, but when I first started stitching it was crewel embroidery that I did first, as a true lover of your designs it would be great to see what you came up with

  8. Kim says:

    I LOVE your crewel design! I did crewel before I did cross stitch. When crewel kits went to partially painted fabric, I gave it up. Now that I’ve followed cross stitch charts for so many years, I find crewel and needlepoint too inexact (imperfect) for my tastes. I haven’t done needlepoint from a chart yet, so that probably wouldn’t be a problem.

    I would love to see more crewel designs from you. I’ve always loved your work.

    • twentzler says:

      Thanks, Kim! I understand how you feel about preferring the “perfection” of the grid and counted work. I find that I definitely have a different mindset requirement for crewel work; a different way of approaching the process… which I hope I’ll be able to put into words successfully when I begin documenting it!

  9. Kathy says:

    I would love seeing your design process Teresa! I’ve often wanted to try myself to design a crewel piece from the images in my mind, and I’d be interested in the actual process….I have done several crewel pieces from kits in my past, and even one I made up myself of a dragon. (on a pair of long lost blue jeans belonging to a friend) It was actually done free style with only the barest of sketches on the jeans with white fabric marker. While I love XS, I do enjoy the freedom of crewel sometimes!

    • twentzler says:

      I used to embroider on my clothes… remember when smocks were all the rage? I used to sew a lot of my own clothes, and stitched floral patterns on the yokes of a couple of them with floss, also at one time, a belt with a looooong dragon on it for a 4-H project. That raised some eyebrows! LOL I would have loved to see those dragon-embellished jeans! Thanks for commenting!

  10. TW, this would be wonderful. I missed having the class as CSNF 2009 with you but am so glad you recovered. It would be wonderful to see you do a design from first twinkle to last stitch. I’ve done several crewel pictures as it was my Grandmother’s way of getting her granddaughters to start stitching. kj

  11. Fiona says:

    You know I always enjoy seeing your design processing πŸ™‚ I used to do surface embroidery from the age of 6 but was sooooo thrilled to discover first canvas work then cross stitch: give me the structure of little holes any day! Stitching to an outline just doesn’t work for me…it’s almost as bad as drawing 😦

    • twentzler says:

      I understand what you’re saying! I guess crewel calls to that part of me that has always had troubles with the limitations of charts/grids… Hey! So, I understand how lace-making fits into your preferences… but I’m not quite sure how imagining and then composing/writing English country dances isn’t a form of creativity just as challenging as drawing?! LOL!

      PS. I’ve tried several times to post to your blog, but haven’t been able. I’ll keep trying!

  12. meljoyes says:

    I would love to see your design process!! And I would also be interested in crewel work! You always design such lovely pieces! your piece is very beautiful!


  13. Galhenat says:

    Short answer:
    Long answer:
    Yes please! πŸ˜‰
    I always found the glimpses of designs in progress, both art and xs, on the old blog fascinating and illuminating. So an elaborate version gets my vote.

    So I gather that we’ll never get the chance to get our stitchy hands on the 2009 class pieces? Didn’t they used to be exclusive for a limited time only? We eventually got the needlebook and that was a class piece too IIRC? I live far away from North America and will probably never be able to fly over and follow a class. (Supposing there will be more) Consequently I will never have a chance to own/purchase one of those exclusives. While I (rather grudgingly) see some of the point of the exclusivity, I also find it a major design flaw.

    • twentzler says:

      I decided to keep the 2009 class projects (that weren’t collaborative) totally exclusive to the attendees. The Festival asks for exclusivity for a limited amount of time, but I decided to do something extra for the attendees that year. I don’t plan to teach in that type of venue again; nor will there be any more “exclusive” projects.

  14. GeekLady says:

    Now, I’ve done crewel before, I did some split stitch text and a deer and running water motif on the christening gown I made after I had my son. But I’d love to know where you got your fabric! I took Jane Rainbow’s advice from her book and used linen twill… and it was so stiff to work with that I regret it. Linen twill looks nothing like what came in the Christmas stocking kits my mother did in crewel for her children, or what you used in your photo above. What did you use?

    • twentzler says:

      I used a 100% cotton upholstery fabric… which gave me the sturdiness I needed, but wasn’t terribly expensive. I put that same fabric in the kits as practice fabric. I have yet to stitch on the linen I ordered especially for the kits … it was expensive, but was recommended by a shop owner friend who acquires supplies for EGA classes; a truly gorgeous fabric. It’s called Oyster Linen, and is available from Lucia’s Needle Arts (

  15. Lisa says:

    What an awesome idea! πŸ™‚ Love the class project.

    I’ve noticed that some of your more recent floral drawings would do well as CRUEL works. They have a William Morris/William De Morgan style about them (my personal favsBTW!). Hrmmmm.. They could do well in canvas too. Ever thought of painting canvases? LOL

    • twentzler says:

      Thanks! I also love Morris’ style… and I admit that his illustration work for the Kelmscott Chaucer has inspired the borders for some of my designs. Love that “flowing” organic viney stuff! πŸ˜‰ Painting canvases? NOPE! LOL

      • Lisa says:

        Come on! You know you want to paint canvases. *weg*

        Those Kelmscott Chaucer alphabets look vaguely familiar……

  16. Christine says:

    I was sorry that you were unable to teach that class (no, don’t apologize, not your fault you were sick). I don’t have the courage to do crewel work on my own without some tutoring. So I gave the kit away to a friend.

    But I LOVED the bargello kit, and have done some larger projects after finishing that one. It was fun and inspiring.

    And I really look forward to seeing your posts about your design process.

    • twentzler says:

      I hope I’ll be able to help you gain some confidence to try it!!
      I’m glad you enjoyed the bargello kit… I’ve seen some of your work posted on the TWBB: beautiful job!!

      • Christine says:

        Thank you. I finished the stitching on the first blue Bargello cushion, but haven’t yet converted it into a cushion. Will do that when I’m finished the stitching on the second one. So I can do both at once. Will be looking for tutorials on how to do that! Photos to follow on the TWBB.

      • Christine says:

        Oh and I really enjoyed the bead work kit. Finished that one into an ornament since I don’t wear pins much.

        And I finished the stitching on the Cutwork compass Rose, which is GORGEOUS. Will get that professionally framed when I’ve figured out what background to use, and when I can afford it!

        So I completed 3 out of 4 of the non-cross stitch kits from the 2009 Festival.

        I’m sorry to hear you don’t plan to return, but am not surprised.

  17. Sylvia says:

    I would be very interested in following your design process and it is even better that it is crewel since I want to learn how to to it. However I imagine the design process itself doesn’t vary that much from one needlework form to another.

    • twentzler says:

      The basic stitches are pretty easy to master. And the design process is much the same, you are correct. What I really love the most about it is the amount of freedom afforded the stitcher… your imagination is pretty much the only limit. πŸ™‚

  18. Shirley Crockett says:

    I love all types of needlework, so I’m sure I would really enjoy your posts on the development of a crewel piece.

    Shirley C

  19. Christine S says:

    I would be interested in learning about crewel work. I’ve seen it but never tried it…I don’t know how good I’d be at somewhat “free-hand” embroidery!

    • twentzler says:

      It’s quite different from counted work, but I really enjoy it. If you’ve ever felt like “the grid” (cross stitch chart) is just a bit too confining, you just may like it, too! πŸ™‚

  20. Silverlotus says:

    I’d be very interested in reading about crewel designs. I wish I could have taken the class, but I just can’t use wool.

    Maybe you could consider writing about alternate fibres for crewel, if there are any.

    • twentzler says:

      Great suggestion! I will keep it in mind as I’m designing.

      A lady name Trish Burr does some incredibly lovely things using floss and long and short stitch… which is a more “refined”, for lack of a better term, version of long and short stitch done with wool. You may be interested in her book titled: “Long and Short Stitch Embroidery” A Collection of Flowers. ( ISBN-13 978-1-86351-352-4, ISBN-10 1-86351-352-3 )

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