Crewel Crazy

I can’t help it, the wool is beautiful to feel and see. My “new” book came in the mail this week:

It’s 50 years old, but it’s easily the best book on crewel embroidery that I have seen so far. It’s not a pattern book and only some of the pictures are color. But it doesn’t matter, there is history, design ideas, stitch instructions, and lots of inspiration. She was a prolific embroiderer and designer. Her love of all things embroidery really shows through in both this book and her other Book of Embroidery. They are both worth owning. I found my copies on Amazon in the used books tab.

One thing I don’t understand why she and her editor included in the book is a very strong attack on people encouraging embroiderers to learn to draw and design their own work. Learning to draw, anyone can do. I’ll come back to this another time, but I taught myself to draw just last year with the help of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. I have a lot to say about this – but it will wait a little. As for good design, it IS a matter of practice. Good designers are good because they put hour after hour in, and they go a step beyond just the time, they push themselves to do it better and differently every time they start a new design. However, she is absolutely correct that there is nothing wrong with being inspired by beautiful historic examples. I would go farther though and say all designers are influenced and inspired by others around them. All ideas come from somewhere, the good designer or artist will see something new in those ideas and take them farther, putting their individual interpretation and expression into their work. I also agree with that no matter the source of the design, each of us as an embroiderer has the opportunity to make our own  personal, artistic interpretation of the design through the use of color and stitch. (It’s the main point of my embroidery book and I do plan to expand on this idea in the next book!)

I have been uncertain what to do with my small crewel projects. But her book gave me the thought to sew them together. Maybe a wall hanging or even a bed spread if I do enough of them. I laid them all out to see how they might look together:

The answer is they look great.  (Ooops, just noticed that the bee is upside down!!)  A little photo does not do them justice. They each have their own color and feeling but none of that is diminished when seen as a group. The wool makes it easy. Now I have a little birdie here sitting waiting to join the group. Better get busy!!

3 Comments

  1. Erica Wilson was a goddess. It's so nice to see another crewel enthusiast speak well of one of her books!

  2. Hope you enjoy your book Emily….loving your work.

  3. I think you're a very talented designer and I enjoy your blog.

    Erica Wilson sold her own designs in kits–maybe that's why she discouraged embroiderers from learning to draw and design their own work. I have one of her crewel designs that I embroidered over 30 years ago still hanging in my living room, and I'm ashamed to admit I have another one I started then and never finished!

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