What is crewelwork?

‘Crewelwork’ is a fairly general term in the world of hand embroidery. It is used to describe any number of pieces. Sometimes it’s the style, sometimes it’s the fabrics.

I will use a more ‘traditional’ view on ‘what is crewelwork?’. For me, ‘crewelwork’ is the embroidery of a design onto a linen twill fabric using woollen threads (traditionally Appeltons, but there are plenty of brands out there offering ‘crewel wool’).

You can further delve into this technique, and classify projects as ‘Jacobean’, or ‘modern’ (which seems to be anything not in the Jacobean style!). These two (and any other) classifications of crewelwork, are just further refinement on the definition of crewelwork.

Stitches used

Crewelwork uses a lot of different stitches – basically, if it is a surface embroidery stitch (not a counted stitch), it can be used in crewelwork!The historical pieces tend to use between just a few stitches, and up to nine or ten. Sampler pieces (like the RSN Certificate piece), contain more than twenty! As long as the stitches fit the design and make sense, you can use them.

Some Projects Worked in Canvaswork

Click the buttons below to go through to some of my projects worked in ‘crewelwork’.

Some images of ‘Crewelwork’

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