RSN Certificate in Crewelwork progress and tips

RSN Jacobean Piece Update – and I need your opinions!

I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I’m really surprised at how quickly this term at the RSN has gone. I’ve now got two lessons left of my eight to finish my Jacobean crewel work piece. There is still quite a bit of work left, but I do think it’s achievable if I knuckle down! Nothing like a deadline to get me moving.

I didn’t get my squirrel’s body finished before the last class, but both Heather and Owen gave the ‘right’ response when they saw him. I had to start again with him as I wasn’t happy (surprise surprise!) with my first attempt. But I did learn a valuable lesson for long and short stitch – the stitches really do need to be quite long for you to be able to get a good shaded effect.

The squirrel’s tail however is proving to be a tad elusive when it comes to how to stitch it! Any help from you on this will be much appreciated! My initial thought was to  long and short shade the tail to the edge, and then add in some turkey rug stitch. I was a bit worried this wouldn’t be traditional enough for the piece, and given Owen didn’t let me finish the sentence before saying ‘no’ confirmed that one! On Saturday I spent some time looking at images on the internet and in books, and I’m currently leaning towards rows of stem stitch, chain stitch and heavy chain stitch – a filling worked in Tracy A. Franklin’s book on crewel work. It is similar to what Owen had suggested, but I was struggling to picture it until I saw it in Tracy’s book. Another thought I had was working whipped woven wheels to give some texture, but I quickly decided against that idea. Shaded burden stitch is something else I am toying around with. What do you think? Any ideas?

shaded long and short stitch in crewelwork

I am also working a couched thread vein through the leaves I have worked in laid stitch. Currently I’m really unhappy with how that has worked out, and I’m hoping for third time lucky! It’s really tricky to get the crouching stitches evenly placed, and getting the couched down thread to take the intended curve is not working as well as I would have hoped! I’ll also be couching around these leaves once I’ve got that sorted.

Another new stitch to me on Friday was Cretan stitch. Again, design dilemmas! These top leaves on the right hand side are perplexing me. I’m going to work Cretan stitch through the middle of the two outer leaves (or are they petals?), and I’m currently thinking of working groups of three bullion knots around this, before finishing off with either a chain stitch or stem stitch outline. How do you think that would work?


As for that back leaf/petal? More because I want to use it than anything, I’m thinking battlement couching. What a great name! I will need to come up with a couple of other options too I think, especially given Owen’s response to my last thought on design! Then a little more tidying up around the trellis with an outline stitch, and probably a couple of French knots placed throughout the trellis and that part will be finished.

I worked these little twirls in whipped backstitch, with the leaves worked in fly stitch and satin stitch. Quite cute! Before working the one on the right hand side, I had to work in an extra few rows of raised stem band, as the paint was showing through- a big no no! Talk about nerve wrecking, but I think it’s turned out ok. I’m not sure the base of it is as tidy as it should be, but I don’t know how else to work these extra stitches in.

For the right hand trellis, I’m going to add in some French Knots in every second space. The spaces on the left hand trellis are proving a tad more difficult. After looking at this cushion I made from the Crewelwork Company, I’m leaning towards sheaf stitch, although it isn’t on the list of stitches. I don’t think that will be a problem,as Owen mentioned on Friday a few stitches I could think about that weren’t on the list. I’m also considering feather stitch, which is on the list. Both trellis sections will then need to be finished off with the edging, but until the squirrel is finished I can’t really do that.

One thing I did manage to do ok at and finish off was the French Knots on the two remaining acorns. Quite cute I think!

Jacobean crewelwork acorns

What else is on the list of things to do before next class? Some more padded satin stitch under the purple flowers and couch down the leaf edges around the van dyke stitch.  And finally, finishing off the leaf on the right hand side. I’m hopeful this will be reasonably quick, as I’m not filling the far right side with anything, and the left will just be seeding stitch. So the real struggle is going to be the satin stitch down the centre.


traditional Jacobean crewel work leaf being worked

So certainly enough to keep me busy before my (theoretically) second last class in a fortnight. And a nice balance between I know what I’m doing (so good to work on after work!), and I really have to get my thinking cap on and work out and test some ideas. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions on these design dilemmas I’m more than open to your ideas!


For anyone interested in following this whole project to date, click here to get all the posts, or select the category named ‘RSN Certificate – Jacobean Crewelwork ‘ to take you there.

I’m linking up with the following blog linkup parties with this post. Be sure to head over and check out everyone else’s wonderful creations!

Crafting is my therapy, hosted by Me, You and Magoo

Super Mom, No Cape

Really Crafty, hosted by Keeping it Real

23 thoughts on “RSN Jacobean Piece Update – and I need your opinions!”

  1. This is so detailed , well done you I would have given up ages ago. Unfortunately I’m no good to offer you advice would heavy chain stitch work ? Iv never tried it but it does look good ….. best of luck !

  2. That was a complete feast for the eyes and so pleased to see how well the squirrel is coming along. I was thinking chain stitch for the tail but then saw your finished acorns and wondered whether french knots would give you the texture you’re looking for?

    1. What a great thought on the French Knots! I could definitely scatter them in to give some interest and texture. More to think about! I’m glad you enjoyed the post – I’ve just got a new camera and have so much to learn, and at present I think I need to stick to day time only photos as I’m struggling with night light, as you can probably tell!

      1. Bullion knots are also allowed I think and you could do fairly large ones which might give a slightly different feel to the acorns. As it’s a large area I think I’d be tempted with the heavy chain instead. Your piece is looking awesome! I’m only slightly jealous of you having finished all your raised stem band!

      2. I’ve gone more with the heavy chain stitch idea rather than with bullions for the tail and I’m quite happy with the result. The raised stem band is quite a ‘slog’ to get through it! But it’s worth the work in the end. Can’t wait to see you piece!

  3. Ask your tutor about some of the variants on chain and heavy chain – I don’t know how authentic cable chain and hungarian chain are!
    Battlement couching is fun, but I think it needs a reasonably large area to show off to best advantage.
    Other than that – my best advice is don’t worry about unpicking. We all do it, and the real trick is to learn from the times you have to do so!

    1. The more I think about it, the more I think alternating rows of chain and heavy chain is the way to go! I’m becoming very adept at in-picking, and am starting to think of it as a development in my embroidery!

  4. Your embroidery is absolutely beautiful, and I love reading all your posts about it! I’m afraid I’m not very good when it comes to stitches so I can’t offer any advice, this post has already introduced me to so many new ones! I’m really looking forward to seeing how the piece comes along, thank you for linking up to #CraftingismyTherapy 🙂

    1. Thank Jennifer – I’m glad you are enjoying it! Thanks for the link up! Such a great initiative and the concept of crafting being a therapy is so true for so many of us!

  5. I love reading your posts, so much care and detail. You seem to be gaining so much knowledge from your course. I’m afraid I don’t have enough embroidery experience to offer advice on stitches…but I am looking forward to seeing the finished project. Those French knot acorns! Love them ? Thank you for linking up to #craftingismytherapy

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