Yarn Yardage Leftovers: Crewel Embroidery

Craft & Design Yarncraft

I’ve been cleaning out my apartment one space at a time. Today was my studio. After collecting up all the butterfly bobbins of wool I have floating around I was confronted with a whole shopping bag full of random colors. Some people may see this as overwhelming, depressing, challenging (what to do with all these random colors)… well… honestly… it filled me with childhood glee! You see, wool is great for crewel… and all those random colors? A painters palette!
Sometimes it’s fun to mix things up a bit. Just because you have leftovers from a knit project, does not mean you have to stick with knitting for the leftovers. Those last 3 yards are perfect for a variety of projects and crewel is on the top of my list. It’s free style embroidery, but specifically with 2-ply wool yarn – though I’ve used a variety of fiber types with good results.

Crewel is a great way to use those last bits, and to me it’s a family tradition. Going back to my great grandma we have all preferred Crewel embroidery. I’m not sure what it is, maybe the thrifty nature of using up leftovers, the soft texture, or just that it was the late 70’s early 80’s and that’s what all the rage when my grandma and mom were into it. And of course little girls want to be like their moms.
The first crewel work I ever stitched was a little fisher boy kit. I still have him around and think he’s pretty cute. I had forgotten about my crewel beginnings though. That was until I was in dekalb, my first year of university, and I saw this great book at the library. It’s called The New Crewel. It sparked my interest in crewel all over again. I thought I had never seen anything like it. It’s funny how I was really surrounded by it my whole childhood. If you haven’t already, check out this great interview with the author of the New Crewel, it was posted here on CRAFT earlier this month.
My grandma made this when my mom found the pattern a bit too much.
And this hung in the hallway since I was a kiddo:
Here are some great resources for Crewel Embroidery, starting with the history and ending with some project ideas. I am particularly fond of the coloring book idea, just brilliant.

Armed with a bag full of wool, you will be sure to see some new embroidery patterns coming up on Craft Leftovers.

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Hi! I am an artist, author, and owner of a modern apothecary called Little Woods in Ames, Iowa.

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