Category : Crewel
10 years ago 0
Posted in: Blog, Crewel, Projects

Am I alone in disliking samplers? I don’t dislike the idea of a sampler – in the end a lot of what I stitch is just because I’d like to try some new techniques out. But most of the samplers out there… well historical stitching has never been my thing. I’m really glad there are people who love examining, preserving and recreating historical embroideries, but it’s not what flips my switch.

And just doing the alphabet again? I can already count to nine thanks.

But the concept of a sampler – using it as a way of gathering and practising techniques – is a great one. So to give myself other sampler-type options, I’ve spent a bit of time recently trying to work on my graffiti tagging technique. Mainly because I adore typography and find a lot of the good graffiti out there simply amazing, not because I’ve got the sudden urge to start sneaking into train yards in the wee hours of the morn, hoodie up and scarf wound tight. But considering that my draftmanship skills are almost nonexistent (you should try and decipher my handwriting sometime) this has been somewhat of a challenge.

First of all: what on earth makes a cool tag? I’ve already used “stitch”, and although I’m happy to try and perfect my style with that, I’d like to mix it up a little at least.

So when a friend suggested a few slightly more wanton, albeit literary, words, well I went with it. Now I know I’m a long, long way from any tagging talent, but I liked my initial bubble styled sketch enough to use that without trying to really work it I up into something a real graffiti artist would be happy with. But it’s a start, right?

So here’s an early sketch of it. I cheated a bit with using tracing paper (because I’m lazy like that) to plan a few different colourways and stitch techniques before I settled on giving crewel a shot in wool. You’ve seen a couple of letters already, and I’ll get more up as I get closer to finishing it.

Anyone else feeling lascivious?


10 years, 1 month ago 0
Posted in: Blog, Crewel, Projects


So who’s had experience with wool before? I must admit I’ve avoided it for years, I think mainly because it reminded me of those orange and brown 1970s tapestries which were somewhat dominant in my childhood.

Sure they’re retro cool now, but that didn’t stop my aversion. I’ve never been known as a trend-setter after all.

So the last time I made it to a well-stocked embroidery shop (xxx in sydney – and why I have to travel halfway around the world to find decent supplies is a topic for another time) I grabbed a few dozen wools, including the Appletons I’m using in this piece. Judging by the dust on the wool stand, most other embroiderers are also bypassing wool at the moment.

Wool is proving slightly more tricky than floss. You need to use much shorter pieces to start with as it really suffers with every pull through the fabric. It wears and thins and so I’m currently only using 20 cm lengths.

It’s also varying dramatically in thickness along the length. I’m not sure if that’s to be expected with all wool, or is a just a “feature” of the Appleton, but it makes a real difference to the look of the stitches when some are with thick and fluffy thread and some with thin and tight. I’m staggering stitches a lot more, so that when it thins a bit I can come back later with a fresher, fluffier strand and full out in between and that way keep the look consistent.

But even with having to start and finish more often, wool works up faster because it covers so much better. And because it isn’t smooth and shiny, it’s far more forgiving of the smaller mistakes that can destroy a piece of satin stitch.

So I’d really recommend giving it a shot. I’ve got a few other kind of wools, and wool/silk blends, that I’ll try out sometime soon and let you know how they go. But seriously, be braver than me and don’t wait decades to try it!

10 years, 1 month ago 0
Posted in: Blog, Crewel, Projects



Have you ever tried crewel? I’ve done little bits and pieces over the years, worked some crewel stitches into other pieces – mainly just in normal stranded floss. In fact, those Pekin knots I complained about previously was me dabbling a little.

However it just wasn’t working in floss and so that particular WIP went back into the drawer. Now, though, I’ve finally dared to broach the whole wool theme and I’ve grabbed that design again and restarted.

So this is where it was: I was working on floss on a thick red fabric and those knots, not to put too fine a point on it,  sucked big hairy donkeys balls.

Now I’ve taken a finer cream linen and I’m giving Appleton wool a shot. So far I really like how the wool is working out, and those Pekin knots were a little easier to do.

So what do you think? Is the wool working for you too?

10 years, 7 months ago 0
Posted in: Blog, Crewel

Has anyone else tried Pekin Knots (also called China Knots, but not to be confused with Pekingese Stitch apparently)? I decided to stretch myself a bit into more crewel work – I’ve done a bit before, but that was mostly pretty basic stuff and not really pushing it. But I’ve got a grafitti project on the go at the moment and decided this might be just the time to try some new stuff. Flicking through the little Anchor Book of Crewelwork Stitches, I found the Pekin knot combined with some padded satin stitch and thought that would work well.

And it didn’t really look any worse than a French knot after all and French knots REALLY aren’t bad, no matter what kind of reputation they’ve got.

Maybe it’s because I’m doing it all in cotton floss instead of crewel wool but I am battling with each and every one of these little suckers. It knots too tightly around the tail and then I can’t get the tail through, so there I sit with needle and laying tool trying to get it apart again so that I can get the tail between the stitches of an even length and tension. They’re driving me insane. I CAN do knots (although I’m not particularly eager to spend large amounts of time with bullion knots again anytime soon) but this guy has got me stumped.

Anyway, only a few centimeters left, that’s all, then I can leave this knot behind me.