To put it simply, Crewel Embroidery or Crewelwork is a type of embroidery using wool and variety of different embroidery stitches to follow a design outline applied to the fabric. The many stitches are used in Crewelwork to create a textured and colourful effect. Unlike silk or cotton embroidery threads, crewel wool is thicker and creates a raised, dimensional feel to the work.
According to an essay written by Guild member Deb, “This type of embroidery has been in existence for thousands of years.” The essay was written, by Deb, for an Embroiderers’ Association of Canada course she was taking a number of years ago and the essay was one assignment for the first lesson. Her essay starts with:
“Crewel – Formed from the Anglo-Saxon word cleow” for “ball of thread”, the word now refers to the 2-ply, slightly twisted, worsted yarn used in wool embroidery. Cleow has undergone a number of changes to clew- cruell – krewel and finally to crewel as we know it today.”
Deb has kindly provided us with a copy of her entire essay, a very interesting and informative writing of the history of Crewel Embroidery and can be found at this link: Origins of Crewel Embroidery.
Below you will find a sampling of our members’ Crewelwork.