I have a list of about eleventy billion crafty things that I would like to learn to do. I’d love to learn how to knit. Although I don’t bake, I think it would be fun to learn how to decorate cakes. And I want nothing more than to arrange flowers like Eddie Ross.
Pretty high on that list was learning how to crewel. If you aren’t familiar with crewel, it’s basically very similar to hand embroidery, except you use crewel yarn instead of embroidery floss. That yarn gives it more of a textured look and feel. Crewel is a thousand year old technique, but it saw great fanfare in the 1970s. These days, the special crewel yarn is ONLY made by a company in London called Appleton. You can find it online and possibly at local shops; there is one place here in Austin where you can pick it up – The Needle Works. It (quite overwhelmingly) comes in hundreds of different colors.
I bought eight skeins of my favorite Appleton colors and headed down to a beginner Crewelwork class at an amazingly hip fabric store/sewing lounge in Austin, the Stitch Lab. Niku, a wonderful gal who was way cooler than I could ever dream to be (she had gorgeous tattoos of embroidery scissors, a cross stitch sampler and a tomato pin cushion!) taught us how to thread our needles with the crewel wool and set us on our way with some stitches. We laughed and we stitched and I was generally hooked. It was so much fun, and I’ve been working away on getting my little crewel sampler completed.
The cool thing about crewel (and hand embroidery in general) is that it doesn’t have to be the typical designs that you find at JoAnn, Michael’s, or your grandmother’s sewing basket. Crewel has gotten cool! After I finish this sampler, I am planning on buying some designs from Sublime Stitching (founded here in Austin in 2001 and now taking over the world). I’m pretty sure Ryan Berkley’s Mr. Fox is going to be stitched out to hang on my wall sometime soon.
Ryan Berkley embroidery transfers available at Sublime Stitching
What about you? Have you ever considered trying your hand at crewel? I think it’s a great thing to do in the evenings instead of checking Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest and then Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest. I honestly don’t think you even need to take a class – just search for some videos on YouTube and get started.
What crafty things would you like to learn to do?