Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Crewel and Raggedy Christmas! PART 1

Hi everyone! 
     I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas! It came and went so quickly. Did you receive any handmade gifts this year? I LOVE gifting and receiving Handmade gifts! I am super excited to finally be able to share two of the Handmade gifts I made this year! AND both of these were a "FIRST" for me! A Crewel Project and a Rag Quilt Project! 
   Crewel is so much fun!  A few years ago I picked up an Aunt Martha's Hot Iron Transfer embroidery kit and a piece of linen. This particular "Deer"  embroidery was perfect for my daughter. I used to tell her a bedtime story that was based on a real life experience I had when I was little. It involved a little lost girl and a young deer that helped her to find her way home again. 

Yeah, rather ambitious for a first time project. And it is huge. 12x15 inches! I started out thinking, ok this says embroidery on the package, so I'll embroider it. I started in the right bottom corner of the grass. Fast forward 2 years and I am still on the right bottom corner of the grass :)! This was August 2017 and I wanted to finish before Christmas! 
  I've worked embroidery before but have always been drawn to Crewel work. I remember watching Erica Wilson many years ago  on television! 

  I found Erica Wilson's You tube Channel and Phillipa Turnbull also on you tube. I think I watched every single video they have on you tube. SO MUCH HELP. I also found a facebook group dedicated to Crewel!   Again so much help and the members are very helpful and encouraging! 
 Crewel utilizes the same stitches as embroidery but is usually worked with Wool. I dug out what Appleton Wool I had on hand, ordered quite a few more and went to work. I came across this Crewel Stitch explanation piece which was handy to have on hand. I also dug out my Embroidery books and lo, and behold I also have a few Crewel books. I have no recollection of when or where I purchased them.

I stitched over the grass area that I worked with floss using the wool and worked my way up the tree.

Please don't laugh. The grass is horrendous. I ran out of yarn several times and just used what I had. But mainly I had not learned "Soft Shading" which is what was needed on the grass. 
I also bought a Scroll frame from Hobby Lobby. I had used a regular embroidery hoop while working on the grass. 

 My daughter has an Autumnal color scheme throughout most of her house with a few touches of teal and purples. I experimented and had alot of fun with the leaves and flowers! 

Finally the dreaded moment ! The Deer! I dug through my browns, beiges and rusts. I even added a little Aurifil Wool. I debated whether to start with his nose or hind leg. I asked the group on facebook and it was pretty much a tie on where everyone suggested I start. I decided to start with the nose.
I switched to a sit down round hoop to stitch the deer. I ordered this set from Phillipa Turnbulls "The Crewel Work Company. 

I also used Glad Press n Seal to cover the entire piece. This helps keep it clean and you just cut away the area you want to work on. 

 I watched Phillipa Turbulls "Soft Shading" video several times and jumped in. 

I love his little expression and his nose held high in the air! As I gained confidence I worked several needles at once loaded with different shades of brown, creams and rust. I think there are a total of 12 different wools in the deer including the Antlers, his cute little nose and spots. 

What a difference practice makes. I am soooo glad I saved the Deer until last. I finished the stitching on December 9, 2017. WOOOOOOOHOOOOOO!!

And then , I realized that I would have to "BLOCK" the piece. Same as in Knitting etc....  I think I stared at it for a week until I got up the nerve to block it. I used a cork bulletin board and a TON of pushpins starting on the middle of each side and worked back and forth from each side pulling the linen taunt.  I then lightly sprayed it using a spray bottle and water. I forgot to get a picture of this process because I was a basket case at this point worrying about whether or not the threads would bleed. I left it to dry until morning.  But what a difference Blocking makes.

So clean, flat and crisp! I thought about going back and reworking the grass, but decided I would leave it as is, full of all my learning mistakes. I took it to Hobby Lobby to have it framed.

 I included a little excerpt from my fairy tale. This was (FINALLY) such a fun project. I gave up on it so many times but I am really happy with the way it finished. And my daughter loved it so much and was very surprised at Christmas! 
 I don't have alot of time for Crewel work , but I have already picked out my next project! :)! 

 A Rooster! I lost my little Bantie"Woosti earlier this year.
 I had Woosti for at least 12 years and he wasn't a chick when I got him so I am not really sure how old he was! He used to meet me at the car when I pulled up in the yard. I know that sounds crazy but he was the sweetest little pet and he followed me all over the farm. He was such a brave little guy and I miss his funny daily antics. 
I found a really nice free Rooster Crewel project on Mary Corbet's Needle and Thread blog.

I think this would make a really cute version of my "Woosti". I plan to stitch it with colors resembling Woosti. I love the Crewel flowers too. 
  Have you ever done any Crewel work? I would love to hear about it! 
I will come back this weekend with Part 2 of my "A Crewel and Raggedy Christmas" and share my very first Rag Quilt Project!
Happy Stitching everyone!
Thank you for stopping by!
 Welcome to all my new friends and followers!
xoxoxox Jan
PS: Craftsy Year End Clearance sale going on now! Up to 70 % off! Be sure to check it out! Click here! xo jan


  1. Wow! What an amazing first project. The colors and shading in the deer are wonderful. What a meaningful gift to give and receive; the best kind!

    1. Thank you Julie - It was a huge learning curve but I really enjoyed it. Now I can't wait to find time to do some more stitching! Thank you for stopping by!
      xo jan

  2. beautiful work....i used to watch erica wilson on TV eons ago as there was a woman in MA named Elsa Williams who had patterns, kits etc...

  3. Wonderful post. You get a blue ribbon for that project! My mother was a crewel fanatic and made lots of beautiful wall pieces, so of course I had to try it and have 2 finished large wall hangings that I still display to this day.

  4. Jan, I love it! Your work is absolutely beautiful! It makes it extra-special that it was tied to your daughter's childhood bedtime story :). I did some crewel-work pillows as a newlywed college student, then picked it up years later. However, I ended up with a terrible sinus infection and finally realized that oh, yes, I am allergic to wool, and every time I pulled the needle and thread up through the fabric, I was breathing particles of it! I really liked that crewelwork went more quickly than other embroidery or cross-stitch. I look forward to seeing your next project!

  5. I love your crewel deer stitching, it's so pretty and looks amazing.

  6. Jan I am simply amazed with the quality of your first crewel piece. I am also impressed that you used wonderful sources to expand your knowledge base. Phillipa is one of the best ambassadors in the world today for crewel work. A DF of mine in our local EGA chapter has done 2 tours of the UK with Phillipa and her team of teachers. I'm glad you got her frame, I've seen my friends and it's a lovely tool to have. I love the Mary Corbett piece you picked out to do next in memory of your farm buddy Woosti - how sweet! I love wool (obviously since I'm the "woolwoman") but with knitting, wool rug hooking and other needlework - I can't seem to fit in crewelwork. If you wanted to join EGA - even as a Member at Large - it would open up even more possibilities and learning opportunities to you. I'm just so excited for you! with warm and "wooley-thoughts" - Mel

  7. Love the story behind your crewel art piece ... it's beautiful! You did an amazing job with the shading on the deer and I don't see anything wrong with the grass at all.

  8. Well done on your beautiful finish; the deer - actually the whole piece - is gorgeous! I"m not surprised your daughter loves it, especially with the family history aspect :-)

  9. stunning and adorable. I have never done crewel work, but my mom did and made everything, not just crewel work, she did - everything, but that is another story about my amazing mom born with only a left hand. Yes, shocking, but her right arm ended at her wrist bones. So yeah, she was "deformed" She died last year at age 93 and she was my mom and just an amazing person. Okay enough, sorry
    I am sad to hear your loss of Wooster. I know the pain of losing a loyal beastie. It hurts. maybe forever.
    Your crewel work for your daughter is incredible. I am in so much awe at this persistent dedication you gave this project. This is a treasure.
    I do love the rooster project.
    Merry Christmas I know yours was lovely, and best wishes in the new year.

  10. Oh my this is beautiful and so sweet! You did an amazing job, totally would have fooled me on being a beginner. What a lovely gift for your daughter to receive. I have never done crewel befire and to tell you the truth did not know what it was until I saw your pictures.

  11. I think you did a great job. I can remember doing crewel work back in the 70s. I still have a nice piece that I did and I still love it. I know your daughter was thrilled.

  12. Oh, Jan, your crewel work deer is simply fabulous!! Lucky daughter!! It has been many, many years since I have done any crewel work - I think in the 1970s like Jennie. Do enjoy it though. Can't wait to see your Woosti piece!!


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