Here at CreaCrafts we don’t just love knitting and crochet – we love all crafts big and small, little and tall, all and all… (you get the picture!). Our magazine collection, Knit & Stitch Creative, focusses on knitting, crochet, felting and crewelwork. But what is crewelwork? Read this little interview with our designer, Sam Beresford, to get the picture.

Can you tell our readers what crewelwork is?

“Crewelwork is usually referred to today as any embroidery stitched with woollen thread. It’s traditionally worked in fine wool on a linen twill background using a wide variety of textured stitches – from satin stitch and French knots to many combinations of these stitches worked over each other. It was originally used as decoration on bed drapes and hangings for old country houses where the designs were based on the tree of life, with fanciful creatures and flowers and fruits twining up its trunk.”

How does crewelwork differ from cross stitch?

“Cross stitch needs to be worked on an even-weave fabric background usually with stranded cotton or silk threads. The even-weave fabric helps to maintain the little cross stitches in neat rows that make up the design. Designs are usually charted on graph paper for the stitcher to follow.”

How does crewelwork differ from embroidery?

“This covers any stitches usually worked in cotton or silk threads on any background fabric. Stranded cottons are mainly used, and the sky’s the limit on design and technique from free flowing lines to crisp geometric shapes.”

Do you have any tips for people trying crewelwork for the first time?

“Firstly, use an embroidery hoop or frame to keep your fabric taut. The fabric is holding a lot of weight of stitches and can easily distort and pucker if not held firmly in a frame. Secondly, use the correct needle. Chenille needles (which look like sharp tapestry needles) are the perfect choice for crewel work [and] come in a range of sizes. Pick the size that makes a big enough hole in your fabric to allow the wool to pass through without wearing it. If your needle is too small you will hear your thread making more noise as it is passing through your fabric. This in turn this wears the wool quickly and will result in breakages.

  • See more of Sam Beresford’s work online on her Instagram page (click here).
  • Sam designed projects such as the Flamingo Lampshade and Lavender sachet in Issue 16 and the seed-head canvas in Issue 22. Our Christmas special also included her advent calendar, which is on sale here.