Contemporary Crewel Embroidery
A traditional handicraft can add warmth and character to a space. A graphic Amish quilt suspended as a headboard, a braided rag rug anchoring the coffee table, Grandma’s crocheted, zig-zag throw draped over the arm of a club chair.
Or colorful, textural crewel embroidery.
As a young girl, I spent many an evening cranking out chain and satin stitches, and flocks of french knots. You’d often find me enveloped in my bedroom’s lime-green beanbag chair, my airport-marshall-worthy headphones pumping out a disco beat, while I speed-embroidered a palette of yarns onto my latest pillow or wall-hanging.
Lately, I’m reminded of the beauty and impact of crewel embroidery, by some fresh and fun contemporary examples like Janlynn.com’s Sunburst pillow kit.
Or the comfy crewel and felt embellishment on Mudandtwig’s nest pillow.
Humble yarns explode into fantasies in color and line, in the hands of Toronto textile artist Odile Gova.
Odile (aka Woolly Fabulous) creates original designs based on her doodles. She told me, “I’m a sketcher and a doodler…I wish I had more time to devote to my sketch books.”
“I was a floorcloth maker for many years and that involved a tremendous amount of designing and painting. I developed a strong graphic style….”
“I wish I had more time to design and do more crewel work,” Odile said. “I really love it. The opportunities for bold design and colors are endless and that’s very exciting for me. Painting with a needle and thread!!!”
Here’s a retro motif in progress, inspired by the pattern on a bowl she picked up at the thrift store.
You’ll be treated to more of Odile’s Crewel work at her Flickr pool. And don’t miss the textile wonders at her Wooly Fabulous Etsy shop (zipper-and felt brooches and OMG will someone please buy me that evening bag!)
If a mod, riot of hues isn’t your cup of tea, traditional crewel designs in clean color schemes can spark a space. Like this crewel-print fabric covered chair from
Or these crewel-look rugs from Ballard.
And HomeMaker Movement’s Crewel Boudoir Pillow at Etsy.
This all makes me want to go scare up a beanbag chair and some Bee Gees.
Think you’ll break out your own needle? Check out The New Crewel by Katherine Shaughnessy