|Lazy Daisy from Katherine's new book New Crewel. The Motif Collection
If you want to know about Crewel Embroidery Katherine Shaughnessy is the person to talk to! Katherine designs 'Wool & Hoop' Crewel Embroidery Kits and is the author of the recently published book New Crewel. The Motif collection (read our review here) and the very successful The New Crewel (2005). We are giving away one copy of Katherine's latest book at the end of this post.
|Cover of Katherine's first book the New Crewel
Your first book book the New Crewel was a huge success, did that surprise you at all?
Totally, but kudos to Lark Crafts for the beautiful layout and design. I think the keys of it's success laid in the easy to follow instruction and simplicity of the patterns. Each design required only two or three stitches and three of four colors. While I was surprised, the success actually makes sense because at this point it had been decades since anyone had updated crewel. I just took this simple modern design and incorporated an upbeat color palette.
What would you say is essentially the difference between 'new' and 'old' Crewel?
The only difference between the new and old crewel are the new designs and the color palettes that reflect today's sensibilities. Everything I've taught and everything I've written in my books begins with all the very most traditional materials. From pure linen to one hundred percent pure worsted wool thread and all the stitches that haven been around for hundreds of years.
|Pillow trio, a project from Katherine's new book
I was surprised to learn that Crewel embroidery actually is not so much a different technique (compared to 'regular' embroidery) but it simply uses different materials. Can people with some embroidery experience jump right in and be successful Crewel Embroiderers too?
Absolutely. In fact, the most fun thing about Crewel embroidery is that it's so free form. You get to break out of your needlepoint and cross-stitch grid. You can use patterns, but you can really have fun just making up your own designs. One woman who came to my latest class brought some amazing Crewel work that she has designed inspired by my first book. It was so neat to see her creativity.
Your designs have a definite retro feel to them and for some reason 'Scandinavian folk' also springs to mind. Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Certainly the designs for my first book The New Crewel were inspired by my love of retro designs from the 50's and 60's. However in the Motif Collection, the designs are much more organic. They were largely inspired by the colorful crayon drawings of my children that fill the front of the refrigerator.
Your latest book is dedicated to Erica Wilson (needlework designer, 1928-2011). In what way did her work influence your own work?
When Erica Wilson came to the United States, she reintroduced Crewel work to American needle crafters giving them excellent instructions. She also offered a colorful whimsical style that was far different from what anyone had ever seen before. Before I published the first book, I actually called Erica Wilson to get her approval. She gave me her blessing but not before giving me some corrections on a couple of stitches. I had always wanted to meet her in person and was quite sad in December when she passed away before that could happen.
Do you have a personal favourite pattern from your new book?
Yes, my favorite is Seed Pod. I like that with just two stitches and three colors I was able to create something with so much depth and play on texture.
Do you have a favourite craft book that is especially inspiring to you?
I have two Japanese books that fell into my collection that I adore. I cannot read the text but the hand embroidery work is super fun. The author embroiders on everything from underwear to organza.
Thank you so much for talking to us Katherine!
Find Katherine's books in your local bookshop or online. Visit the Wool & Hoop shop for Crewel supplies and Crewel Embroidery Kits.
If you'd like to win a copy of Katherine's latest book New Crewel. The Motif Collection please leave a comment on this post telling us why you should win this book. Cruel/Crewel puns are definitely allowed! It is hugely appreciated if you are following our blog but not necessary to enter. International entries are welcome. Comments close the 25th of June, 12 AM (Amsterdam time) Do leave some kind of trail so we can find you if you are the lucky winner :)