Final piece stretched onto a wooden frame

My most ambitious piece of crewel embroidery so far is this depiction of coal mining. It has a wide range of different stitches including Bayeux stitch, laid or couching stitch, french knots, herringbone stitch, some blackwork stitches, running stitch, lattice stitch, split stitch and stem stitch. This was my second version – for the first version I actually filled in every brick in the lift shaft in satin stitch, which took days of work but resulted in pulling the material too much – so I switched to a coarser linen and tried to leave more space in the design.

I made this for Doug Gray (my partner’s father) who kindly let us stay in his house when we were in between homes. He had a print on his wall kept from a book when he was a lad. Coal mining is a really important part of his family heritage in South Wales.

I love this print and decided to try to interpret it into an embroidery similar to those diagrams of cross sections of the earth with their hatching fills, which I thought might work well. He was supposed to get it as a Christmas present but he has just received it as a summer surprise – it took a lot longer than expected: )

I was pleased with the final result despite some puckering and distortion of the outline.

The original print that inspired this crewel work
Detail of the lift shaft with miners and coal buckets
Detail of coal buckets with each lump of coal done as a french knot - the miners and horse were sewn with split stitch
Detail of a blue seam done with Bayeux stitch and a green one in split stitch