I started doing crewel embroidery a few years ago, but recently have come back to this and I am definitely becoming addicted to the positive benefits to my mental health. Crewel embroidery offers fantastic potential for creativity – the Bayeux tapestry is a great example of crewel work (it is not actually a tapestry). Although defined as surface embroidery using wool, there are many variants and can be done with a range of materials…

I got one of the RSN (Royal School of Needlework) books on whitework for Christmas and got really excited at the idea of trying it out. I should have really practiced my stitches on a sampler or two but I decided to buy a kit to practice my stitches and to get a feel for how other people used them in various ways. I found a great kit by Trish Burr, a South African woman who makes kits that combine whitework and zentangle (which I have also been trying out).


Close up detail of my whitework cat (with grey and black thread too)


Finished piece by me with my signature and framed in a hoop

Although whitework is defined as white thread on white fabric I like the addition of greys and blacks aswell.

This was quite a difficult kit for a first go and there are a few bits that didn’t work as well as they should have. I love the really intricate work that is needed when doing crewel work with single strands of dmc embroidery cotton or floche. It is very different to using crewel wool which is much thicker and more forgiving.

This kind of sewing suits my obsessive nature as I spend weeks on this piece of work trying to be as neat as possible. Literally hours and hours of work went into this work which was done in a 10cm embroidery hoop. This is what Trish’s version looks like – much neater than mine (all pics on this page are of my version).


Close-up of the cat’s head and butterfly with little eyelets in the wings – reminiscent of Broderie Anglaise – a form of whitework

I was actually quite proud of my first go at whitework (despite the mistakes) and I plan to create my own designs from now on.

My first mistake was to attempt to do this piece in a dimly lit room. I have since invested in a magnifying light which is brilliant. I’m sure the final work would have been much neater if I’d had the light and magnifier. So from now on I have no excuses!

I gave this as a present to my mum who seemed to be quite surprised that I had the patience to do this kind of work; ) I think she liked it 🙂


Leaf detail with my signature