Jacobean Crewelwork: Day 4

When I started this blog, I honestly anticipated it would just be read by a handful of beleaguered relatives and friends and web crawlers. Much as I really wanted to be able to contribute something to inspire and help other people, just in the same way so many other people have helped me, I expected the blog to sit in some cold, dark corner of the Internet, being populated in obscurity.


It came as a great surprise one day when I received an email from a reader, asking a little more about my experience starting out studying with the Royal School of Needlework. That reader was the lovely Catherine over at Hillview Embroidery who is now zooming away with her Jacobean crewelwork, featuring the world’s most adorable oversized squirrel.

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Jacobean Crewelwork: Day 3

Day 3 of the Jacobean course came around a lot faster than I had expected. I was a little behind as framing up had taken slightly longer than it should have (tip: when sewing the webbing to the linen twill, it helps to put your stitches through both the linen and the twill.) Today though was all about the stitching.

I had dutifully laid all the ladders along the main trunk of the tree for homework which had taken a surprising amount of time. The main thing is to follow the line of the curve of the design and, in areas where things like the trunk splits in two, keep the design looking matched and continuous.

Today was all about learning as many stitches a possible so I would be able to independently complete various parts of the design. As you tend to stitch back to front, I was quite restricted on what areas I could stitch with the main trunk not being completed. However, we managed to find more than enough to keep us busy.

The main trunk is being worked in raised stem band, which is a really fun stitch to do. After laying the ladders, you then weave the needle over and under each subsequent ladder. It’s a bit easier with a blunt tapestry needle but the fat, fluffy nature of crewel wool means that it’s very easy to accidentally stitch through a ladder rather than around it. The key thing is keeping the tension even in the stitching, enough that the stitches don’t become huge loops but not so much that you distort the bars.


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Jacobean Crewelwork: Day 1

Today marks the beginning of my Royal School of Needlework Certificate course with some Jacobean Crewelwork!

Jacobean crewelwork is a 17th century surface embroidery technique that typically depicts exotic flora and fauna and some very comic interpretations of what are allegedly animals. While you do see some squirrels, snails or native English wildlife, many of the beasts were stitched from second-hand descriptions or paintings so are what might be generously described as ‘stylised’.

One things I’ve noticed since I’ve started hunting for Jacobean design inspiration is quite how commonplace it is. Even my own curtains turned out to be Jacobean-inspired!


The beginning of the day involved sitting down and pawing through some of these wonderful books, making a note of any particular designs I liked or wanted to incorporate in my own work. A lot of these books come with their own templates which makes tracing and copying much easier, rather than trying to work out the outline of a shape from the photographs.

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