Illustration: English crewelwork.


Crewelwork, or perhaps a more technically accurate phrase would be crewel embroidery, is a distinct technique of embroidery that has a long history in Europe, and in England can trace its history back to the construction of the Bayeux tapestry and beyond.


Although crewelwork often used outlined compositional aids in order to guide the stitching, it could equally be constructed without any guides, or only basic and roughly drawn guides, allowing the crewel worker an element of creative freedom, adding details as they progressed.


Crewel embroidery was usually produced using wool rather than cotton or silk, which separates it from the main embroidery medium, though this does not make it unique. Even though the woollen yarn used was fine in comparison to general wool yarn use, the wool still gave a much thicker stitch producing a raised aspect to the finished embroidery, which gave it its unique style. However, because of the thickness of the yarn an embroidery hoop or frame was needed in order to maintain an even tension so that the yarn did not distort the base fabric.