Crewel Embroidery by Audrey A. Francini

Crewel embroidery: With texture and thread variationsCrewel embroidery: With texture and thread variations by Audrey A. Francini
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a great book, and what a great artist to discover! This book on crewel embroidery (surface embroidery completed with wool threads) was published in 1979, when there was a bit of a crewel renaissance going on. (Crewel Embroidery has been around since at least the Bayeux Tapestry in the 1070’s ad.)
Francini’s book is really something special, as she is clearly a visual artist, understanding how to used different stitches to emphasize the piece she is stitching, working with design, color, and texture.
I like how this book is laid out with several projects, each of which teach the reader to use a certain family of stitches.
So, for example, there is one project that is completed primarily with chain stitch variations, then with buttonhole stitch variations, and then with knotted stithes. There are samplers completed with flat stitches (the project of a mushroom/mouse/raccoon in the rain is something special). Francini’s instructions on long and short stitch/soft shading were helpful to me, and included tips I hadn’t heard in other books. Finally, there are projects with couching and laid stitches, filler stitches, and weaving stitches. Francini also includes a chapter on color, one on design, and one on finishing the project. At the end of the book are several pages of great designs for the reader to use…mostly floral and animal shapes.
I loved this book, but it’s worth noting that the samplers are all pretty involved, even when they are demonstrating fairly simple stitches. Thus, they are really useful as far as seeing how stitches can be used together to create a coherent design, but not as useful if you want something you can finish fairly quickly. Also, Francini recommends Appleton’s wool, but does not specify specific colors. Rather, she will say, for example, light, medium, and dark green are needed. Francini also states that the reader need not use the Appleton’s brand of wool. All in all, this is one of my favorite embroidery books I’ve read thus far, and I know I will return to it again and again for inspiration and learning.

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