clear navigate_before

Crewelwork

Also known as Jacobean work, Jacobean crewelwork, Crewel work

Crewelwork is a style of surface embroidery using crewel wool thread, which was particularly popular in early 17th century Britain during the reign of James VI and I (hence it is often referred to as Jacobean work or Jacobean crewelwork).  Its popularity spread with the early settlers to the United States.

Designs from this period are often based on a tree of life motif which consists of a central tree emerging from stylised hillocks.  The tree features flowing branches embellished with stylised leaves, flowers, fruit and animals, often chosen for their symbolism.  The tree of life motif was almost certainly influenced by its use on palampores (bedcovers) which were being imported from India, and the increase in botanical illustrations prompted by the discovery of previously unknown plants from the New World.

Original Jacobean crewelwork pieces were often created as large hangings or other items for domestic houses.  Colour palettes are normally greens, blues, bright yellows and browns with some red1, worked on an off-white or beige tightly woven linen twill fabric.  Pieces often feature a wide variety of embroidery stitches which create a richly textured surface.

Crewelwork Stitches