Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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The New Crewel by Katherine Shaughnessy – Book Review


Amazon Books

For those looking for a contemporary twist on crewel work, The New Crewel by Katherine Shaughnessy may be just the right book. It’s a small, concise book with a minimalist approach. Herein, don’t expect the flouncy flourishes of Jacobean crewel work or the abundant vine, flowers, and birds of other crewel embroidery projects. Instead, expect little and simple designs that are modern and a little bit funky and fun. Here’s my review…

The New Crewel is a book devoted to “exquisite designs in contemporary embroidery.” In my opinion, it falls into the category of a project book more than an instructional book, but it contains good instructional information, too.

The New Crewel by Katherine Shaughnessy

The cover of the book reflects the flavor of the projects enclosed – they are simple and modern.

The New Crewel by Katherine Shaughnessy

Though the book is definitely a modern approach to crewel, art springs from something, it has a history, and it can’t be reasonably separated from its history. We learn from the ages before us, and so it is fitting that the book begins by looking back at the history of crewel with a brief and interesting discussion of the origins and development of crewel embroidery.

The New Crewel by Katherine Shaughnessy

Then, we have a section on the basics. This is where you find fabric and threads discussed, as well as instruction on setting up a project and finishing it. The information here is the standard basics you would find in most good crewel embroidery books.

The New Crewel by Katherine Shaughnessy

For the newbie to crewel, a discussion of stitches is imperative, and the book supplies the learner with plenty of drawn diagrams and stitch directions.

The New Crewel by Katherine Shaughnessy

Next up is the gallery of different crewel designs that will be used in the projects following. The names of the pieces crack me up. The one on the left is “Dinner Party.” (I’m not quite sure what was for dinner??) And then there are those really “hip squares.” They’re hip. What more needs to be said?

The New Crewel by Katherine Shaughnessy

Ruby Shoots and Sway Days compose my favorite spread of pages, only because I’m a sucker for reds. These two projects practically jump out of the book because of their vibrant color.

The “gallery” images are accompanied by information on supplies and stitches used to complete the featured pieces.

The New Crewel by Katherine Shaughnessy

Following the gallery is the project area, where several projects are presented from start to finish, including finishing techniques.

The New Crewel by Katherine Shaughnessy

The unique character of the book is seen especially in the projects. Aside from the more traditional uses of crewel – pillows and eyeglass case – there are some non-traditional uses as well. How often do you top your filled canning jars with your embroidery?

The New Crewel by Katherine Shaughnessy

And the cover project is effectively put to use as a greeting card.

You’ll find a lampshade project, a small circle sampler, some pillows, a fun and unusual eyeglass case, some greeting cards, ornaments, embellished clothing, an album cover, and more in the projects area.

The book is very accessible for all levels of embroiderers and the projects are definitely different and fun. They’re small projects, too, so they can be worked up quickly.

I like the book! I think it would make a terrific gift for someone with contemporary tastes in decor and in the needlearts.

You can find The New Crewel: Exquisite Designs in Contemporary Embroidery at Amazon for just over $10 new.


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(24) Comments

  1. I love this book! It's been on my wishlist for a while now, and I'm glad you have found it too. Maybe this book will get younger people drawn to embroidery again!

    Gwen (28) from Dordrecht, the Netherlands.

  2. G'day Mary,

    Well, here I am out in the bush again. Much more comfortable weather thankfully. Next week it will be 12 mths since our grand daughter arrived out here, to teach us a whole new meaning of love. Our precious little bush princess.

    Valued your review Mary. Have seen this book advertised and was very interested but never able to see inside it. It's beaut. Besides for myself, it would be good to have on the shelf for my bush princess, a few short years hence.

    It's mid a.m. but I'm for bed. After 7 hrs on the road yesterday I've misplaced my get-up-and-go. Hopefully I'll have found it after a lovely long sleep!

    Bye now Kath.

  3. I would love to do some of the things shown in your book,,i love embroidery and am always looking for something new.
    Sheila Bowers

  4. Bonjour Mary.This est une bonne occasion de dire que je suis votre admiration.Now AVEC travail, vous nous décrire un livre intéressant, je remarqued un style de Art Naïf (ART NAIF en français) J'aime le côté moderne de ce travail avec le rouge la couleur, je pense que nous devons essayer différents sujets à changement de revoir l'aiguille du fil classique .

  5. Hello Mary.This is a good occasion to say , that I follow your work wlth admiration.Now , you describe an interesting book , I remarqued a style of NAIF ART (ART NAIF in french ) I like the modern side of this work with red color , I think that we have to try different subjects to change from classical needle thread .
    bye from Simsima

  6. For some reason it won't let me sign in with my wordpress account…blogger has done that all day….so here again I will try. 3rd time is a charm, I hope.
    My favorite part has changed a bit with each try..but I really do like how K.S. went minimalist with ''the new crewel'', what i had seen before was a heavy handed embroidery technique and I remember those old 70's colors. This is fresh and exciting. People new to embroider will probably take up crewel and intermediate to expert hands may try it again.

    carol kunnerup

  7. Mary
    from what I can see in this book, the images can be used in so many projects, either alone or combined. Thank you again for your generosity in sharing items that we may other wise never get.

  8. Hi Mary,
    I often teach projects to our Sonoma County, CA, chapter of Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Needlework. The designs in The New Crewel would lend themselves to some ancient designs and projects such as an indoor mezuzah (case for the "Shema") or a challah or matzo cover, even a tallit or synagogue piece. I believe I could adapt the projects and stitches in the book.
    Joy Danzig of Santa Rosa, CA (formerly of Prairie Village, KS)

  9. Hello Mary.This is a good occasion to say , that I follow your work wlth admiration.Now , you describe an interesting book , I remarqued a style of NAIF ART (ART NAIF in french ) I like the modern side of this work with red color , I think that we have to try different subjects to change from classical needle thread .
    bye from Simsima

  10. I think I would like to try the Hip Square and sway days and ruby shoots looks interesting. I can't decide if a really nice t-shirt or a crisp white blouse but yes I would love to own the book or rather the book would own me. Thanks Onita Moore

  11. Mary , as i was reading your post about the book "the new crewel", i read "its funky and fun" just my kind of book. i'm not a very modern person but i do like things "a little funky" i reall like the Ruby trees, i'm going to try them next week. please put my name into your hat for a chance to win this fun little book, thanks ahead, Molly

  12. Hi Mary:

    I think what I like most about this book is that it doesn't take itself too seriously; it is full of whimsy and charm and would be so much fun to work from. I LOVE the Mason Jar lids!! We make scrumptions apricot jam every year, and generally gift it to family and friends…I can imagine these tiny motifs worked in orange apricot colors for a few close (lucky) friends and family.

    Carolyn Phillips

  13. Hi Mary.I'will write in french.Le livre me parait trés bien fait en particulier: l'explication des points avec des images et l'application de ces points avec des modéles faciles.Ce livre redonne gout au brodeuses amatteurs à la broderie.MERCI FOR ALL WHAT YOU DO FOR US MARY!

  14. Hi Mary,
    Absolutely the cutest things to embroider in this book. I love the simple patterns and thank you for letting us know about this one.
    Have a great weekend.


  15. Hi,

    I like the fact that it's a totally different 'take on embroidery…. modern, simple, yet beautiful… the 'small size' of the projects will prob make it more possible for me to have 'completed projects' rather than 'work in progress'..

    aaliyah mehdiyah,

  16. I have been looking for a book like this. My creativity has been at a standstill with the local mass market box store kits. I think this book will bring out more things I am capable of doing I have never done crewel embroidery before, but I am ready to start!
    Thanks. Kathy

  17. A new contest what fun! I like the idea of updated ideas for an needleart. If we do not keep growing or art will stagnate and die. Thanks for keeping us all informed. sue

  18. A new contest what fun! I like the idea of updated ideas for an needleart. If we do not keep growing or art will stagnate and die. Thanks for keeping us all informed. sue

  19. Hi Mary – What do I like about the book? Everything – crewel is my favorite type of needlework, but I like to do non-traditional designs of flowers and nature. I like the fact that the designs are different from the traditional Jacobian crewel work, and also that they are small projects that could be finished in a short time!
    Thanks for your generosity, as always!

    Kathy in Kenia

  20. Sandhya said
    Crewel is something I have never learnt. This book caters to different levels of embroiderers, which makes it all the more interesting. There are also small projects that can be completed quickly and that would be just great for working women like me who have little time in the evenings to do something they love.

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