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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Crewel Creatures – Hazel, on the Wild(er) Side


Amazon Books

If you’re one of those stitchers who loves surface embroidery in extravagant designs full texture, patterns, color, sparkle and beads, you may already be familiar with Hazel Blombkamp’s series of books featuring projects that hint at a Jacobean flavor, but are totally modern.

Hazel’s “crewel” books – punnily titled – focus not on crewel embroidery, but rather on fabulous and ornate stylized floral and similar surface embroidery designs. The projects are worked with a variety of mostly cotton threads in fantastic stitch and filling combinations.

Always fanciful, sometimes flamboyant, Hazel’s designs are wildly ingenious when it comes to her use of patterned and textured elements.

With her latest book, Crewel Creatures, she steps over (or just barely scoots over a hair?) to the wild side! The book highlights six curious creatures worked in a style that is definitely All Hazel.

Crewel Creatures by Hazel Blomkamp

In Crewel Creatures, you’ll find a new twist on Hazel’s unique style. In Crewel Intentions and Crewel Twists, both of which I’ve reviewed here on Needle ‘n Thread, the projects are somewhat traditional in their floral forms, but delightfully mixed with modern in their interpretation.

In Crewel Creatures, the stylized elements find a new home within the framework of wildlife, namely a tortoise, an ostrich, an owl, an elephant, a snake, and a rhino.

You can still expect that florals and fillings – they’re just in a new, fun framework.

Crewel Creatures by Hazel Blomkamp

Like any good book, Crewel Creatures begins with an introduction, wherein Hazel tells us what inspired the exploration of animals stitched in her unique style.

I remember right before her kit Owlfred came out, Hazel told me how, while traveling, she had come across a “steam punk” owl that inspired her to draw up her own version, which resulted in Owlfred, independently available in his own kit and not part of this particular book. I was delighted to read the story again!

Crewel Creatures by Hazel Blomkamp

The other beginning matter of the book consists of all the basic requirements for this type of embroidery, from threads to fabrics to tools. Here, you’ll find a good overview of the goods necessary to successfully work the embroidery projects in the book.

Crewel Creatures by Hazel Blomkamp

Following all the introductory material, we delve into techniques for stitching the projects.

The next several sections are comprised of clear diagrams for surface embroidery stitches…

Crewel Creatures by Hazel Blomkamp

…for all kinds of bead embroidery techniques…

Crewel Creatures by Hazel Blomkamp

…(with a nice selection of enticing close-ups along the way)…

Crewel Creatures by Hazel Blomkamp

…lots of needle lace techniques…

Crewel Creatures by Hazel Blomkamp

…and plenty of woven filling techniques with a variety of charted filling patterns.

Crewel Creatures by Hazel Blomkamp

Then we move straight into the projects. Each project is introduced by a full photo of the finished project…

Crewel Creatures by Hazel Blomkamp

…along with some very nice close-ups!

Crewel Creatures by Hazel Blomkamp

With each project, you’ll find a complete materials list.

Crewel Creatures by Hazel Blomkamp

And then you’ll find the step-by-step walk-through for working the project.

As in Hazel’s other books, this part is generally presented with photos that highlight each section to be completed, followed by written instructions on how to complete it, referring to the various stitches and techniques that were presented in the first half of the book.

Crewel Creatures by Hazel Blomkamp

For projects, besides the turtle already mentioned, you’ll find this ostrich, which features a lot of needle lace in muted tones – and some pretty snazzy slippers…

Crewel Creatures by Hazel Blomkamp

…this owl…

Crewel Creatures by Hazel Blomkamp

…a snake, which makes me shudder a bit despite the gloss (I have an aversion to the things, no matter how ornate they may be!)…

Crewel Creatures by Hazel Blomkamp

…an elephant that puts Dumbo to shame…

Crewel Creatures by Hazel Blomkamp

…and a rather fantastic rhino!

Six projects in all, just waiting for you!

The book ends with the patterns for the six projects in clean, traceable line drawings.

In a Nutshell

Crewel Creatures is definitely for the adventurous stitcher who loves color, texture, beads, bling, lots of stitches, and a fun challenge! The variety of stitches and techniques, colors and patterns within each project is so extensive that there’s just no way you could get bored while working any of them!

I’d say the book is for beyond-beginner level, but I always hold that your level of determination has a lot to do with whether or not you can tackle a project successfully, even if it’s the first time you’ve picked up a needle!

The book covers a whole heap of techniques. Even if you’re not getting it for the projects themselves, you’ll find within its pages a lot of good instruction and fun inspiration.

Where to Find It

Crewel Creatures has not been released yet. It comes out this month, though! So now’s the time to get your pre-order in!

You can find Crewel Creatures available right now for pre-order through the following book affiliates:

For stitchers in the US, I’ve listed Crewel Creatures in the first spot here on my Amazon Recommendations page, where you’ll also find Hazel’s other books listed, along with other stitching goodies (mostly books, but some tools, too).

Worldwide with free shipping, you’ll find Crewel Creatures available here at Book Depository.

You can also purchase kits that go along with the projects in this book directly from Hazel, here. They’re coming from South Africa, so make sure you’re aware of currency conversions, conversion fees, and shipping costs!


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(22) Comments

  1. Mary, thank you for your lovely words. May I just add that anyone ordering packs from us here in South Africa needs to be aware that international airmail takes a minimum of three weeks from the date of posting. We endeavour to get your orders out as quickly as we can – striving for the same day but depending on our order load, sometimes a day or two longer. We can’t speed up the post office, though. No one can. If you ask for your parcel to be shipped by courier, it gets to you in about a week but you need to be aware that you will have to pay handling costs at your end – about 35% of the value of the parcel, depending on your country. We’re a long way from the rest of the world.

  2. Thank you for the closeups of the critters, Mary. I knew this was coming out soon and have had it in mind. I have her other two “Crewel” books and her needle weaving and needle lace books as well. Her projects are delightful (I wish I could take a class with her as she sounds quite the engaging character and teacher). More needle dreams! I love love love your book reviews…

  3. I love this. Makes the animals more unique than ever. I would have never thought to color them in like this. They are so pretty. Thanks for showing this.

  4. Mary, what a feast for the eyes. Okay, now tell me what stitch was that used for Norman’s legs? I am such a sucker for anything even without the wool thread done with crewelish delight! Hazel…wow! I’ve gone to your site and am now drooling over your kits. I especially love that you do both a thread and bead kit separately!

  5. Oh I love the rhino!

    Mary I noticed in one of the pictures it calls for DMC Dentelles 80. I’ve never heard of that, could you me more about it?

  6. Just ordered it because of the owl. I do some embroidery but have been quilting and appliquing, I want to turn that owl into a combination of applique and embroidery. Love you blog!

  7. Gina, DMC Dentelles is also know as DMC tatting thread. Generally found in either the crochet section or wherever they hide the tatting supplies…

    Now does anyone know which design is in the third picture? The one with the feathers on the turquoise background and the red and white needleweaving?

    1. That turquoise background, red and white needleweaving (actually dark pink and cream) is a bird that I was busy on when the photo shoot for Crewel Creatures was done. Possibly for a stand alone kit, maybe for a whole book of birds, still thinking about it. It’s actually not finished as between then and now I have collaborated with Di van Niekerk on a whole book of mandalas, so only went back to it a few weeks ago.

  8. Good to read a review of this book. I’ve had it on order since, well, forever and it’s finally arriving this week (hopefully. Just hexed it now.) I’m looking forward to it, especially the new technique (for me) of beaded flowers.

    Need to agree with whomever asked above: which design is it that’s in the background of the third photo? Nothing from Crewel Creatures as far as I can see and not from Crewel Intentions either. As yet unpublished? An animal that didn’t make it into the book? A crewel tiger? A crewel meerkat? Questions, questions… and now I’d like to know who or what. 😉

  9. Oh, this is going on my wish list along with a kit for the turtle or rhino. I also am tempted by Hazel’s designs but I am still a beginner. But these are fantastic, I might just have to go for it!

  10. Hello Mary,
    Thanks to make me discover this book and these nice embroideries. I ‘ve just received it this morning! So excited to start …I’ve chosen Janet, surprising because I’m afraid of snakes but this one seems to be envouting and smiling.
    With this rain that never ends here, I will be able to forget the sadness.
    Looking forward to reading you soon, I really like your newsletter.
    Bye, Cecile

  11. Wow, these are so inspiring, I am currently working on a unicorn and struggling to find a filling stitch for the horn. I am wondering what stitch is used for the elephant tusks. I can’t zoom in enough to tell. Any suggestions would be MUCH appreciated. I’ve learned so much through your tutorials!

  12. Loving your designs they are interesting and full of fun. Owls are my favorite and yours looks like an intense raptor after its prey. Hoping u enjoy a great response to this . Regards Dianne Perth WA

  13. I received my book over the weekend. Having trouble deciding on starting with the rhino or the tortoise. This book, unlike the ones previous, doesn’t say how big to enlarge the patterns. How do I figure this out?


  14. Mary: What a great review! Not long ago I came close to ordering this but for some reason chose another book. After seeing your review it’s much more interesting to me. What fun designs in this book. I always enjoy your book reviews because you really give the most complete review available, with a lot of information and good photos on each book, which helps me know what to expect and whether it fits my needs and wants. Thank you.

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