From the safety of a grid--canvas and tent stitch--, as I learnt it from my grandmother, I moved on to the free motion work of crewel embroidery. What you find most often is a conservation of past techniques, Jacobean patterns and stitches, almost unknown in Germany. There are examples of wool embroidery on pillow tops and knit clothes, but nobody does that any more over here. In the English speaking countries, the tradition lives, thank the Lord, because where else would I get crewel wool from? Yet, if I look at today's crewel embroidery--however beautiful, this kind of embroidery got stuck in tradition. And let me make the remark that a lot of this stuff is darn boring. I feel that the wonderful freedom that lies in wool embroidery is not fully exploited. Not many artists make use of the potential of this technique, nor have I in the past -- exept in some attempts to use templates of modern classics like Kandinsky.
I continued working on the new project, moving away some distance from the Estonian original; this is because the technique allows me to make a free hand drawing on the fabric and to use the colour that just comes to my mind, and this way I surprise myself with the result. The shapes look a little distorted by the frame which pulled on some parts. I made the drawing on the relaxed fabric, so it will return into the inteded shapes like circles and squares after loosening the frame.
I had a strong motivation to work on it in the hotel in Turkey. Yet, I was a little ashamed because textile craft in Turkey is on a high level. Women are practised and skilful, and I, cultivating irregularities, was not sure whether these might be seen as a lack of my abilities, so I explained my work as "peasants' craft". To my surprise, the cook (a man) looked at my work with great interest; then he said that this looked like the work of Turkish nomads.
This pleased me greatly.
Some more crewel embroidery:
Charm of the primitive | Modern crewel embroidery | Katherine Shaugnessy