Crewel Whimsy by Ana Mallah

10th May 2019

Colour. Everywhere you look, you are assailed with colour and colour combinations. From the green of mountains framed against a blue sky to the subtle variation of pinks in the heart of a rose, colour fills our world. But colour also has a profound effect on the mood and appearance of an object. The same rose in vibrant red or soft peach creates a range of different emotions, even aside from their common symbolic meanings.

Just as there are an infinite number of colour combinations, there are also an infinite number of feelings towards those combinations. Closely associated with this are our individual personalities. How many times have you heard people say they are a ‘pink person’ or a ‘purple person’ but not a ‘yellow person’?  What makes one person ‘pink’ but not ‘yellow’? This is a complicated matter of personal taste, the way an individual views colour and history and experience.

In the project Crewel Whimsy by Ana Mallah from Inspirations issue #102, Ana demonstrates how different colour can produce different moods. She starts with a traditional flower shape drawn from historical crewel design. She then fills it with a range of stitches which would not have been out of place in a Jacobean work room – stem stitch, satin stitch and trellis couching. Then she introduces colour, as she’s worked the flower with an unexpected range of purples, lilacs and soft pinks. This initial piece is subtle and soft, but don’t stop there.

Turn over a few pages and there is the same design in rich rose pinks. Same shape – completely different mood.

Very often we are afraid to play with colour, fearful that we might ‘get it wrong’. We rely on talented designers to tell us what colour to use and where. However, the lesson you can learn from Crewel Whimsy is that facing that fear and trying out a new colour palette can have a profound effect. Not a rose person or a lilac person?

All you need to do is study how Ana has transposed one colour to another and then, choosing your favourite hue, have a try at working the design again.

The fact that Crewel Whimsy is simple to work and highly achievable allows you the possibility of stitching it over and over. Scared your colour choice won’t work? Try doing a ‘floss toss’, (or in this case, a ‘wool toss’). Gather the colours you have chosen and lay them down together on your natural linen to see how they fit. And then thread up and give it a try.

Both flowers have been stitched on neutral linen and one was designed to adorn the front of a journal – imagine the face of the recipient of the journal when you have selected their favourite colours, and lovingly worked the traditional stitches to create something unique, just for them! Once you’ve started with Ana’s suggested combinations, how about blues, golds, reds or a combination of many colours? As well as creating an embroidered piece you will have created an emotion. And just maybe you’ll see that by playing with colour you’ve actually made magic.

Make Your Own Crewel Whimsy

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Crewel Whimsy by Ana Mallah is a pretty journal cover with gorgeous crewel flower design in two colourways.

Printed Magazines

Inspirations Issue 102

Digital Patterns

Crewel Whimsy

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kits

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kits for Crewel Whimsy include everything you need to re-create these elegant book covers: Fabrics (unprinted), embroidery threads and needle.


Crewel Whimsy: Pink Flower – i102 Kit


Crewel Whimsy: Purple Flower – i102 Kit

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