All my life I have been in love with leaves.   Yes, of course, flowers are nice and certainly trees are great – really great because they produce beautiful leaves...  But for me, it is leaves.  Ah, yes, leaves.  Any leaves.  Spring leaves with that great spring green colour, wilting summer leaves and the colourful leaves of fall.  Dead leaves too.  The ones with chopped edges and holes and wrinkles black spots, spending their final days in a puddle of water about to freeze.  I love them all.

Taking a walk near leaves is not necessarily pleasant for my walking companions.  Frequent stops and bend downs make a block-long walk boringly slow for them.

Leaves are found in surprise places all over the house.  In drawers, books under tables, on the mantel piece, above the kitchen sink.

You are probably wondering what all this has to do with embroidery. Of course, embroidery is the common denominator here.  Bear with me, I am getting to that.

Early in my twenties I came across a piece of crewel needlework that included leaves.  I was overwhelmed with fascination and totally confused as to how the leaves were stitched.  Where did you start?  How did you get that wonderful shading?  How were the veins stitched?
One of my life journeys was established.  Find out how to do this and do it!

Not so easy, I found.  Every needlework shop and yarn shop on my path I asked about lessons for crewel embroidery. Nothing. This was in the late sixties and early seventies in Vancouver.  I knew I would find it eventually, if I kept at it!

My first finding was a book.  I had just joined the ‘Book of the Month Club.’
Lo, in the first catalogue there was Erica Wilson’s Embroidery Book.  I think I read every word and studied every picture, every illustration, every diagram over and over and over.
I had done the usual stitching as a child.  The kitten tea towels, the printed pillow cases.  But, crewel was different, not thread, but wool. Imagine! Where do you get this stuff?  Had no idea. At the time some American magazines had tempting mail order kits but none of them crewel.  I ordered them and diligently completed them. But I still wanted to do crewel leaves.

Life continued and got very busy but crewel embroidery was still near the top of the bucket list.
In the early eighties I moved to Winnipeg.  By then I had become an avid knitter and shortly after arriving I knew the location of every yarn shop in the city.  I continued to ask about crewel embroidery in these shops.  After all, ‘crewel’ meant wool, someone had to know something.
I found it in the ‘The Good Wool Shop’ on Corydon Avenue.  No, they did not
do crewel embroidery but THEY KNEW SOMEONE WHO DID!  My AHA! moment had come!

Marjorie Mitchell lived two blocks from The Good Wool Shop and she sometimes worked in the shop.  I finally met her and convinced her to teach me how to do crewel embroidery and in particular, leaves.  Marjorie, rather reluctantly, set up a class for six students; I was totally hooked.

This lead to the Winnipeg Embroiderer’s Guild and a whole new world of
embroidery.  I have not done crewel embroidery for a while – other forms of embroidery have taken my interest.  Presently, I am working at needlepainting – aged eyes and arthritis are making this a true challenge.

My best piece of crewel embroidery is shown here.


The stool was designed by a friend.  I have all the Appleton crewel wool colours.  I spread them out in the living room and selected colours to match the rug and furnishings.
In the centre of the stool is a sizable bump.  Not really visible, but it can be felt.  The history of the bump leads to the name of the stool – the Oliver stool.  Believe it or not, the stool has won three awards in spite of the bump. (Attached underneath the stool top is a plastic envelope with all the awards.)

If you want to know about how the bump came to be, you will have to go to my facebook page, ‘Letters to Jennifer From Maudie and Oliver’ by Sharon Gray.  You will find the picture of the stool and the story of The Oliver Stool.

I have been told it is a very good read.

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The Embroiderers' Association of Canada (EAC) is a national non-profit educational organization whose purpose is to have a fellowship of persons who enjoy needlework and wish to learn and share their knowledge; and thereby to work towards maintaining higher standards of design, colour and workmanship.

Our aim is to preserve traditional techniques and promote new challenges in the Art of Embroidery through education and networking.

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