When Helen Richman of The Bluebird Embroidery Company first shared the design of her new Crewel Work Chaffinch kit at the end of January 2018 I e-mailed Helen straight away as I just had to get one.

Due to studying for the RSN certificate it has taken me until now to stitch it but I loved stitching it and the final result.

The kit comes with the linen twill fabric pre-printed with the design, five complete skeins of Appleton wool and two chenille needles (size 22 and 24). You also need an 8-inch embroidery hoop (bound if possible) and some embroidery scissors. The design just fits the 8-inch hoop so make sure it is perfectly centred before you start stitching as otherwise you might end of stitching the fabric to your bound embroidery hoop! I also ended up using a size 20 chenille needle as well as I found that the Appleton wool frays much less with a bigger hole in the fabric and it doesn’t show provided you don’t leave your needle in the fabric for any length of time. One of the RSN tutors taught me this trick and it has saved from a lot of frustration with the Appleton wool!

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The kit is aimed at beginners and embroiderers with some experience. I did find that I used a lot of the things I have learned when stitching my certificate crewelwork project. I, for instance, changed the order of work, to make it easier for myself and to also spread out the large number of split stitches and seeding stitches in the design. However, you do need to know what you are doing if you want to do that. I wouldn’t recommend this kit to a complete beginner to work on your own without a class, but it is perfect for someone with at least a little bit of experience. Moreover, it is such a fun design that I think even embroiderers with a considerable amount of experience will enjoy it too!

This is the third kit of Helen’s I have stitched and the instructions are always very detailed, although I did find that I was using them far less this time around as I knew what I was doing for most of it. The one thing that I did find a little bit confusing about the instructions was that when the photographs were taken the project wasn’t stitched in the same order as the instructions, which meant that some areas were already stitched in the photographs when they hadn’t been in the instructions.

Helen’s kits also come with plenty of threads so there is no fear of running out if you do need to unstitch something. I did have some arguments with the satin stitch in this design. As with my certificate project, I never seem to get it at a perfect 45-degree angle without any nibbles, even with tucking the needle underneath the previous stitch.

The other thing that I still find tricky is to keep finding spots to hide the holding- and finishing stitches. As some of the lines are really thin in this project it is, especially towards the tail end of the bird, very tricky to hide those stitches. One tip is to try and hide them one a design line that will be covered by stitches in the same (or darker) colour as they will be far less noticeable!

I love the combination of stitches that Helen has used in designing the chaffinch. It really creates the illusion of feathers and a 3d effect of a bird in flight.

I really enjoyed stitching this project. The first one, since last October, not being assessed.! I had intended on taking a rather relaxed approach about it and not worry about any mistakes. However, I couldn’t let go of all the things I have learned so far and I was being really hard on myself trying to make it look perfect. I think it took me about three weeks to complete in total, stitching a couple of hours each evening and each weekend.



Posted by:Marlous

16 replies on “‘My’ Chaffinch

    1. Thank you Dima! It is a great kit for practise as many of the stitch combinations I hadn’t thought of before, and it is great to see how they work and what they look like.


  1. Well done Marlous! It’s a really lovely design, and you’ve stitched it so well. I know what you mean about needing to keep up your RSN standard, even if you want to do something relaxing. It’s a good sign I think!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is great to do some recreational stitching just for fun and not for assessment isn’t it. Your little bird is lovely and very well stitched. Congratulations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sally! Yes, it is so much more relaxing! Are you going to do some recreational stitching soon, or do you need a break from 8 weeks summer intensive?


  3. This is gorgeous! I loved reading about your progress and seeing the slideshow. I’ve never done any crewelwork but I’ve always loved the look of it. Thank you for your honest review of the kit too, I always wonder what they are like. I have had some bad experiences before and it is always disappointing to me when the colours do not match up with the kit image. Glad you kept going, your Chaffinch is delightful and the seed stitches are such a delicate touch!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Aurelia! It is really nice to hear you like following my progress and that I maybe have convinced you to try a crewelwork kit. I always believe in honest reviews. It is still just my opinion and others might feel differently but I always hope that people find them useful. Most kits are ordered online and you haven’t really got a chance to see what they are like before buying, so I hope my experience will help people.


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