We are pleased to present...
By Rita Vainius
Click here for her FREE PATTERN
Hook grew up in Melrose, MA, a characteristic New England town,
not far from her present home in historic Salem, MA, widely known
as the Halloween capital of the world. Carolyn's father made
his living from the sea and her mother was a professional seamstress.
As an experienced craftswoman, Carolyn's mother was called upon
to sew and tailor clothes and also to fashion more formal garments
such as wedding gowns, which she skillfully embellished with
elaborate embroidery and other decoration. Thus was Carolyn exposed
to quality in the needlearts at a very early age. As a young
child, Carolyn watched her mother sewing and wanted to "make"
something too. She learned some embroidery basics and stitched
ever so diligently using her first hoop made from cardboard.
Her enthusiasm for needlework has never subsided. She continued
under the expert tutelage of her mother, which gave her a firm
foundation on which to build. Experimenting on her own, she became
self taught in various other stitching techniques. Carolyn went
on to attend classes at the Elsa Williams School of Needle Art
to fine tune techniques she was already adept in and expand into
other forms of needlework. Under under the instruction of Shuji
Tamura, Carolyn studied Japanese Embroidery and graduated the
ten phases in 1988.
Twenty one years ago, Carolyn opened the needlework store,
"It's a Crewel World," by which time she was well versed
in many aspects of needlework. In addition to running the shop,
she taught several classes in different techniques and was an
accomplished designer in her own right. It's a Crewel World began
as actually only half of a shop in Boston, sharing space with
a knit shop. When the shop relocated to Salem, it was to another
tiny space which quickly became crammed with every cross-stitch
leaflet known to man or woman, as well as all the best handpainted
needlepoint canvases. The next move was to a building with a
staggering 10,000 square feet of space. This was the historic
Gothic Revival Daniel Low and Co. structure.
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every
purpose under heaven," (Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3).
So too, for Carolyn, the seasons are changing and it is time
for her to move on. The most dramatic change she has made is
closing her shop, It's a Crewel World, much to the dismay and
chagrin of stitchers who have become accustomed to it being their
"home away from home." She is embarking on a new phase
of her life, one in which she plans to devote much more time
to designing. She has also made herself available for creating
stitch guides for handpainted needlepoint canvases. Many renowned
handpainted designers are already queuing up to take advantage
of her talents and expertise. Carolyn's original designs will
be marketed under her own name and the name of her design business,
Crewel and Unusual Designs. She is using her former retail space
for her design work and continues to service her mail order clientele
from there as well. How appropriate that her building actually
housed the first mail order house in America!
The guest book of It's A Crewel World has, under Carolyn's
stewardship, amassed names which constitute a "Who's Who"
of the needlework world. Carolyn will always treasure the special
memories associated with her retail adventure. But, right now
her attention is riveted in a new direction, and once Carolyn
decides on a course of action, her focus is on that goal, rather
than looking back.
Carolyn's range of talents can not be easily defined just
by the different hats she has worn as shop owner, teacher and
designer. Her skills include a rare combination of technical
expertise, creative talent and business savvy. Additionally,
she is a reputed writer, having authored Fiber Fantasy, First and Second Editions. She is currently
at work on the Third Edition, due out later this year.
These are color comparison books for needlework threads on today's
market and constitute an invaluable resource book for dedicated
Because of her intuitive talent for understanding the qualities
of different fibers and the use of color, Carolyn's mental imagery
of a design evolves very closely to her initial design idea.
Carolyn explains this ability, " Nearly always, I visualize
the design in my mind and the end result is usually what I've
envisioned, though it may vary slightly in a change of color
value or perhaps a stitch." Her designs include many florals,
which are realistic in expression, yet somewhat stylized and
Jacobean in genre. They often are executed in traditional Japanese
embroidery, of which she is a master craftswoman. Carolyn's florals
tend to reflect realistic coloration corresponding to traditional
Jacobean colors. She elaborates on her technique, "I use
crewel embroidery, especially long and short stitch to achieve
shading and to create the effect of "painting" on fabric
with threads. I use various crewel stitches to create dimension."
Carolyn's design expertise covers a wide range of techniques,
but she is best known for her work in crewel, Japanese embroidery,
counted needlepoint and Hardanger. Crewel especially provides
the most freedom for her creative artistry, allowing her to use
her drawing and painting skills. She finds the creative expression
which needlework affords to be endlessly inspiring, therapeutic
and fulfilling. Carolyn's fervent wish is, " In this day
of "high tech" that this art will pass on to our children
so that they may pass it on to their children and keep it living
for generations to come."
For more information on Carolyn Hook's work and Crewel and
Unusual Designs, see your favorite needlework retailer or contact
Carolyn at 231 Essex Street, Salem, MA 01970. A catalog of current
designs is available for $3.50
Phone: (978) 745- 9696 / Fax: (978) 741- 7735