Kashmir is a beautiful land of impeccable arts and crafts. One of the finest and enchanting handicrafts of Kashmir is the Chain Stitch embroidery which is locally popular as crewel embroidery (Aari Kaem). Though there is a slight difference in the two, these names are however alternately used in the local trade.
Chain stitch is done by a hook, locally known as Aari, on white backgrounds. The aari/hook covers a much larger area than needle work in the same amount of time. This embroider is done from one point and rotates around to create an embossed effect on the upholstery and drapery.
Crewel is basically similar to chain stitch. It is also chain stitch done on white background, but here the motifs, mainly stylized flowers, do not cover the entire surface, and the background is not embroidered up completely. Some background space is left as such to create an appealing look.
Coming back to our Chain Stitch, these patterns are highly aesthetic with beautiful colors and motifs being used in them, which are engrossing to the human eye. This beautiful form of embroidery is done by skilled locals of Kashmir to add richness to the textile and is done with wool and on tightly woven fabrics like linen and cotton. Chain Stitch will transform any simple texture to the silkiest texture that has an awe-inspiring luster and feels even better than silk. The chain stitch is mainly in the form of flower motifs embossed on the white colored fabric that offers a calm and rich look to the curtains and other furnishing, especially the gorgeous rugs that are a manifestation of this beautiful and skilful art.
A Brief History:
Crewel got its name from wool which is the yarn being used for the crewel embroidery. Some sources also reveal that the name crewel was derived from the word “Krua” or “Clew” which means a ball of yarn. There are different beliefs about Crewel embroidery getting its name but all the sources reveals that it has something to do with yarn. This technique has very rich history dating back to around 1st Century BC. The art got its fame and recognition only in 16th and 17th century. Later on many different embroidery styles emerged and many of them found their place in India and abroad but the popularity of Crewel and chain stitch didn’t fade at all. The crewel embroidery in earlier times was done only with wool and the fabric used was linen but later on many other yarns like silk and fabrics like cotton and wool were involved in the crewel embroidery.
Chain Stitch Handmade Rugs: Kashmiri Handmade Rugs done in the chain stitch pattern are brilliance unparalleled. These chain stitch patterned rugs are in great demand all over the world because of the high quality of embroidery done on them. These exquisite pieces of art are also used as wall hangings to impart an artistic appeal to the walls. As beautiful and impressive these rugs look, the process that is undertaken to finish them is equally appealing.
The white colored fabric used traditionally for this embroidery is first washed and ironed to get an even surface on the fabric and also to avoid any shrinkage in future.
The design for embroidery is then printed on the fabric before starting any needle work. The design is screen printed on the fabric and many other stencil printing techniques are also used now. The temporary printing on the fabric can also be done with a pricking method where the dotted outline is formed by pricking through the design printed on the paper.
Once the design is fixed, the crewel embroidery is carried out from centre to the outline to form velvet like finish.
The frame or hoop is the prime requirement for this kind of embroidery as it tightens the fabric. This embroidery may be required to be done with both the hands and hence a large rectangular frame is used for large piece of work. These rectangular frames are the part of the furniture for any Kashmiri household.
Chain Stitch Design Patterns
Chain stitch is done in long flowing designs. The designs range from floral patterns to animals and human forms traced by designers while the craftsman embroidery is in two-ply or three-ply yarns. Silk yarn is also used in the embroidery and the rug looks like a carpet in which the pile is substituted by the texture. Beautiful floral motifs, small and enlarged, mystic birds and colorful butterflies all inspire the artisan’s cult.
Chain stitch rugs are used both as floor covering and wall hanging. These handmade rugs come in the size 2x3, 3x5, 6x4, 8x12, and 9x12 feet.
The craft is also available on Bedspreads, Cushion Covers, Throws, Shams, Curtain Drops, and Duvet/Quilt Covers in various sizes ranging from single to king size.
As one of the most celebrated traditional handicrafts of Kashmir, chain stitch and crewel embroidery, whether it is done on cotton, wool or linen upholsteries and tapestries is trending throughout the world. During the past 60 years, crewel-embroidered fabric has become an integral part of decorative home textile collections in upscale interior design showrooms globally.
Checkout the latest collection of intricately crafted Chain Stitch Marvels from the land of Kashmir.