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French Knot

This is the most common knot used in basic embroidery, it can be found in needlework around the world, and has existed for a very long time. Much of the time the knot is used to fill in an area where other stitches won’t fit. Brazilian embroidery often uses the knot to create the fine greenery of a bouquet. It is a versatile stitch because the size of the knot can be adjusted by the type of thread and number of strands used by the stitcher. The knot is created by wrapping the thread around the needle and then going back through the fabric near where the needle came up through the fabric.

French Knot

French Knot Diagram

A topic of debate is how many wraps should be made to constitute a French Knot. Some say only one wrap, like Marion Scuolar in her Advice Is… book. Others say only two wraps. What we do know for sure is that adding wraps actually makes the knot taller and less stable. To make your knot larger, add more strands of thread or use a thicker thread.

The Pekinese stitch is now thought to be what was once called the Pekin Knot or Chinese Forbidden or Blind stitch. Young ladies were forbidden to do the stitch because it would strain their eyesight due to how fine the stitching was. The knots were created with thin filaments (much finer than a ply) and used to completely fill in an area. In the Chung Young Yang Embroidery Museum there is an embroidered tassel with over 100 Pekin stitches per square centimeter, about 0.4 inches.

If more than two wraps are used, it is now a Bullion knot. This is a popular knot especially in Brazilian embroidery, such as the Grandiose Mum.

You want your French knots to be uniform. They should be round with a dimple on top. It does not matter whether you have your needle in front of the thread or behind the thread when you make your wraps. What is important that you do it the same way every time.

Lastly, do not put your needle down the same fabric hole you came up. Move over one or two fabric threads.

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