The French knot is a stitching technique used in a variety of embroidery crafts, such as counted cross stitch. Typically, a single French knot is used to accent or embellish embroidered elements, such as dotting a letter of the alphabet, or to add an eye to an embroidered figure. Sometimes, the French knot is duplicated in a series to create a decorative edging or in lines to form the outline of an object, such as a flower. French knots also commonly serve as connecting loops in the open sections of needle lace.
By definition, a knotted stitch of any type simply means that the thread is pulled through the embroidered material and then knotted around itself. Here are the basic steps to making a French knot:
1. Using a threaded needle, push the needle through the back of the fabric and pull it through to the front.
2. Wrap the thread around the needle three or four times, holding the thread taut.
3. Position the needle immediately next to the point where it came through the fabric the first time. Then push the needle back into the fabric, again keeping the wrapped thread taut.
4. Finally, pull the needle through the knot to complete the French Knot.
The French knot is known by several other names, including wound stitch, French dot and twisted knot stitch. The types of yarn or thread that can be used to make French knots are just as varied. In fact, it’s possible to create different effects and considerable contrast in the same design by using different sized thread. The thicker the thread, then the larger the French knot will be.
Learning how to make a French knot may take a bit of practice at first. In fact, it’s a good idea to work on a piece of scrap fabric before applying the technique to a sample that is to become a finished piece. Also, many people find it helpful to use a loop to secure the fabric and hold it tight when making French knots.
Although the arrival of the embroidery machine in 1828 meant that embroidered items could be quickly produced on a commercial scale, embroidery is a craft that is still performed by hand today. For that matter, it is considered an art form to be taught to and passed from one generation to the next in many parts of the world. Among other stitching techniques, the French knot is often one of the first learned by new students.