|French knots and other hand embroidery stitches decorate
Jane LaFazio's quiltlets.
All these new TV shows about fairy tale characters in the contemporary world casting spells and carrying out age-old vendettas has me thinking: If an evil fairy/stepmother/witch cursed me so that I was left with ability to create only one hand embroidery stitch, what would it be?
I wouldn't have to think very long—in that split second before the wand flicked its malevolent sparks my way, I'd choose the French knot.
There are several reasons why I'd pick the French knot over, say, the buttonhole stitch (which is so useful for edging) or the backstitch (which can create lines).
First, the French knot gives you a lot of textural bang for your buck. French knots literally rise above the other basic embroidery stitches, popping right off the fabric.
Second, you've heard the term "connect the dots"? Well, you can make a series of French knots close together to form a line or map out a shape, like a constellation.
|How to make a French knot like the ones dotting Jane's flower.|
Third, French knots stitched close together will fill in a shape and provide shading, especially if you vary the thread colors.
Fourth, French knots are very organic. Depending on the color, size, and placement, this embroidery stitch can serve as a lone blossom, a scattered field of flowers, or the honeycombed center of sunflower.
Fifth, they're just so much fun to make. I love winding the fiber around the needle, piercing the fabric, and then pulling the thread through to create that perfect little knot. The motion is so relaxing and satisfying.
Here are some tips for making a French knot.
1. The general rule is, don't wind the thread or fiber around the needle more than twice. If you want a bigger knot, use a thicker thread.
2. After wrapping the thread, place the point of the needle right next to the place it came up from, rather than back in the same hole. That way, the knot will stay anchored on top and not slip right through to the back of the fabric.
3. To add dimension to your French knots, use a variegated thread.
Pick up just about any back issue of Quilting Arts and you'll probably find at least one French knot somewhere within the pages. But one of my favorite articles is Jane LaFazio's piece on embroidered quiltets in the October/November 2009 issue. There, she shows the versatility of the French knot, as well as several other embroidery stitches like the blanket stitch, backstitch, and more.
What's your favorite hand embroidery stitch, and why? Could you limit yourself to one? Tell me about it in the comments section below.