I will admit it – I have been embroidering for nearly 40 years now, and over that time I am proud to say that I have mastered most of the stitches I use in my work. However, there is one group of stitches that I just cannot get the hang of.
No matter how hard I try, how much I practice, or even trying different methods of execution, for some reason, I just cannot get knotted stitches to work. Mostly – French Knots and Bullion Knots.
What is most frustrating about all this – I adore bullion knot roses. I think they are just so exquisite, and at age 9 when I was learning embroidery, I wanted to learn how to make them.
I know that it wasn’t because my grandma’s teaching – she taught me what I know and did absolutely beautiful bullion roses and French knots. I do know how to do them, but for some reason, the how doesn’t translate to my hands and execution.
I’ve used a few ways to get around this inability to do a good French Knot. One of the ways is to use a small bead instead. Or use another type of filling stitch. Or, the best way, is my dear friend K. She does beautiful French Knots. And is one of the people who has tried to teach me.
No that’s not to say that I haven’t done any myself. The current piece I am working on contains some French Knots. Some of them have worked but mostly they are not to the standard of the rest of the stitching (in my opinion). But – at least they are all recognisable as knots. So many times, my efforts result in what looks like a seed stitch, or a twisted sticky-up bit of thread. Not a nice, neat knot.
As for bullions – let’s not even go there. My attempts at these are not even recognisable as bullion knots!
I have managed coral stitch (running stitch with knots in it) and it doesn’t look too bad on the whole.
However, K has now set me a challenge. She is determined that I shall master the French Knot (at the very least). I have a book called Tudor Treasures to Embroider and in it is a roundel made entirely of French Knots.
K has challenged me to embroider this piece – on the theory that by the end of it I shall have overcome my dread of them at the least, and learned how to do good ones at the very best.
I shall let you know how I go!
So – what about you? Is there a stitch or technique that you just can’t make work? Tell us in the forum!
French Knot Pictures (Milner Craft)
Portuguese Whitework: Bullion Embroidery from Guimaraes
The Embroiderer's Handbook
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© 2013 Megan McConnell