After sharing the progress on my sheep project last Sunday – and all those French Knots, I thought I would share with you some of the tips I have picked up for working them as part of the Certificate at the RSN. I know a lot of people don’t really enjoy them, although it is probably not quite as extreme as with bullion knots!
Working French Knots is a lot easier if you have both hands available to stitch with – so you have seat frame or a frame you can attach to a table. If you don’t have one of these, but you would like to try stitching with both hands when working French Knots (or any embroidery for that matter), you can use a heavy book to hold down one side of your hoop, with the side you are working on hanging over the edge of the table so you can stitch. I’m not sure about the long term functionality of this, but it might help to give you an idea of what it is like to stitch with both hands, rather than having one hand that is holding the hoop and one stitching hand. As good as frames like the Elbesee seat and table ones are that I use, they aren’t overly cheap. If you have a small (and clean!!) clamp lying around, you might be able to use that to ‘attach’ your hoop to your table also. You can probably pick up cheap clamps in a hardware store.
Whether you choose to set yourself up hands free or not is obviously your choice, but the below is worked with me having both hands free to stitch.
I have also for the first time ‘filmed’ myself stitching and explained the process. I have no real idea what I am doing when doing this, it was all a bit of an experiment! I also have a cold, so I apologise for the stuffy nose in advance. So all a bit of fun, but I couldn’t work out how to photograph each step.
Step by step workings for French Knots
After securing your thread in your chosen manner (waste knot, knotting the end of your thread, weaving it into prior worked stitches), bring your needle to the front at the position of where you would like your knot to be placed.
Wrap your thread around the needle once.
Insert your needle back into the fabric a short distance from where you started (a millimetre or two). Don’t go back into the same hole, as you will end up with nothing on top and a small knot on the back! Tighten the wrap around the needle and keeping the thread taut, gently pull the thread through to the underside of the fabric.
If you want bigger knots, use more than a single strand or a thicker thread. Technically a French knot has only one wrap, although you will frequently see instructions calling for multiple wrap French Knots in order to achieve bigger knots. I too do this, as all of those knots on the sheep are done with more than one wrap! I personally don’t see a problem with this, but it just isn’t technically a French knot! I don’t know what it is called either sorry….
Tips and tricks
There’s only one that I can really think of! And that is to hold the thread nice and taut with one hand whilst gently pulling the thread through. Doing this seems to result in even,’non-loopy’ (highly technical word!) Knots.
And the video!
And here’s my first video of a stitch! I’m afraid I couldn’t work out how to minimise the size of the file, so I’ve worked You Tube out and popped it on over there! Sorry for being so technologically challenged!
What are your tricks for creating these little guys? Do you love them or loathe them?
13 thoughts on “Step by Step – French Knots”
Love them, as you know!!
Me too. Such a great way to achieve texture!
The technical RSN-used term for a ‘French’ knot with more than one wrap was (still is?) a bastard knot :).
Oh thanks Jessica! I doubt very much if these things change!
I will use French Knots if I’m convinced they are what the project needs, but unlike Alex you won’t find me volunteering to stitch half an acre of the wretched things… But yes, working two-handed is definitely easier!
Oh you make me laugh! I’m guessing this long winded sheep blanket I’m attempting isn’t your thing either!
No, not really! 🙂
Lovely video. French knots are the devil in my opinion. If there are only a few in a project I always substitute with beads.
I actually quite like them but I know a lot of people are like you! What a lovely substitute that you have found! It’s great how we can find our own way around challenges isn’t it!
I like French knots but until I read this post and watched your video I didn’t know what a ‘true’ French knot was. I’ve always wrapped the thread around twice.
Watching your video I can see how much easier it is to work them using both hands, I’ve always done them one handed which explains why they were not consistent. I am definitely going to buy a seat frame now!
You have a nice voice and your video was very good, for me much better than a photo tutorial so thank you for that.
Oh thanks Ann for the encouragement! It’s quite strange videoing yourself!
So my question is, when you’re placing a single French knot on a piece – too far away from other stitches to secure the threads under the backs of those stitches – how do you knot the thread on the back of the work? Or do you?
Good question! It would in part depend on the fabric you are using. If it was a heavy based fabric like a linen twill, and the thread didn’t have to travel too far, I would secure the thread in an already stitched area by weaving under previous stitches, then do the knot, and then return to the same spot to secure it at the end. If it is too far to travel, or the fabric isn’t heavy, I would either pick up just a couple of threads of fabric and work a couple of stitches over them to secure, or use a waste knot, where the knot is placed quite a distance from the work, and then once finished, secure it behind some stitches already in place at the end.