Victorian Embroidery Stitches: Three Kinds of Knots

Inside Weldon’s Practical Needlework Volume 6, is a treasure trove of Victorian embroidery stitches. Practical Linen Embroidery, First Series, contains illustrations for numerous elegant stitches to adorn and embellish the Victorian home. Personally, I am a big fan of knots and included within are three ways for working knots.

This illustration from Volume 6 of <em>Weldon’s Practical Needlework</em> shows three ways to work knots. Left to right: French knots, dots, and knot stitch.

This illustration from Volume 6 of Weldon’s Practical Needlework shows three ways to work knots. Left to right: French knots, dots, and knot stitch.

Here are the directions as they appeared in 1891 with neither corrections nor alterations:

No. 28.—THREE WAYS OF WORKING KNOTS

The knots here illustrated are so useful that no worker should fail to become expert in making them. The group to the left hand shows the best known method of working French knots; those in the middle are sometimes known as dots instead of knots; the group on the right representing knot stitch. This knot stitch may be used either as an outline or as a filling, being easy to work, while a variation can be made by putting the knots near together or far apart, or by arranging them in groups of three or five with a space between each group. It is worked from the right to the left along a line marked on the material. Bring the needle and thread up at the end of the line, and hold the thread down on the line towards the left with the thumb of the left hand. Keep it down, put the needle into the linen just above the thread and bring it out quite straight but exactly below it. Draw up the thread, but do not set it free from below the left thumb until quite the last moment. Then make another stitch exactly on the top of this one, or if the knot is required very much raised, work a third and even fourth. Hold down the thread again along the line and make another knot just where it is required. The dots in the middle of the illustration are made simply by working a back stitch, then another exactly on the top of the first one, a second, and even a third or fourth. These knots may be sprinkled over a design just wherever it requires filling, and it is by no means necessary that they should rest all at the same slope upon the linen. This stitch is often used on delicate materials, such as cambric and pocket-handkerchief linen. The French knots are worked thus: Bring the thread up and hold it down beneath the thumb of the left hand. Twist it twice, three, or four times round the needle between the thumb and the linen, then put the needle back to the wrong side about two threads behind the place where it was brought up. Hold down the thread as long as possible, in order that the knot may be tight and compact.

Victorian Embroidery Stitches

PieceWork’s editorial assistant Jenna Fear tried her hand at working the three Victorian era knots. Left to right: French knots, dots, and knot stitch.

Embroidery enthusiast and PieceWork editorial assistant Jenna Fear tried her hand at making the three types of knots. She had made French knots, but the other two were new to her. The dots were simple enough to execute, but the knot stitch proved to be tricky.

Thread a needle and try your hand at making these Victorian embroidery stitches.

We’d love to see your handwork! Send your photos to piecework@interweave.com. Need a more challenging knot fix? Get PieceWork’s Miniature Knotted Garden Rug Kit.

Happy stitching!
Elizabeth


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