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Bullion knot icon
Bullion knot

  • bullion stitch
  • caterpillar stitch
  • coil stitch
  • knot stitch
  • post stitch
  • Porto Rico rose
  • roll stitch
  • worm stitch
  • grub stitch
Bullion knot main image

​A long wrapped knot used singly to embellish designs or in groups to produce a textural filling stitch.

The earliest evidence we have for bullion knots is from the 16th century, where they were used in both English embroidery and Italian cutwork.  Guimarães embroidery from Portugal also used bullion knots as one of its signature stitches; the technique dates from the 10th century, but it is unknown at what point bullion knots started to be used.  By the 17th century bullion knots were becoming more widely used: a Portuguese stitched sample book held by the Metropolitan Museum in New York includes bullion knots, as do extant pieces of English stumpwork.  Bullion knots are listed as one of the stitches used in ‘sampler schools’ in the United States until the mid 19th century.

Bullion knot is generously sponsored by Dorothy Jones

Method

1

With the needle and thread on the surface, decide on the length of the knot and take the needle down at this point

2

Leaving a large loop on the surface, bring the needle back up through the first hole

3

Wrap the loop of thread around the needle a number of times

4

Condense the spiral down the shaft of the needle and lay it down to check the knot reaches the end hole. Wrap or unwrap the spiral of thread to adjust the length to fit

5

Pinch the spiral to hold it firm around the needle, whilst you pull the excess thread to the back of the fabric, then gently pull the needle through the spiral.

6

Pull the working thread in the direction the knot was worked to ease the loop smaller and pull the bullion knot into place.

7

Take the needle down the second hole

8

Bullion knot stitch

Bullion knot

Structure of stitch

Identifying Bullion knot

A single stitch identifiable by thread coiled around its entire length.

References

Examples of Bullion knot from the RSN Collection

Folding Crewelwork Screen, RSN Collection No. 1287

Purificator (2), RSN Collection No. 2079

The ears of corn have been worked in bullion knot in a silk floss that is heavier than that used for the other elements in the work to give them weight and texture.