- bullion stitch
- caterpillar stitch
- coil stitch
- knot stitch
- post stitch
- Porto Rico rose
- roll stitch
- worm stitch
- grub stitch
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.
With the needle and thread on the surface, decide on the length of the knot and take the needle down at this point
Leaving a large loop on the surface, bring the needle back up through the first hole
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
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.
Pull the working thread in the direction the knot was worked to ease the loop smaller and pull the bullion knot into place.
Structure of stitch
Identifying Bullion knot
A single stitch identifiable by thread coiled around its entire length.
Mary Thomas, Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches (1934) , p.16-17
Jacqui McDonald, RSN Essential Stitch Guides: Crewelwork (2010) , p.76-77
Letitia Higgin, RSN Handbook of Embroidery (1880) , p.26
S. F. A. Caulfield, Blanche C. Saward, The Dictionary of Needlework (1882) , p.178
Mrs Archibald Christie, Samplers and Stitches (1921) , p.52–3
'English embroideries belonging to Sir John Carew Pole, Bart', The Volume of the Walpole Society pp.43-65. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/41830348
Willem Vogelsang, 'Italian cutwork', (2017). Available at: https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/regional-traditions/europe-and-north-america/embroideries/italian-cutwork (Accessed: 12 August 2021)
Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 'Guimarães Embroidery', (2016). Available at: https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/regional-traditions/europe-and-north-america/embroideries/guimar-es-embroidery (Accessed: 12 August 2021)
Willem Vogelsang, 'A Portuguese sample book', (2021). Available at: https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/textile/texts-films-customs-and-events/designs-and-design-books/a-portuguese-sample-book (Accessed: 12 August 2021)
Lisa M. Klein. (2001) 'Early modern English embroideries: contexts and techniques', Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts pp.38-41. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/23182820
(2007) 'Review: Pioneer Memorial Museum Samplers by Loree Ann Romriell; The Salt Lake City 14th Ward Album Quilt, 1857: Stories of the Relief Society Women and Their Quilt by Carol Holindrake Nielson', Journal of Mormon History pp.231-236. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/23289911
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.