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Colonial knot icon
Colonial knot

  • Candlewicking knot
  • Figure of eight stitch
Colonial knot main image

The colonial knot creates a larger, rounder and more raised knot than the French knot

Colonial knots are part of the Candlewick embroidery tradition, developed in the USA during the early 18th century.  The tradition started by using cotton from candlewicks (hence the name) to embellish empty flour bags and then developed into using more conventional materials. Items such as bedspreads are embellished with traditional patterns, some of which use colonial knots as the only stitch on the item.

Colonial knot is generously sponsored by Katherine Seeburger


The size of the knot will depend on the thickness of the thread or the number of threads in the needle.

Colonial knot method stage 1 photograph

Bring the needle and thread to the surface. With both hands on the surface, hold the needle with one hand and the tension of the working thread in the other.

Colonial knot method stage 2 photograph

Bring the needle to the inside of the working thread and take it under the thread away from you

Colonial knot method stage 3 photograph

Use the working thread to wrap the pointed end of the needle

Colonial knot method stage 4 photograph

Take the needle back down through the fabric, at the place it surfaced or very close to that point

Colonial knot method stage 5 photograph

Draw the knot down the shaft of the needle so that it sits firmly on the fabric

Colonial knot method stage 6 photograph

Take the needle through the fabric and draw through the excess thread to the back of the fabric

Colonial knot method stage 7 photograph

to complete the knot

Colonial knot

Structure of stitch

Created by wrapping the thread in a figure of eight around the needle before taking the needle down and tightening the knot against the fabric

Embroidery Techniques


  • Sarah Whittle, The Needlecraft Stitch Directory (2012)
  • Jennifer Campbell, Ann-Marie Bakewell, Guide to Embroidery Stitches (2004) , p.30
  • Thomas McGowan, 'Bertha Cook, Blue Ridge National Heritage Fellow', JSTOR (1986). Available at: (Accessed: 25 August 2021)

Examples of Colonial knot

bed jacket, RSN Collection No. 134