- French knots
- French dot
- Knotted stitch
- Twisted knot stitch
- Point Noué Stitch
A bold raised knotted dot used for decorative purposes giving texture to the surface of the material. They can be used singly or in closely packed groups or scattered.
French knots appear as one of the stitches on the Butler-Bowdon cope, a piece opus Anglicanum from the 14th century (although they were not a particularly common stitch in this tradition). They were also used on a notable piece of Swiss/south German ecclesiastical embroidery from the 16th century and by the following century were certainly in common usage in both Jacobean crewelwork and in raised work (frequently used to depict foliage or hair).
By the 19th century they were being used across different embroidery traditions and regions: in Britain they were used at the beginning of the century to embellish silk needlepaintings; to create geometric designs for Java canvas work (named for the origin of the fabric), and in the 1870s and 80s to cover large areas of the ground fabric of what were termed ‘etching embroideries’; in Eire they were used as a key element of Montmellick white work; and in Portugal as part of the Guimarães embroidery tradition.
Structure of stitch
Identifying French knot
The french knot is produced on the fabric surface by wrapping the needle once or twice and then returning the needle and thread to the back of the fabric extremely close to where it came up.
Letitia Higgin, RSN Handbook of Embroidery (1880) , p.24–6
S. F. A. Caulfield, Blanche C. Saward, The Dictionary of Needlework (1882) , p.183
Mrs Archibald Christie, Samplers and Stitches (1921) , p.51
Mary Thomas, Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches (1934) , p.104
Santina M. Levey, Discovering Embroidery of the 19th Century (1971) , p.25
Willem Vogelsang, 'Butler-Bowdon Cope', TRC Leiden (2017). Available at: https://trcleiden.nl/trc-needles/individual-textiles-and-textile-types/religious-vestments-and-other-textiles/butler-bowdon-cope (Accessed: 25 August 2021)
Anne E. Wardwell. (1980) 'The Holy Kinship: A Sixteen-Century Immaculist Embroidery', The Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art pp.285-295. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/25159697
Ada Wentworth Fitzwilliam, A. F. Morris Hands, Jacobean Embroidery: Its Forms and Fillings Including Late Tudor (1912) , p.30, p36, p38, p42, p46, 48
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
Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 'Java Canvas Work', TRC Leiden (2017). Available at: https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/regional-traditions/europe-and-north-america/embroideries/java-canvas-work (Accessed: 25 August 2021)
Jane Houston-Almqvist, Mountmellick Work (1985, 1990, 1996)
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)
Examples of French knot from the RSN Collection
Churchwork Sampler, RSN Collection No. 294
French knots have been used to render the wool of the lamb.