Here’s a video tutorial for the French Knot. This knot is used often in hand-embroidery, but a lot of people avoid it, because it intimidates them. Once you work one correctly, you’ll find that it’s really easy!!!
There are different methods to making French knots. Some people wrap their thread around the needle three times, some only two. I generally use two wraps, but if I want a larger knot, I’ll go with three, depending on the thread I’m using. Going with more than three wraps around the needle doesn’t always work, though – the wraps can become unruly!
You can also achieve larger knots by changing the weight of the thread you are using. Instead of, say, two strands of DMC, you can use three or four.
Here are a couple useful tricks to working good French knots easily:
1. Use a milliner (aka straw) needle. The shaft of this needle is the same circumference as the eye, so it passes very easily through the knot. However, if you don’t have a milliner needle, regular embroidery needles do work. They just might be a bit cantankerous at times. Don’t tension up your thread so tightly that the eye doesn’t fit through the knot!
2. Keep tension on your working thread while you’re pulling your needle through so that your coils stay in their proper place on your needle.
In the video, I’m using a #3 milliner needle and #5 pearl cotton. The pearl cotton is a heavier thread that is easier to see in the video production.
I’m also wrapping the thread forward and around the needle (with the needle placed in front of the working thread at the beginning of the stitch). If you watch the video, you’ll see what I mean. This is not the only way to do the French knot. You can bring the needle up behind the working thread, and wrap the thread around the needle in the other direction (away from you). I’ve seen it done and diagrammed both ways. Erica Wilson’s book, for example, illustrates it the way I’ve done it in the video, except with only one wrap (well, it works out to one and a half wraps, the way she illustrates it). So either way is fine. The direction of the wrap actually does make a difference, if you’re working a stitch with lots of wraps on it, like the bullion knot, but the French knot is so small, that the difference in the direction of the wrap when taking into consideration the twist of the thread is not really noticeable.
Here’s the video:
If you’d like to see how French knots can be used for lettering, feel free to check out this tutorial on embroidered lettering, where I used French knots for one of the letters.
For more video tutorials, please visit the my list of How-To Videos here on Needle ‘n Thread.