The Portuguese knotted stem stitch is a great stitch for outlining, especially when you want a little heavier line with some texture to it. The stitch is made up of the stem stitch with little knots along the line, making the line look a little scalloped on one side.
This stitch is especially suitable to Mountmellick Embroidery, and can be used equally well in Jacobean work or crewel embroidery.
I think the stitch looks best when worked with a twisted thread, like a perle cotton. the definition of the stitch is best retained with a more tightly twisted thread. Still, it looks fine worked with regular embroidery floss, too.
I’ve also got a photo tutorial of the same stitch, if you want to see it in “still life.” The photo tutorial shows more clearly what the stitch looks like when worked.
Left-Handed Stitch Instructions
For left-handed stitchers, the stitch is easier worked right to left. When working in this direction, you’ll need to keep the working thread above the needle, and when you wrap the stitch to make the “knot,” wrap from above going down. Otherwise, the thread will lose its twist and the stitch will lose its definition.
Here’s the video:
For more embroidery stitch instruction, feel free to check out my collection of hand embroidery stitch videos here on Needle ‘n Thread!