Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Stitch Fun: Knotted Chain Stitch


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Time for a little Stitch Fun!

Today, we’re going to look at one of the many variations of chain stitch – the knotted chain stitch. Once you get the hang of it, it’s an easy stitch and a fun way to add texture and interest to a chain stitched line.

Knotted Chain Stitch Tutorial

I’ve been experimenting with different composite stitches a lot lately, thanks to this floral alphabet project that’s underway, and this particular composite – which includes a knot and a chain stitch – is fast becoming a favorite stitch to play with. It has potential!

Knotted Chain Stitch or Braid Stitch Variation

In the center of the photo above, the line of chain stitch is the knotted chain stitch. It looks pretty much like a nice, open chain stitch, straighter on the left side than the right, with a small knot at the top left of each chain.

The right side of the stitch rounds out a bit more than the left, giving the right side of the stitched line a somewhat scalloped look.

You can find this particular stitch illustrated in Art in Needlework by Lewis F. Day & Mary Buckle (available online through Project Gutenberg). In the book, the authors refer to this stitch as “a yet more fanciful variety of braid stitch” – but essentially, it is a simple knot and chain stitch combination. The stitch is located Art in Needlework in Chapter 4 on Chain Stitch. The illustration looks like this:

Knotted Chain Stitch or Braid Stitch Variation

This variation of the chain stitch is not to be confused with the knotted cable chain stitch (sometimes also called cable knotted chain stitch), which forms the knot on the stitch in a slightly different way, and which features a longer connecting stitch between the chains. It’s also not to be confused with the crested chain stitch, which involves a coral knot combined with a chain stitch.

Knotted Chain Stitch or Braid Stitch Variation

Begin by bringing your thread to the front of the fabric, just to the left of the line you want to cover. The stitch works down the line, from the left to the right side of the line. In the photo above, I’m not using a line on the fabric, but if you do have a line that you’re covering, you’ll work just to the left of it (the knot side) and then just to the right of it (the chain stitch side). Read on for further clarification!

To anchor your thread before you start, you can use a waste knot or anchor stitches on your line, as long as you’re sure the anchor stitches will be covered. I prefer using an “away” waste knot with this stitch, because the chains are so open that the anchor stitches might be visible. Those links will take you to photo tutorials for the different ways you can start your thread.

Knotted Chain Stitch or Braid Stitch Variation

The easiest way to get your thread to loop in the correct manner to form the knot is to use your index finger on your non-stitching hand to loop the thread. Lay the working thread over your finger, which is situated as shown above…

Knotted Chain Stitch or Braid Stitch Variation

…and then turn your finger over towards you, so that the thread loops around your finger as shown.

Knotted Chain Stitch or Braid Stitch Variation

This is the resulting loop configuration.

Knotted Chain Stitch or Braid Stitch Variation

Your needle will go down into the fabric inside that loop, and then you can pull the working thread a little, to tighten the loop around the needle while it’s still in the fabric.

Knotted Chain Stitch or Braid Stitch Variation

If you’re “scooping” the fabric (rather than stabbing it), bring the needle immediately back up in the fabric just to the right of the line you’re covering. I drew the line in so you can see what I’m talking about! You want to pick up enough fabric to cover whatever length you want your chain stitch to be.

Notice how the working thread is lying on the fabric? You want your needle to be inside the loop of your working thread, as shown. This is the same as situating the working thread under your needle from right to left – like this:

Knotted Chain Stitch or Braid Stitch Variation

This is the configuration you want in your thread before pulling the needle through. Once you pull your needle through, you will have a chain stitch on the fabric.

Knotted Chain Stitch or Braid Stitch Variation

And there it is! That’s the first completed stitch.

Knotted Chain Stitch or Braid Stitch Variation

To start your second stitch, make your loop as before, just to left of your line.

Knotted Chain Stitch or Braid Stitch Variation

Take your needle down inside the loop and tighten the loop around the needle by pulling gently on the working thread.

Knotted Chain Stitch or Braid Stitch Variation

If you prefer “stabbing” your fabric (i.e. taking the needle all the way to the back of the fabric before bringing out to the front again), then take your needle to the back and pull through slowly, until you have just a small loop of working thread on the front of the fabric, as shown, and then bring your needle up inside that loop for the chain stitch. Then, pull through the rest of the way to tighten the chain stitch around the working thread as you normally would.

Continue down your line in this manner, until you reach the end.

Knotted Chain Stitch or Braid Stitch Variation

To end the line of knotted chain stitch, take a small anchor stitch just over the last chain stitch, just as you would with a regular chain stitch.

Knotted Chain Stitch or Braid Stitch Variation

Here’s a little line of this knotted chain stitch, worked with an over-dyed perle cotton which I’ll be showing you a little later in the week, when we have a little chat about threads.

So, that’s the knotted chain stitch, or “a yet more fanciful variety of braid stitch.” I’m not really sure if it’s more fanciful than braid stitch, but it’s a variation, nonetheless!

For more Stitch Fun articles – which include tutorials on stitches and stitch combinations that are fun to work and great for adding variety to your needlework – feel free to visit the Stitch Fun Index!


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(10) Comments

  1. A new variation of chain to me – it looks rather nice. Thank you for showing us this. I particularly like the slightly shorter chains in the red sample which give a very different character to the blue version on the initial M. I can see that thread thickness, tension and stitch size are all going to affect the look of this stitch. I’ll have fun experimenting.

  2. Ok Mary. I am getting a bit ansty already. What’s it gonna be? Is it the monogram class, is an ebook, is it another online class? hmmmm, hmmmm, hmmm? I have been trying to wait patiently, Do I need more patience??

    1. Hi, Kathy – the monogram class will focus more on traditional monogram techniques. This floral alphabet is for an ebook. That’s the plan right now. I might incorporate some aspects of the floral monogram approach into an online class. The online class development is coming along a little slowly. I’ve had some hang ups in the last month, not least of which is a huge computer problem, so I haven’t really been able to keep up with the computer part of everything. Rrrrrgh. So I’m really behind schedule, and I’m going through a re-think session on some things. But right now, the plan for this particular alphabet is more along the lines of an e-book. Hope that helps allay your anxiety! – MC

    2. Thanks Mary! I always catch up with Needle n Thread! Mostly with a cup of coffee. Our computer crashed as well. The new one is almost complete. Time is precious!

  3. Dear Mary

    I really like the variation of the chain stitch on your blue monogram and I do like the knotted chain stitch it would look really nice on a border or similar pattern. Thanks for sharing this with us I do enjoy the stitch fun series and it gives me some really good ideas for embroidery projects. Thanks Mary.
    I hope your computer problem is sorted I had to buy a new computer recently as mine kept crashing so I can sympathise with your dilemma.

    Regards Anita Simmance

    1. Please Please set up an online monogram class can’t wait in anticipation

      Anita Simmance

    2. Hi, Anita – well, I had to capitulate and buy a new one, too! It will arrive on Thursday – or Wednesday, if I’m really lucky! Can’t wait!

  4. Thank you for the post, Mary! When I first saw the sampler in ‘Art in Needlework’ I got the impression that this would be a very pretty and decorative stitch, and your tutorial and pretty examples confirmed my suspicion.

  5. Do you know of a few embroidering books that would be good for a beginner ?
    Do you know of a good dictionary of stitches for a beginner ?
    Thank you

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