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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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…
…and then turn your finger over towards you, so that the thread loops around your finger as shown.
This is the resulting loop configuration.
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.
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:
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.
And there it is! That’s the first completed stitch.
To start your second stitch, make your loop as before, just to left of your line.
Take your needle down inside the loop and tighten the loop around the needle by pulling gently on the working thread.
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.
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.
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!