Tuesday, July 31, 2012

un nœud très vertueux

virtue is not left
to stand alone.
he who practices it
will have neighbors.

whenever someone watches me making french knots on a cloth, i am presented with either amazement or disdain. both responses leave me perplexed. i am told they are unstable, difficult to make, lack uniformity, and a host of other aspersions. but i believe that the humble french not is a very virtuous knot: un nœud très vertueux.

contrary to apparent popular opinion, the french knot in not unstable, is easy to make, and can be made quite uniformly. not to mention that, in my opinion, when you want to add a delicious texture to the surface of your cloth, there is no other embellishment that can compare to its bead-like appearance and soft, tactile sensation!

as in all things, you must practice a skill to acquire it, and you must continue to practice a skill in order to master it. fortunately, the french knot is actually quite easy to master. (remember, you can click on any of the photos to see an enlarged version of them and then use your back arrow on your browser to return to this page.)

to begin, make a knot at the end of your thread and bring the needle out at the chosen position.

hold the thread down where it emerges with the left thumb and encircle the thread twice with the needle, creating two wraps of thread around the needle working away from the place where the thread exited the cloth.

holding the thread firmly with your thumb, twist the needle back to the starting point and insert it right next to where the thread exited the cloth (do not go back through the exact place or you will simply pull the thread and knot back through the cloth) and pull the wraps snugly against where the needle is entering the cloth.

now, pull thread through cloth while still holding it firmly with your thumb until you are left with a small knot sitting gloriously on top of your cloth!

from here, you can continue making french knots for as long as your heart desires. just remember to secure the tail of the thread on the back side once you have made your last knot so it, too, will stay in place.

i hope this little tutorial helps those of you who might like to try making french knots. for inspiration, a quick google or flickr search will show you the endless possibilities is which they may be used!



  1. Ha great lesson again! Though I think each and everyone has his/her own little tricks. I LOVE the French knots Karen Ruane is making: a very precise person !

    1. thanks...and yes, i agree...everyone has their own little tricks. i was just responding to some requests for a tutorial on the way i do mine. :) agreed on karen ruane's work!

  2. love the french knot...yes...easy and stable.

  3. I remember where I learned my first French knots...in the home/mansion of an older woman who was such a dear. Her home was filled with antiques and even had a library...anyway, she taught me french knots and I have always loved the texture and look of them. The french knot brings so much dimension to a piece...love your demonstration and especially love your beaded bracelet! fantastic.

    1. what a wonderful memory, marie!! thanks for your admiration of my mala, as well. it is a vintage piece brought back by friends from nepal and one of my favorites.

  4. oooh yes, French knots are delightful, and have you tried bullion knots? Even more fun .... I loved you post on needles as well, I have some delights in a drawer that belonged to someone in my family's past; as you say, a lovely sense of connection

    1. <---- happy dance

      yes, i love, love, love bullion knots as well! had almost forgot about the little buggers until you mentioned them. thank you!!!