Have you tried coral knot stitch yet? Don't be put off by the name. Knot stitches are easier than you may think. Once you get the rhythm of coral knot stitch you will look for places to use it everywhere!
You read my page on how to stitch a French knot and found my way easier than your past experiences, didn't you?
Unlike French knots that are worked individually, you stitch coral knot in rows. You can stitch a single row or mass them together to fill in the shape of a pattern.
The knots themselves create texture in your piece and they are a great way to add volume and dimension. They create a contrast to smoother stitches within your design.
As a quick example, you can see how closely placed coral knot rows formed a bumpy case, and also a stalk, for this little acorn. I stitched the nut itself with chain stitch.
I like to use a single, non-stranded thread for this stitch, such as a pearl cotton number 8 or 12. I am using a number 8 in the photos below so that you can see it more easily.
I have photographed the fabric in an embroidery hoop, but you may find it easier to work without one (known as working in the hand) so that you can scoop up the fabric on the needle for each stitch. But be careful not to pull your stitches too tightly or you could pucker the fabric because of the tension.
I advise you to practice on a sampler (or scrap piece of material) until you have worked out how to use your thumb to hold the working thread in place at the beginning of each stitch.
Work from right to left. This may feel a little odd at first. When practicing, tie a knot at the end of your thread and bring the needle through from the back at the beginning of your line.
Insert the needle down into the fabric just above your marked line and bring it back up almost immediately below, but don't pull it through just yet!
The working thread needs to come across the needle and then tuck underneath it, as shown in the first photo.
As you pull the needle through, keep a slight tension on the thread until the knot settles in place.
Then take another stitch a little further along the line. The distance you leave between each knot is up to you. I worked the first row in the photos, leaving a gap in between the stitches.
I worked the knots more closely in the second row, giving a denser appearance.
Try working Coral Knot stitch in closely spaced rows as a filling stitch.
You then have the options of positioning each knot directly above the one in the previous row, alternating them, or just placing them randomly. Each will give a different effect, so choose which appeals to you and works best with the item being embroidered. In the photo below I alternated the knots, while in the acorn cup at the top of the page I stacked them one above the other.
Try using a hand-dyed thread when filling an area with this stitch to give a more random, natural effect for organic motifs.
You could also introduce a shaded effect by using a different toned thread for each row.
Talking of rows, who says they must be straight? You could try working in a spiral either from the center out of vice versa as the turquoise figure of eight in the photograph below.
The photograph also shows my experiments with the thickness of thread used for this knot stitch. I played with Bravo! a needlepoint fibre from Rainbow Gallery for these.
First, I tried using all four strands for the central chunky oval shaped block of stitches. Next I combined just two strands in the needle for the curved line surrounding the chunky block. To finish, I threaded just a single strand and outlined part of the previous curve. The effects produced are quite different. One strand is a rough equivalent of number 12 Pearl cotton.
You can also vary the amount of fabric picked up on the needle to give a tiny "bead" or a wider knot. You might like to try slanting the needle instead of keeping it straight up and down to give more of a diagonal knot stitch.
This stitch is ideal if you want a slightly raised line stitch for curved stems or outlines. And how about circular rows in the center of a flower?
Why not try it when stitching a sheep, as it can represent their woolly fleeces extremely well if you place each stitch randomly within the rows, not lined up carefully.
Talking of animals, it makes lovely tails for creatures such as rabbits or squirrels.
If you have other ideas of ways to use this stitch why not share them in the comments below?