Monday, September 1, 2008

French Knots (Not)

I finished Our Souls Entwine in the nick of time; my husband's birthday is Wednesday. The only thing I tried to change was instead of making cross stitches for the birds' eyes, I wanted to make French knots. Unfortunately my attempts to perform this feat led to abject failure. I looked online for instructions and even though I found plenty of references, I couldn't figure out how to hold the thread properly. The pictures usually only showed one hand holding the thread but not both hands, and I was all fumble fingers. I also wasn't sure how many strands of floss to use - the instructions kept telling me to "wrap my floss around the needle" but not how much of it would make the knot correctly. If anyone can point me to "French Knots for Dummies" or some such, I would be forever grateful.

Meanwhile I finagled with cross stitches so the eyes look a little more substantial than Xs. Just Xs made it look kind of like the birds were supposed to be dead! Not a very romantic thought for a birthday present to one's DH.
Our Souls Entwine
R & R Reproductions (Parched Bone)
Weeks Dye Works and DMC

The frame looks perfect, doesn't it? Well, don't look too close. It's just a regular picture frame, so the excess fabric is too thick to lace at the back of the stitching. I took the picture by hiding the fabric behind the frame. That's the way DH will get it, with my promise to have it framed properly one of these days!

So now I am project-less, not counting UFOs Gingerbread Cottage and Schoolgirl Lessons, neither of which are calling to me at the moment. I've been looking for a chart that I can use to make a floss tag for the MFC, and I really want to start something with which I can start to master color changes. I love LHN and the like, but I want to conquer my fear of something more complicated. I found a chart in a British cross-stitching magazine that I might try - a country house with a garden in front. But for this I'll need a trip to the LNS for the linen. You all seem to have endless stashes of beautiful linen - do you order it online? I have been getting it project by project but it would be wonderful to have a small store of it. So much linen, so little money... Off to look for a floss tag chart - see you soon!


Arthemise said...

I usually change the eyes when they're just a cross stitch too. You're right; they do look dead when it's just X's! Fabulous piece.

Tanya said...

So pretty!!!


Linen Stitcher said...

First of all, your finish on "Our Souls Entwinted" is lovely. I had not seen this pattern before, but what a sweet sentiment and wonderful gift. Nicely done!

And second of all, this link is to an online tutorial for making French knots:

I thought the info was presented very clearly here. This is the same method I have used for some time with good success. Be sure to keep your tension on your thread without pulling too tightly and put the needle in a slightly different place (one thread over on linen) to keep from pulling the knot through to the back of your fabric.

Good luck!

Carol R said...

Beautiful finish on Our Souls Entwined - well done.
I was going to point you in the same direction as Linen Stitcher but she got there before me!
You could always use petit beads or use a Palestrina stitch

Michele said...

very pretty finish! the frame is perfect :)

I love french knots but didn't know how to tell you how to make them .. but wow, the link that Linen Stitcher provided is awesome! I bet you'll do great french knots now :)

Sally said...

Our Souls Entwine is gorgeous Michele. You have stitched it so beautifully and the frame is just perfect.

Oooh French Knots! Hate them! Can't do them properly for the life of me!

Ruth Rachel Vendsel said...

I think you did a lovely job! I'm sure your DH loved it.

French knots are tricky, but I am sure you will get the hang of them with practice.

I know exactly how you feel about linen stash - I was totally there when I started stitching seriously a few years ago. It is helpful to have a little stash pile to choose from ... I belong to a color of the month club at Sassy's Fabbys. She has a great selection and reasonable prices! I onlyl spend $10/month. Silkweaver also has a fabric of the month club. I used to belong there but prefer Sassy's now.

lena-lou said...

I love your little picture so much :-)) the frame too !!

Sonda in OR said...

Looks beautiful! I often will use a bead for the eyes if I don't want to knot them.

Sharon said...

Gorgeous! Congrats!

Kathy said...

Very nice finish. I like Sonda will use beads in place of French knots. That gives the design texture similar to what the French knots would be.

Those of us that have stash have acquired it with years of practice and lots of times we still need to buy fabric for many of the projects that we do. Just keep doing what you are doing. There is no right or wrong way.

Rowyn said...

Our Souls Entwined is beautiful.

It took me a while before I got the hang of French Knots.

I always make sure the thread is firmly secured at the back. I find having the thread quite taut at all times really helps.

Then holding the thread out to one side I bring the needle back around close to the fabric and wrap the thread around the needle two or three times, and then I push the needle back down close to where I brought it up (never through the same hole or it will disappear out the other side). Usually I get a a fairly round knot.

French Knots definitely take practice, so don't give up you'll get it in the end.

Teri said...

I really like your finish, and the frame is perfect. Great job!

Anonymous said...

I hate the thought that being French I should be able to make beautiful French knots. Because I don't. For eyes, I will do smyrna crosses, something thicker than just an "x", but French knots - not !