Wednesday, 6 January 2021

knot stitch stepwise

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I'm not sure whether I will be using this stitch, but it does not hurt to have options. Never say never! It is not difficult and I soon got into a rhythm where the knot stitch, first seen in 1924, could be accomplished in one smooth movement. So, though my pictorial has numerous steps and detailed instructions, it is best to simply pick up your shuttle and tat along. Choose a thick thread in light colour for your first attempts.

The original diagrams in Priscilla Book 3 (free download from are very clear. Snapdragon has shared the scans here -   More links in my previous post - 

Rose Motif from the same book, in Anchor pearl cotton size 8. Bridging elements (chains) use the knot stitch. I am so much happier with this one and the thread behaved itself! More at the end of this post.

At the end of the pictorial I have also compared the knot stitch chain with a split chain, which was a later invention.

KNOT  STITCH  Pictorial

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Shuttle and ball, continuous thread. Shuttle with a hook (or pick) is preferable for fluid movement. 

I start with a backside ring and reverse work, so that the shuttle is in position, to the right of ball thread. 
Always keep the ball thread taut; all movements are with the shuttle and there is no transference.  
1.  Wrap the ball thread over your left hand as when working a chain. In this method, ball thread becomes the core thread over which we make the knot stitches.
Move shuttle to the left Over the ball thread. Let's call this loop a , 
2. ...and bring the shuttle back towards the right to create a second loop on the other side of ball thread.
Important : The black arrow tells you to keep both threads in your pinch (between left thumb and finger) through to figures 6 or 7.
3. This becomes loop b. Notice that the shuttle thread is still over the ball thread as well as above a
4. Bring shuttle over a, but under the ball thread, and hook b 
5. With a slight rotation of the shuttle, it is easy to pull b through. Let's call this loop c. Keep shuttle tip under c. Note that loop c is under the ball thread and is pulled over a.
6. Pull all of b into c. Keep pulling c outwards, while keeping your pinch where the black arrow is. Notice how the shuttle has moved and rotated smoothly.
7. As c is being pulled out, you can simultaneously tug on the thread indicated by the crochet hook. This will shorten a. When c is large enough, pass shuttle through the loop. Then loosen your pinch on the left.
8. The shuttle has fully passed through c, and keep tugging to close a
I actually use my right hand (with shuttle still in hand) to pinch the indicated thread to ensure all slack from a is removed ... 
9. Notice that a has disappeared and only c is left. Now keep pulling shuttle thread to close c.
Important : Close all of a before closing c.
10. All loops are closed and 1 knot stitch is complete.
11. 7 knot stitches made. We have successfully climbed out of the central ring with a chain.
12. After the 7ks chain, I continued with a normal 4-4-4 chain using double stitches.
Then leaving bare thread of same length as the previous ks chain, make a lock join on ring picot.
13. With ball thread in left hand as if making a chain, cover the bare thread with knot stitches.
14. Another ks chain is complete, followed by a regular chain.

Comparing knot stitch (ks) and split chain (SCh) -
I wanted to compare these ks chains with a split chain (the 3rd segment on the right). At a glance, there is not much difference. 
SCh looks exactly like a normal chain, with exactly the same thickness and curvature. The simulated double stitches are made using Dora Young's knotless method.
The ks chain is slightly bulkier or denser/compact and just that tiny bit straighter. The ks does not have 2 distinct half stitches - it is more like one loop is nestled within (see fig 10 above - notice where the shuttle thread is emerging from). This creates a lovely texture along the edge which might be slightly more evident in lighter shades. 
Knot Stitch can do everything a Split Chain can - climbing out for continuous tatting; bridging between elements in any direction.  
It would be interesting to use ks as a design element, with perhaps a bit more slack on to look like picots. What about curlicues (single shuttle split chains), floating chains, and filet tatting? Playing with colours? See more links for variations here -

Rose Motif from Priscilla Book 3. As in my first attempt here, I made graduated picots along the outer chains, but kept to the original pattern in all other respects. I started with a backside (RODS) central ring, reversed work and continued to next round. Both rounds are worked from the front in clockwise direction. The ks chains have thrown/floating rings; so remember to reverse work before and after each ring.
In Anchor pearl cotton size 8, the motif measures 3.5cms after 1st round and 5.5cms final. Worked with one shuttle and ball, ctm.

The one below is from Anita Barry. I roped her in and she readily agreed to refresh her memory. Her first one was years back. 

I hadn't noticed till she pointed out that all her ks chains do not face the same way. There is a tendency for the ks chains to twist a bit especially if the joining picot is long. But her picots were very small, as directed in the original instructions and seen in the 2 WIP pics. Hmmm. Any ideas?

Many thanks to all tatters who have shared across time 
so that we continue to have options and ideas!


  1. coś nowego, coś fajnego:)dziękuje i pozdrawiam:)

    1. New to us, but almost 100 years old, Renata 😄💖

  2. I think it could be very useful as a design tool. I find a split chain tricky to keep neat, I wonder if I'd do any better with the knot stitch. Good to have options, as you say.

    1. I hope you snatch a few moments to try it out, Jane 😉💖

  3. Great stepwise tutorial! Thank you!

    1. I'd really like to try out your spiraling colour idea, Ninetta 😁💖

  4. Thank you for another great tutorial! The knot stitch has an interesting texture. I wonder how it would work for hangers for my ice drops and button ornaments? I'll have to experiment!

    1. It would be so interesting to introduce this texture into your ornaments, Diane 🤩💖

  5. I have uploaded Anita's version of the motif - she had promptly picked up her shuttle when I invited her to join me 😍💖

  6. Excellent tutorial Muskaan! This motif is a project that begs to be tatted a second time. It’s a marvel. Good to store in your memory banks so you can take the technique out and use it now and again.

    1. Thanks, Anita 😍 I did certainly enjoy tatting it a second time and understanding the movements and intricacies a bit more

  7. Split chains have been a weakness. When a rate pattern has them, my palms get moist, I sweat and fret. I You-Tubed split chain videos then preceded. During our calm stay-at-home Christmas I decided to overcome my split-chain avoidance. I have been tatting split chain patterns and will do so until I’m comfortable. I will overcome!😁 The journey has been good. I viewed several styles of split chaining and chose one I was comfortable following.

    1. Isn't it a wonderful feeling when we can finally conquer our fear of something, Anita!!! Once I could do the CWJ, tatting around a cabone ring, and split chains became so much easy - they are all fundamentally the same - the Dora Young Knotless method stitch. As long as I get the length of bare thread right, the rest is fine. 💖🌟

  8. Another interesting technique!! :)
    Looks great!! :)

  9. Beautiful tatting by Anita. About the slight twist, I followed a tip from Priscilla's rose motif, I left a little picot before starting next chain, imho it helps.

    1. Thanks, Ninetta 💖🙏 I know for a fact that she did leave that tiny picot. I'm wondering whether it is the fact that this chain has a slight tendency to twist/twirl if one is not careful while especially when joining? My limited experience.