Thursday, 8 January 2015

Beads vs French knots

Are you a beader or a French knot fan?

One of the the most hated stitches in cross stitch is the French knot.  More so than back stitch, it's one of those things you either tolerate or hate.  And boy do most people hate it.  Have a look on any forum, magazine advice section, Facebook page or twitter feed and the French knot debate will be out in force.  

I'm yet to come across anyone who jumps up and down in joy squealing "ooh I love French knots" but I'm sure they're out there.  Strange unnatural fetishes are everywhere after all.

Personally, I hate them.  They're fiddly, they don't sit neatly, they're never of a uniform size, they untie at the drop of a hat or pull through the fabric and you find hours of work undone in an instant.
Pretty much the only time I use French knots is
to dot the i's and j's in writing.
Too bad they are such a useful stitch.  They're perfect for dotting the 'i' or adding punctuation to sentences and quotes.  They make quick and easy eyes and buttons.  They add a 3D effect and additional element to your picture.  I admit, I add them quite frequently in my patterns, particularly ones with writing.  

Which is why it is so great that there is a useful, quick, easy, simple alternative to the French knot:

The humble seed bead.

I think it was a store holder at a craft fair in Townsville some 10 or so years ago who first suggested to me using seed beads instead of French knots.  
The first time I used seed beads instead of French knots.
Angel of Dreams by Dimensions
The effect was instantaneous and amazing.  No more fiddling around trying to wrap the thread around my needle.  No more having to judge the exact right amount of tension to create the knot without pulling it through the fabric.  No more having to worry about the size of the knots. Amazing.

Okay, so you do have the added challenge of not tipping over the seed bead container, or losing your beads down the side of the couch or in the carpet.  But we wouldn't want it to be too easy now, would we?
This painted cross stitch pattern has far too many French knots
for comfort.  But never fear - I have my seed beads ready to go
I do still occasionally use French knots, particularly if there is only one or two in the pattern, or I don't have the appropriate colour on hand and don't want to wait for the postman (no local supplier in my country town!), but for the main part all my French knots are replaced with seed beads.  I'm slowly building up a collection of colours - they're so pretty!
My bead collection
If you have never replaced your French knots with seed beads, I highly recommend you give it a go.  You might be presently surprised.  In my next blog post I am going to give a bit of a step by step on using seed beads in cross stitch. 
One of my earliest beading attempts.  Not too bad, although
the thread one on the left needs to be tightened!
Or maybe you are that rare creature, the French Knot Fan.  If so, more power to you.  I bow to your talent and perseverance.  You have more patience than I do!

Happy Stitching!


  1. I use beads, too. Adds sparkle and more consistent than knots.
    Great bead collection!
    Beautiful stitching!

  2. Thanks Deb! Yeah, I love the additional dimension beads can add to a pattern

  3. I love french knots! They were quite difficult and fiddly at first but I've learnt to love them XD