The Ghiordes Knot Stitch

I was digging around looking for the name of and  basic working instruction for a loopy stitch I used in the ’80’s but never since.   I’ve seen it or something like it so effectively used in Debbie Lydon’s works, and some other artists’ works.  Despite fiddling with a needle and thread I’d forgotten how I did it, and looked around.  First, the meagre offerings on my bookcase; I have far more comprehensive books in my collection in Australia,  and now there is so much online, but I take these along to one of the workshops I teach.  They’re well travelled and had a lot of use since I bought them in the late 70’s.  But the stitch wasn’t there.  However, in the front of each one I found this wonderful introductory quote:  “Free Style Embroidery – The most popular type of embroidery is Free Style Embroidery. i.e., embroideries which are worked over a traced of hot-iron transfer design of from a stamped linen.”   Goodness – the last traced linen embroidered doily I did was at age 12-13 in the late ’50’s, hand crocheted edge and all.  I still have it and will phoograph and show it one day.

stitch books

After amuch online searching I found that what I was looking for is the Ghiordes Knot – check out these images for a feast of potential including easy to follow step by step instruction.  Images include a very few from free spirits, but mostly carefully controlled execution… as in this next link, containing perhaps the clearest basic step-by-step instruction in an article on the American  Needlepoint Guild’s Stitch of The Month back in August 2006.  Naturally, for a guild,  it’s very precise and correct, and from the point of doing it on canvas and eventually cutting the loops once they’re all in place…. the equivalent to the ‘free style embroidery’ on linen !

I did masses of uncut loops, aka ghiordes knots apparently, c. 1986 in a piece for an exhibition of my creative embroidery.  Of course, I don’t have an image within reach,  and indeed I’m wondering if I do have an image anywhere – well, surely ….  and that’s one more thing I’ll have to check next time I’m in my Aus sewing room, while photographing the last traced design doily I did.

One Response to “The Ghiordes Knot Stitch”

  1. Thea says:

    Hi Alison,
    regarding the Ghiordes Knot…it is also possible to create a thread ‘sculpture’ from tufts of this stitch done very tightly together with wool thread – once the area is covered just snip it with a very sharp scissors to the shape you want. I once did a little bear in a tree embroidery for my daughter’s room. the bear was almost 3 dimensional when done this way. That was about 40 yr ago.. no pics survive – but the process was very satisfying. Thanks for reminding me… as I’m doing wool embroidery again after a long hiatus and had forgotten that stitch!

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