Updated: Jun 19, 2020
To knot or not to knot, that is the question.
I’m going to let you into a secret when it comes to my hand embroidery....... I never knot the end of the cotton.
This might come as a shocker to stitching artists but I simply don’t have enough time or patience to make a knot when I come to the end of the thread. I simply let it dangle out the back and do its own sweet thing, if it pokes through at any point I just thread it back through or snip it very close to the canvas.
There is also another reason that I like to think fully justifies this creative decision; I like the reverse of a stitching just as much as the front.
The messy conglomeration of tangled threads that happens with most hand embroidery brings another meaning to the artwork. It hints at there being more to the subject than meets the eye, it’s the side of us that other people might not see but lurks within us.
This realisation hit whilst I was looking at a stitching hero of mine, a classically trained painter turned stitch artist, Cayce Zavaglia.
Cayce displays both sides of her stitchings when she exhibits her work. She calls them ‘Versos’.
Here is an example of a ‘Verso’ of mine:
The blurred outlines of the figures and the tangled ends from the unknotted cotton perhaps gives more information than the front of the piece.
I hope this thought provides some support when it comes to thinking about embroidery for beginners. It is important that you don’t feel any pressure to conform to any particular style or standard. When it comes to your choice of embroidery stitch be it straight stitch as I use, or chain stitch, satin stitch, fishbone stitch, or cross stitch, it is important to remember that we all work in ways that are unique to us, so please produce work from the heart and go with the flow. It’s what you get out of the process that is important.
To knot or not to knot is your choice!
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