Learn hand embroidery. Watch a step-by-step demonstration of the Palestrina knot stitch as seen in the June 2014 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting.

Looking for more embroidery stitches? See more here.


We're back with more stitches to savor thanks to designer Sue Spargo. Hand-embroidery stitches are enjoying a resurgence . Here's another one: a Palestrina knot. For this example, Sue has used variegated thread on her sample. And you can either stitch around the outside of an applique to make a decorative edge or you can go down the center; maybe you want to make a center vein for a leaf or something like that. So, it's a great stitch. The thing to keep in mind with Palestrina knots is that it's a most attractive stitch when you keep the stitches evenly spaced and fairly close together. For this, you might use pearl cotton. We have a size 8 here that we're going to use for our stitching sample. You could also use a 5 or a 3--remember that the weight of the thread for pearl cotton is the smaller the number, the thicker the thread. You also want to use a chenille needle that has a larger eye so that it's easier to thread with this pearl cotton. So, let me show you how this stitch goes together. For my first Palestrina knot, I'm going to go up along the edge of my applique. Now I could go around the outside of the circle, but I'm going to make a line across the center. So, I'll put my needle point back in about a quarter inch away from where I brought it up and I'm just going to take a small bite out of the applique and pull that stitch through. So, I just have a straight stitch. I'll keep my thread out of the way. And then for my next stitch I'm going to go underneath that first straight stitch that I made. And here you want to make sure that you're not catching that applique--you're just going underneath that thread and pulling that first stitch taut. Now, you don't want to pull it too tight--you just want it snug. For my next stitch, I'm going to put the tip of my needle under the small stitch that is to the left of that previous wrap. And again, I don't want to go through the applique or through the foundation--I just want to go underneath that stitch. But I want to keep my thread wrapped underneath the needle, so I'm going to pull it out of the way here. And then I'm going to pull it through and you'll see a little circle or a loop emerge and that makes the first knot. Then, we're back to the beginning of the stitch. I'm going to move over a quarter of an inch, I'm going to take that little bite and I'm just making the next straight stitch. So then we repeat and go underneath that stitch, pull it snug, keep my thread out of the way, and under the needle through that small stitch to the left of that first wrap. You'll see that circle start to form and another knot. And then I'm ready to go again to make that small stitch a quarter inch to the left. and lay down another straight stitch for my next knot. Now, if you kept these closer together, it would be a more attractive stitch, but it's just a little difficult to show you the detail of this stitch because it is pretty intricate. Especially when you use a little bit thicker weight of pearl cotton, you can really get some nice texture on your stitching. Give the Palestrina knot a try. It's another stitch you'll want to savor.