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Tips and Techniques to Bring Your Canvas To Life > The Perfect French Knot
The Perfect French Knot

The Perfect French Knot

The perfect French Knot is created through practice.  A doodle canvas is a must.  The secret is consistency in your stitching technique and an even tension.

If you change the position of the needle as you set up the stitch, the position of the dimple in the French Knot will change.

Choosing the proper weight yarn for the canvas mesh is crucial.  Also, consider whether the canvas is painted  the same color as the working yarn or a different color including white canvas.

  • On 18 mono canvas, with the canvas and yarn the same color, use #8 perle coton or 4 ply floss or silk.  On 13-14 mesh use #5 perle coton or all 6 ply floss or silk.
  • If the yarn is a different color that the canvas, increase one ply of floss or silk.
  • The size of the needle determines the size of the French Knot.

For other mesh sizes or different yarns, experiment on a doodle canvas (use the same mesh as your painted canvas) to determine the number of ply needed to adequately cover the canvas.



  1. A French Knot in needlepoint consists of one wrap around the needle.
  2. A French Knot in needlepoint must be stitched over an intersection or canvas thread.
  3. A French Knot should be appropriate for the design of the canvas.
  4. A French Knot is a perfect stitch when shading.



  1. Use 18-20 inches of floss as it comes out of the skein (no plying necessary unless you are blending and shading an area)
  2. When working on an 18, 17 or 16 mesh canvas use a #24 tapestry needle, 13 or 14 mesh use a #22 tapestry needle.
  3. When knotting over a single thread or line, work knots from top to bottom  or right to left.
  4. When stitching French Knots over a larger area work the stitch in the basket weave method...up the horizontal intersections and down the vertical canvas threads.
  5. Place a waste knot in the same direction you will be working over but not on a diagonal.
  6. Come up at the bottom left corner of the intersection you wish to cover.
  7. With your left hand, hold yarn horizontally three inches to the left.
  8. With the needle in your right hand, place needle vertically across the yarn.
  9. With the working yarn in your left hand, wrap the yarn counter-clockwise once around the needle.
  10. Without handling the knot, guide it to the intersection.  Insert the needle in the top right corner, covering the intersection as in a tent stitch.
  11. Pull the knot taut, continuing to hold the needle in your right hand, now release the yarn from your left hand.  Pull the needle through the canvas, allowing the yarn to loosen adequately to cover the intersection.
  12. Maintain tension on the working yarn before starting the next French Knot.  This keeps the French Knot in the proper position over the intersection.

Continue stitching in exactly this step-by-step manner and you will produce the PERFECT FRENCH KNOT.