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Marie Antoinette knotting

About Knotting

Knotting is an old craft popular in the 17th and 18th Centuries that is believed to be the grandmother of modern tatting.

ladies of leisure used to work knotted threads with their shuttles to create a "pleasant kind of braid"* that was then couched onto embroidery pieces, and resembles a row of closely embroidered french knots.

It was something to do at small gatherings, on long coach rides or just when the light was too poor for any delicate embroidery work

At the time Knotting shuttles were very ornate, and quite large by today's tatting shuttle standards at between 4-6" long. Knotting was supposed to be very attractive and show off a delicate wrist. The shuttles were very ornate and considered a fashion accessory much like a folding fan! Women would also wear a pretty little drawstring bag on their wrist to hold their knotted threads, and keep everything together when not knotting.

It seems after the early 19th century that knotting kind of died out, but with a little sleuthing I hope to help bring it back to life!

Portrait of a young marie Antoinette knotting

Guide to Knotting

Here are the steps to tying different knots you can use to create some wonderful effects! The first 2 knots, the single and double sided knots can be seen in the 18th century embroidery manual L'Art du Brodeur by Charles Germain de Saint-Aubin (who was the designer and embroiderer to King Louis XV). The other 2 are based on speculation on Mary Delany's Sugar Plum knots. At this point I have not seen these knots in person, but you can see more on these at Ring of Tatters, and tatting Myths Dispelled.


To knot you will need...

  1. knotting shuttle (4-6" long)
  2. Thread (any thread will work, but I find crochet thread works best)
  3. Knotting Bag (little draw sting bag to keep the knotting in as it gets longer and for storing the Shuttle shuttle when not in use)

1) Single Knot: This is just a simple over hand knot repeated down the thread at regular intervals.

2) Double Sided Knot: For this knot make 2 overhand knots spaced about 1-2mm apart, then tie them together with a 2nd over hand knot.
3) Chenille Knot: For this knot make 4 overhand knots close together, then tie into one knot with an overhand knot.
4) Sugar Plum Knot: for this simply make an overhand knot, and go over a 2nd time with another overhand knot

Uses for knotting

couched knottingknotting

Knotted threads were couched down to create a wonderful effect on embroidered pieces, and also to create fringes and tassels.

Knotting Shuttles

Knotting shuttles are very similar to modern day tatting shuttles, but much larger in size.

Antique knotting shuttles can be rather expensive, ranging from $200-$800, but you can find some nice new ones online! WM Booth Draper have some lovely bone shuttles which are so wonderful to see and hold in person.

As well as my bone shuttle I also hand made a large decorative shuttle out of resin.

My knotting Shuttles

knotting shuttle

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