Each line in this diagram represents a fabric thread.
To start the French Knot use an away knot and a smooth, long, new Milliner's needle for the best results. It makes it very easy to slide through the wraps if the needle is new and smooth and the longer Milliner's needles make it easier to do this stitch. You can wash your older needle and get good results. I use Dawn dish detergent/soap and just roll the needles back and forth on my palm and then rinse and dry them. Then use emery.
To begin place the away knot so it will not interfere with any steps of the French Knot by placing this away knot out of the design area and several inches away from your first French Knot so that there will be enough length on the tail of thread to be able to rethread it later.
At the star (*) in the diagram of the French Knot pull the thread and needle completely through to the top of the fabric. The diagram does not show the entire length of the thread as it loops up above the needle from where it emerges from the fabric at the star and where it is through the needle's eye.
The needle will be wrapped with the thread before it reenters the fabric and throughout most of this procedure hold the thread taunt with your left forefinger and thumb about an inch away from the fabric and needle and use the lower one third of the shank of the needle for most of the work.
At 1 place the needle in front of the thread,
pull the thread with your left hand over the needle at 2,
at 3 push the tip of the needle forward as you pull the thread under the tip of the needle,
at 4 pull the thread over the needle once more (this is optional) and then back under the needle as you hold the thread taunt with your left hand and hold the wraps on the needle with your right forefinger.
Now I want to give you some tips, it will take a little practice, maybe a couple of attempts to grasp all this, but do try it.
Looking at the star in the diagram above where you first came up through the fabric with the threaded needle, hold the thread taunt with your left hand because you are going to reenter the fabric with the needle point,
with your right forefinger and thumb place the needle tip at the plus sign (+) which is a different spot than where you came up with the thread. You will have to twist the needle tip back to the plus sign (+) and push the tip of the needle into the fabric. Do not worry about the distortion in the fabric that this will cause as it is temporary and will relax once the needle is pushed into the fabric and you can release the thread.
To continue, with your left forefinger and thumb hold the thread taunt and push the needle, alongside the eye, into the fabric with your right forefinger and thumb.
While holding the thread taunt with your left hand reach under the fabric with your right hand and pull the needle through the wraps.
At this point you DO NOT want to pull the thread really tight. Leave a little loft and spring in the thread so the French Knots have some volume.
Now, break all the rules! You determine the number of wraps you make for a French Knot. If you are using a delicate silk thread or a single strand of cotton floss then you might want to use a single wrap. If you are filling a large area with French Knots and you are using perle cotton for the thread then you may decide to use two wraps. You decide, and you can determine this by doing the experiments on the edges of the embroidery fabric or a doodle cloth and then you decide what you think looks best. ©2001 Linda Fontenot