Why Not Knot?

Why use the traditional hemming stitch when there is a secure, attractive, and versatile alternative—the knotting stitch?

Nancy Arthur Hoskins Dec 14, 2015 - 5 min read

Why Not Knot? Primary Image

The knotting stitch secures your weft and adds a pretty edge without risking harming your fabric. Photo by Joe Coca

When I am working with a yarn that has a lot of texture, I find it is easier to hem stitch only on the warp rather than pulling my needle and yarn through the fabric. That is one reason the knotting stitch is so useful. For example, I used the knotting stitch on my Ombré Silk Shawl that is featured in Little Looms Holiday 2020. The warp was a silk bouclé and I didn't want to snag it with my needle while doing regular hem stitching. Here are Nancy Arthur Hoskins's directions for doing the knotting stitch. Add this technique to your weaving arsenal, you'll be glad you did! –Susan

Why use the traditional hemming stitch when there is a secure, attractive, and versatile alternative—the knotting stitch? My first woven sample, my largest tapestries, my most delicate silk shawls, and my linen lace weaves have all been finished with an embroidery stitch, called a coral knot or twisted chain stitch, adapted for working on warp ends. It's also the stitch I used to finish my Lavender's Blue shawl on the cover of the September/October 2013 Handwoven. This stitch ties a knot on each warp end or set of warp ends below or above the woven web with the weft yarn or a substitute yarn.

  Knot Stitching
  Knot Stitching
  Knot Stitching 4


1. Begin and end your weaving with two plain weave picks. Leave a tail of the first weft pick 3X the warp width on the right side if right-handed, on the left side if left-handed for stitching the hem. Sewing thread or another yarn can be substituted for the weft yarn.

2. Weave 1–2” at the beginning before stitching the hem.

3. Tie a knot around the selvedge warp or set of selvedge warps with the weft tail or a substitute yarn. If using a substitute yarn, leave a 3” tail to stitch into the web later.

4. Thread the stitching element into a blunt tapestry needle.

5. Hold the needle in one hand and hold the stitching element parallel to the weft picks with the other hand.

6. Slip the needle under a single warp or set of warps—it will also be beneath the stitching weft—but the end of the needle must come over the looped portion of the stitching weft as shown in the diagram.

7. Keep some tension on the stitching element and tighten the knot by pulling the needle through the loop.

8. Repeat the knotting stitch for each single warp or set of warp ends across the web.

9. A knot is tied onto the selvedge warp or set of warps below and above the fell and then a knotting stitch is worked on the next warp to the left. Continue working a stitch on each warp.

10. Stitch the tails into the web after cutting the weaving off the loom.

—Nancy Arthur Hoskins


Stitching in the Tales


First published December 14, 2015. Revised October 9, 2020.