I think Knotted Cretan stitch is one of my favourite stitches as you can easily work on gradual curves well to create meandering lines in organic designs. Ordinary Cretan stitch is flat, this version is textured. The knots formed on the spine create texture and change the feel and look of the stitch completely.
Worked in a thicker thread you can really do things with it. The sample on the right is created with a dark blue cotton perle # 5 and a cotton knitting yarn which I could thread in a needle!
Knotted Cretan stitch can also be used as a filling worked row upon row as the zigzag pattern it creates is attractive. You can fill the spaces created with beads if you like a bit of bling with your hand embroidery.
Another way to use this stitch is to couch heavy thread, cord or ribbon to the foundation fabric. In other words you can use it in freeform and adventurous manner to great effect as this is a very versatile stitch!
How to work Knotted Cretan Stitch
You need to know how to work Cretan stitch before learning the Knotted Cretan.
If you want to keep this stitch on a straight seam work along two parallel guide lines marked with a water dissolvable pen.
Work from top to bottom between 2 imaginary lines. Bring the needle through the fabric on the centre point at the start of the line. Move down ward and slightly and insert your needle on the outside edge to make a small stitch by pointing the needle to the centre.
Keeping the thread under the needle pull it through your fabric.This will form the first bar of the Cretan stitch
Slide your needle from top to bottom next to the bar stitch you just made and wrap your thread under the needle as illustrated.
Keeping the thread under the needle pull the needle through so that a knot forms next to the bar.
Move to the other side of the line and insert your needle on the outside edge to make a small stitch by pointing the needle to the centre.
Keeping the thread under the needle pull it through your fabric.
Slide your needle from top to bottom next to the bar stitch you just made and wrap your thread under the needle.
Pull the needle through so that a knot forms on the bar.
Continue working until the end of the line.
This stitch really comes into its own when used for organic forms as the twiggy line is ideal to use as grasses or in floral motifs. But you can also work this stitch with in a shape. For instance if you work it with a triangle it makes great Christmas trees if you need a quick little motif on a seasonal project.
This sample was worked in Rayon ribbon floss. You could add a few seed beads and you would Christmas baubles on your tree! Or work a line of them along the top of edge of a Christmas stocking or a seam on a crazy quilted project
You can also work this stitch in wide band. The central band of stitches contrasts with the knots. This sample is worked in hand dyed cotton #5 perle thread. This would be useful as border or you could use it to couch down ribbon to project
This sample is a line of hand dyed Danish cotton and line of hand dyed crochet cotton. Both are about the same thickness as cotton perle # 5 thread and both threads are from the same dye bath.
In the case of this sample I worked the line narrow and the knots pushed to the sides. The thread is cotton perle #5.
Knotted Cretan stitch will also follow a curve well. The sample below is worked in hand dyed cotton on linen.
Try it out as this is fun and versatile stitch that has much to recommend it!
Experimenting with different threads can be expensive, as you would normally have to buy a whole skein of each type of thread. So I have made up my thread twisties which are a combination of different threads to use in creative hand embroidery. These enable you to try out stitching with something other than stranded cotton. For the price of just a few skeins, you can experiment with a bundle of threads of luscious colours and many different textures.
These are creative embroiders threads. With them, I hope to encourage you to experiment. Each Twistie is a thread bundle containing silk, cotton, rayon and wool. Threads range from extra fine (the same thickness as 1 strand of embroidery floss) to chunky couchable textured yarns. All threads have a soft and manageable drape so that twisting them around a needle makes experimental hand embroidery an interesting journey rather than a battle. Many are hand dyed by me. All are threads I use. You may find a similar thread twist but no two are identical.
You will find my thread twisties in the Pintangle shop here.