Palestrina stitch produces a neat knotted line that will hold a curve well. Each knot has an ‘arm’ that can be varied in length to add variety and interest to the stitch. You can use this stitch as a linear stitch or to outline shapes in a design. A firm twisted thread, such as pearl cotton, shows the knots to their best advantage. The thickness of your thread will change the look of this stitch.
I really like Palestrina Stitch because it forms a ridge of knots. In this sample, I worked Palestrina in Ecru perle #3 thread and it forms a line of knots.
How to work Palestrina stitch
Work the stitch from left to right, along a line.
Bring the needle up through the fabric and make a small stitch diagonal stitch before taking the needle to the back of the fabric. This forms the first bar onto which the stitch is made.
Bring your needle up again at the base of the diagonal stitch (see the illustration). From the top slide the needle under the diagonal stitch. When you pass the needle under the bar this movement will take your thread over the top of the bar.
Once again pass the needle under the bar. Loop the thread under the needle and pull the needle under the bar. Pull the thread snug to form a knot. Take the needle to the back of the fabric
Move along the line make a second bar onto which you work your knot.
In the illustrations, I have used quite large foundation stitches so that you can see how to make the stitch. Space the knots evenly and close together to produce a textured line. You can work the knots closely together to produce a heavy line or spaced quite far apart.
Varying the stitch
I work most of my samples in perle #5 cotton but I often try it in thicker yarns (like knitting wool!) of perle #3 cotton.
You can change the size of the arms to add textural interest and to create patterns or add beads.
As I have already said Palestrina stitch is a textured stitch which holds a curve well.
If you widen the stitch it becomes very interesting. For instance, you can change the length of the arms. If you work the stitch on a curve and change the size of the arms it becomes very twiggy and organic. This makes the stitch ideal in floral sprays etc.
This sample is worked in silk thread on block 84 of the I dropped the Button Box quilt. I changed the angle of the first bar so that it was at a more vertical angle.
You can also work this stitch on even-weave fabric. I worked this sample on hand-dyed Aida cloth
Palestrina Stitch worked along the base of some lace. The cotton I used is Perle #5. This seam detail is from Block 76 in the I Dropped the Button Box quilt
The next sample is on the same cloth but every second stitch has extended arms in order to create a pattern.
Palestrina Stitch is a stitch found often on Italian embroidery – hence the name but it is also known as Double knot stitch, Tied coral stitch, Old English knot stitch, Smyrna stitch and it is also the stitch used in Twilling so it is called Twilling Stitch. If you extend the bars above the knot (as they are in the illustrations) this stitch becomes Long Armed Palestrina stitch. If the bars are long and below the knot it becomes Long Legged Palestrina stitch.
Whichever version you use I hope you enjoy the Palestrina stitch.
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