White coral knots – lots and lots and lots of them!

Before I bring you up to date on my Schwalm Whitework project, I need to tell you about two fantastic articles about linen on Luzine Happel’s web site. “Linen: Embroidery Fabric from Flax Fibers – What needleworks – especially whiteworkers – should know about” discusses in great detail linen and what kinds are best to use for embroidery. The second article, “Old, handwoven linen — “Bauernleinen” – what whiteworkers should consider before buying” talks about buying old linen. Both are very interesting, complete with wonderful photos.


I’m getting good at coral knots. I no longer struggle with getting the thread in the right place to bring the needle under it to make the knot. Yep, it’s getting easier. And I’m about 15% done with all the knots I’ll be doing for my table runner. 15%! There are a LOT of coral knots in this project. Considering that in Schwalm Whitework most if not all of the shapes are outlined in coral knots it’s not that surprising (see what I did there? knots…not? )


What I’m still working on is getting those knots spaced equally from one to the next. Sometimes they’re too close together and sometimes too far apart and very once in a while, just right. (A bit like the Three Bears…) I know it will take practice. As Luzine Happel reminds her readers “they will become more even in the course of time”. I’ve not spent that long doing them so I’m reasonable happy with how it’s going so far. As you can see from the three photos, my knots have already  improved with practice.




The good news is that I’m now very comfortable working on this piece “in the hand” – meaning not in a hoop and not on a frame. In fact, embroidering coral knots around curved shapes like hearts is much easier if the fabric is free from a hoop or frame. I’m constantly turning the fabric to get the right angle to put the knots in easily and evenly. Schwalm whitework is a lovely, relaxing kind of embroidery.

DSCF3453.JPG-2If you have any tips or tricks for perfectly spaced coral knots – other than practice, practice, practice – please share them with us!


6 thoughts on “White coral knots – lots and lots and lots of them!

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      My husband would tell you that patience with something that doesn’t come easily isn’t my forte…but in this case I’m having a great time!

      Liebe Grüße,

  1. The coral knot sounds like one of those, “if you count the fabric threads to even them out they look better” stitches. I admit to not caring for coral knots and bullion knots and other similar things, and I tend to avoid them whenever possible. I even used to avoid French knots, but a few years ago, I forced myself to do a nose-load of them and I am okay with them now. I guess the same thing will have to happen with those if I want to do them regularly…… When you look coral knots up in stitch encyclopedia, they look farther apart, maybe they are easier to learn if you start doing them farther apart and move closer as you gain confidence??

    • HI RMW,
      Hummm, that’s an interesting idea. I do think when they don’t look as nice as I want them to it’s more often because they’re too close together rather than too far apart. You may be on to something!
      Liebe grüße,

      • That’d be a test. 🙂 You know, pick up a “test sheet” of fabric and do several rows, different distances apart and see how you like them. 🙂 It could be that the person who did the Schwalmbook liked the knots packed like sardines. Maybe you are a dolphin and would like a skoosh more space? Just because the author (or tradition?) packed them like super-nerds at a sci-fi convention, does not mean you have to, you are entitled to treat them like happy dogs chasing around at a pet-park instead. 🙂 They write books like that, as just embroidery tradition, education or guides, not crafting constitutional law. Embroidery constitutional law says you need a needle and thread, what you do with them and your piece of fabric is up to you. 🙂 I could just be slinging sauce though, I know very little about that Schwalm stuff, maybe there are “laws or rules”, like with cross stitch. I doubt you can do true cross stitch without crossed stitches, so that likely is a “law” and not just a guide in that case. Hehe, maybe someone out there is creative enough to loophole that one, but I am not. 🙂

  2. Good for you for trying a new technique! I’m planning on signing up for the Schwalm correspondence course with EGA but it’s a fairly small project, just a band to go over a pillow. I did a needle book with a heart on it and it wasn’t too bad. As I recall, I packed the coral knots in fairly tightly. I’ll dig the project up and post it on my blog when I’m ready to start, sometime in November. I’ll be watching your progress, you do such lovely work!

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