The Hows of Knots

Not to long ago my sister sent me a message.  She was working on a project making yo-yos and was making lots of knots in the end of the thread.  Her message was:
I have a silly question, do you use one or two hands to tie a knot at the end of thread when when you prepare to sew on a button or hem something or other hand stitching?

I had to think for a second.  Hmm.  Yes.  One handed.  I wrote back:
One.  Mom taught me how to wrap and roll on one finger.”

Judy wrote back:
YES!! That’s what I want to know how to do. I knew she did but I never picked that up.”

Isn’t that funny after years since my mom has passed we still remember things she did.  Even simple things like tying a knot at the end of thread.

I quickly scrambled and try to figure out some way I could show her how to do it.  I was able to take a video for her but I can’t figure out how to load it here…so, I took some pictures.

(Excuse my hands.  Constant washing due to my being an in home childcare provider makes them totally unsoft and unsmooth.)

I always lick my finger first.  Then I wrap the thread on my left finger like this. (I am right handed)


Then I put my thumb on top of the place where the threads cross and the roll the thread off my pointer finger.

Once it’s off, I reposition my fingers above the now twisted part of the string.  Then I squeeze with my left hand just tight enough to prevent the twisted area from sliding my fingers.  At the same time I pull the needle that is my right hand.

…and there you have it.  A knot.
My mom taught me embroidery starting at age 4 and she always started with a knot.  I remember being so proud the day I learned how to tie one.

It was kind of fun reminiscing.  My mom was the best…and an excellent teacher.  So there you have it …step by step pictures to knotting the end of your thread.

Inquiring minds want to know…do you tie knots like this?

20 thoughts on “The Hows of Knots

  1. Diana Nelson

    That is how I tie a knot. Speaking of knots – what about thimbles. I’m searching for one and have come across various kinds but haven’t decided on any as yet. Any thoughts on what kind of thimble to choose?

  2. Helen

    I never put a knot in crossstitch or embroidery. I weave ends in without creating a “lump.” That’s how my Grandma Pauline taught me. For sewing, I use a quilter’s knot my mentor showed me. There should be a video on the “net.” You wrap thread around needle and pull through the wound thread to create a very small knot. One that is easily pulled through between batting and fabric top/backing to bury securely.

  3. LaNan Eldridge

    Yes my mom showed me the same way but when she hand quilted she would wrap the thread several times around the needle and then pull the needle and slide the wraps down the thread and a knot would form! It’s hard to explain but I know how I do it!!!

  4. DebMac

    I never could pick up the finger roll knot but I bless the day I found out about the “perfect knot”, the same one Helen uses.

  5. Shasta

    That’s how my Mom taught me, but my daughter is grossed out by the spit. I took a hand quilting class, and she showed us how to wrap the thread around a needle. No spit, and the knot is small enough to be pulled through the fabric into the quilt so that is how I do it now.

  6. Sandra B

    Jo, I had to laugh when I saw your question asking how your readers tie knots….I actually had to get out my needle and thread and tie a knot to confirm that what I do is basically the same as what you do. Because it is so automatic for me, I had to actually watch myself tie the knot!!! Then I laughed again!!

  7. Ruth

    I tie a wet finger knot the same way you do, for button sewing, etc. I can also do tne quilter’s knot, but often resort to the finger knot when r=the quilter’s knot slides clear through the quilt fabric.

  8. Maureen

    Diana, I have used a Roxanne’s thimble for many years. I like it because it comes in various sizes and because the top is open-ended, I can keep my nails a bit longer. They are a bit pricey, but I like it more than any other I’ve tried.

  9. Lisa B

    I used to put a knot in my thread that way until I found out about wrapping it around my needle and pulling the thread off the needle and down the thread to create a knot. I think a quilt teacher taught that one time at a class and had some reason for it being Superior so that’s the way I do it now. When that comes to cross stitch Etc I wove the tails in and did not start or end with knots so the piece would lay flatter when framed.

  10. Judith Fairchild

    My Mom taught me how to knot like except no spit. I’m left handed and Mom was right handed. No problem I just copied her and do it left handed like you do.

  11. Debbie Collins

    Absolutely and my mom taught me to tie a knot that way more than 60 years ago. I did learn a knot similar to the quilter’s knot from a great aunt who worked in a men’s wear factory…it was used to hide the thread when starting a hem in fine men’s wear coats and pants. Interesting. Hadn’t thought about that in years…maybe since the blind hemmer came into my former seamstress life!

  12. Candi

    Yep finger lick and all. But I also use the quilters knot do it can be “hidden” between the layers. I’m guessing I learned from my Mom or one of my Grandma’s but I’m not sure. I am sure my granddaughter learned the finger lick wrap from me. LOL

  13. Virginia Grenier

    My mom always did it that way but was/is not a good teacher. I tried to learn by observing but it’s hard to see what’s happening in between fingers and she always did it so fast I couldn’t tell what was happening so, to this day I’ve never learned and use 2 hands to tie knots and I use double and triple knots so that they are big enough that they don’t slide through the fabric.

  14. Virginia Grenier

    HELP!!! I’ve been trying to contact you by email but I keep getting failure notices. Got your email from the post entitled “Ask Jo: Babies and Such”. I don’t know if there is a typo there or what. I’ve tried without and with the period at the end. No luck. Really want to privately message you somehow.

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