Cross Stitch Tips: 5 Easy Steps for Creating a Waste Knot Stitch

Fingers threading needle
MOURIER NINA / Getty Images

Waste knots are an essential technique for cross-stitching. They are not only used for securing floss but also the basis for many decorative stitches on cross-stitch projects. It is an excellent way for the beginner to understand the mechanics required for a project. Both beginners and advanced cross-stitchers use the waste knot technique. In this tutorial, you will not only learn the steps on how to cross-stitch a waste knot but also discover the benefits of this type of stitch.

To begin, tie a knot in the end of the floss. Thread the needle and draw the floss through the top of the fabric near the edge. Do not pull too hard or the knot will pull through the fabric, especially if you draw the floss through a hole in Aida fabric that has a lower count to it (14 count or lower). Bring the floss up through the back of the fabric and begin stitching. In this image, a waste knot to start a back-stitch. Waste knots are one of the easiest ways to start a project.

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    Complete Several Stitches

    Person inserting needle and thread into fabric.
    Connie G. Barwick

    After you have set the knot in place, you can complete several stitches. Create half stitches by using the waste knot. You can see that the knot is still there after you had made the stitches. This keeps your place and the floss tight. Do not worry about keeping the knot in for the entire project, as it is a good place holder for the beginning of your project. To get comfortable with this knot; try tying this knot several times with several types of floss and tension. It will help you figure out what exactly will work for you. Complete several rows of stitches to secure the floss even more.

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    Clip the Waste Knot

    Scissors cutting thread on fabric.
    Connie G. Barwick

    After several stitches are in place, clip the waste knot. You do not need to worry about the floss coming undone or your stitches coming out because you have enough cross stitches in place to anchor the project. Be sure not to clip it too close; you only want to get rid of the knot. If you clip the knot too close, you run the risk of cutting the stitch and losing all of the cross-stitch work you just completed. The waste knot acts as an anchor for your other stitches and once you have those stitches in place you can get rid of the waste knot. This is where the name for this technique comes from. It is a knot that you cut and throw away.

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    Secure the Floss and Continue Stitching

    Person threading needle into thread on fabric.
    Connie G. Barwick

    On the back of the fabric, secure the floss. Use an extra needle, or temporarily unthread your needle and floss to do this. For beginners, you may want to try this technique several times until you get it down and it looks neat. It might be a good idea to have a sample fabric with this technique before trying it on an actual project. You can also try several sample stitches while learning to do this technique. You can create as sample stitch sampler for stitches and waste knots. Frame it to remind yourself how far you have gone in the cross-stitch world.

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    Use the Same Method for Starting Other Stitches

    Needle inserted into thread.
    Connie G. Barwick

    The same method is used for starting French knots. Once you have this knot technique down, you can try several different styles of knots. This is a great way to add some flair to your cross-stitch piece. French knots add depth and texture to any projects.

    Waste knots are not just for securing your beginning stitches, this technique is the basis for other decorative knots. While some cross-stitchers do not want to knot the back of their projects, it is an excellent way for a beginner to start. It all boils down to personal preference. Some people do not care about the back of the project as it is never shown but others want it as clean as the front. Create a sampler to practice this technique and other decorative knots.