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Bequeathed by Miss M. E. Pleydell-Bouverie
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Knotting was a popular and widely practiced occupation for women in the 18th century. A length of linen or silk thread was wound onto a knotting shuttle, and with it a series of knots made at close intervals, to form a length of trimming. This could then be applied to a ground fabric decoratively as a type of embroidery, or made into fringes for trimming furnishings like bed hangings and covers.
Requiring regular but undemanding manipulation of the thread, knotting was easy to take up and put down, to work on while travelling or conversing. Decorated knotting bags, containing shuttle and thread, were regularly carried around, even to theatres and assemblies. The Comtesse de Genlis, in her Dictionary of Court Etiquette, maintained that knotting had no other purpose than to enable a woman to appear composed when in company.
Ball of knotted brown silk thread, with plain knots.
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Materials and Techniques
Diameter: 3.5 cm approx., Length: 1.25 in, Width: 1.25 in
Ball of knotted silk thread, England, 1750-1800
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Ladies in polite society were expected to be proficient in a wide range of needleworking skills. The graceful rhythm of techniques such as knotting or netting was thought to show off the elegance of a lady's hands. Embroidery, knitting and crochet are still current today. Knotting produced a decorative thread, with rows of little knots, that was sewn onto fabric. Fine net, made with thread from a decorative shuttle, was often further embroidered. [27/03/2003]
Textiles; British Galleries; Needlework accessories
Textiles and Fashion Collection