K, Knots

Object name


Date made

Circa 2007

Place made


Four-paged booklet illustrating knots and motifs starting with the letter 'K'. Part of a 34-part embroidered alphabet made by Dr Isabel Elliott and completed in 2007.

Content description

This is a four-sided book worked in knots and featuring motifs beginning with the letter 'K'. The first page, on the left, features a kingfisher and a kingcup (marsh-marigold) flower on a blue silk ground. The kingfisher, which is embroidered on an appliquéd grey patterned silk fabric, is made of cotton threads while the kingcup involves a mix of cotton and silk threads. The kingfisher is worked in French knots, bullion knots, Chinese knots, stem stitches, and coral stitches. The kingcup's centre is made of French knots, while its petals are worked in satin stitches. The smaller bud is made of very fine buttonhole stitches. Both stems are worked in raised stem band stitches and the leaf is worked in a complex network of what appears to be a needlelace stitch. The second page features a gold silk fabric upon which is embroidered a cursive 'K'. The K is worked in gold and green silk threads in French knots, bullion knots, a variation on upright cross stitches, and double knot stitches.

The back two pages feature a variety of knot gardens worked on canvas in polychrome wool and cotton threads. There are 13 individual knot gardens in relief, four smaller garden motifs in between them on one page, and seven Celtic-inspired designs arranged between them on the other. The canvas is worked in French knots, cushion, and reversed cushion throughout with the Celtic motifs worked in cream tent stitch and the smaller garden motifs in plait stitch, French knots, and bullion knots. The knot gardens include French knots, bullion knots, satin stitch, open Cretan stitch, web stitch, old Florentine stitch, and plaited braid stitch. Some of the gardens feature beads, ribbon, and appliquéd felt.

This booklet is one of 34 parts of an embroidered alphabet made by Dr Isabel Elliott and completed in 2007. Elliott embroidered a large box which houses 32 four-sided booklets. Each booklet focuses one on letter of the alphabet and embroidery technique whose first letter matches that letter of the alphabet (A for appliqué, B for blackwork, etc.). Some letters have multiple booklets due to having multiple techniques. This large and impressive group of objects was made by Dr Isabel Margaret Elliott (1931-2016). She received her PhD from Cambridge in 1958 and became a paleobotanist at the Natural History Museum in London. It is clear that her love of science and the natural world influenced her embroidery. When she married her husband, Isabel was made to leave her job (as the Natural History Museum was then part of the civil service and married women were not allowed to be part of the civil service). She began to attend classes at the RSN after meeting a woman embroidering for a class run by that organisation. After the RSN she joined the Embroiderers' Guild. She became a Life Member of the Guild and gained her City & Guilds, which enabled her to teach. She was Mistress of Embroidery at Gloucester Cathedral and was a travelling tutor throughout the UK. Elliott produced an immense amount of embroidery, much of which is available to view at


width: 61cm
height: 23cm





Credit line

Gift of Susan Perkes, 2019.

Catalogue number


Other numbers

RSN 2296

Web references

© Royal School of Needlework