Candlewick embroidery—or white work—was created in the 1800s. Candlewicking is characterized by white thread on white fabric. Unbleached muslin is also a favorite fabric for candlewicking. Unlike basic embroidery, which uses thin threads, candlewicking stitches use Perle cotton or crochet thread and large-eye needles. Embroidery hoops stabilize fabric for candlewicking. Any embroidery stitch can be used on a candlewick project, but candlewicking is distinguished by generous use of a variation of the French knot known as the colonial knot. Some candlewick patterns use the colonial knot for the entire design.
Transfer the candlewick pattern to the muslin fabric with a pencil or fabric marker.
Place the fabric in the embroidery hoop. Smooth the fabric out and tighten the hoop by turning the hoop screw clockwise.
Thread the needle with a 3-foot length of thread. Knot one end of the thread.
Pull the thread up from the back side of the fabric at a colonial knot point on the pattern.
Make a backwards C-shape with the thread; lay the needle against the C-shaped thread and bring the needle point to the back of the thread.
Wrap the working thread over the top of the needle (this completes a figure 8 thread pattern around the needle).
Insert the needle into the fabric next to the first stitch and pull through. The thread will gather into a colonial knot as the needle pulls excess thread down through the back of the fabric.
Repeat the colonial knot stitch until the candlewicking pattern is complete.
Keeping a little tension on the thread while pulling it back through the fabric helps the figure 8 thread on the needle to collect into a nice, tight colonial knot.