I always try to do the best work possible when putting time and effort into an embroidery project, starting with the first stitch.
That very first stitch often starts with a knot - but it's not a permanent fixture in my design.
Knots are really not necessary in any embroidery project. They can cause the back side to be untidy and bumpy, with knots being felt on the front side of the piece. Knots more often than not have a bit of a tail, which can show through on the front side of an embroidered project.
Worse yet, knots can actually be harmful to a project, as they can unravel with use or laundering. As a result, precious stitches are lost over time.
There are two basic temporary knots used in embroidery. These are the away knot (top) and the waste knot (bottom).
Both versions start with a knot at the end of the embroidery thread, but an away knot works with virtually all embroidery stitches (the herringbone stitch was used in this sample), while a waste knot is best work with a stitch that has the potential to cover the tail as you stitch, securing it in place. Satin stitch (shown in the sample) and cross stitch are two good examples, as both of these stitches cross the tail of the knot on the back side of the work.
An away knot is worked 3 to 5 inches away (hence its name) from the area where the embroidery begins. The knot is clipped after working the embroidery, and the tail is then woven through the stitches on the back side of the fabric in the same manner as you weave the tail when ending a thread (also shown above).
A waste knot is secured as you stitch, with the knot trimmed away after the tail of the knot is suffiiciently covered and locked in place.
When you start a length of thread with a temporary knot your project will wear better and look better, so it's worth the extra few moments of stitching time to start off with the right knot.