I call it Lentil Stitch…


Working on my embroidery last weekend, I wanted to fill a shape with little nubbins of stitch, but didn’t want to use french knots—a bit too small.

I started working the circles in satin stitch, but found that not only were they disappointingly flat (I could have padded, I know), but the horizontal tension squeezed the circle, making it a bit oval or egg shaped. Not a big deal, of course, but at some point I started to play with my stitching, to see if I could come up with something better.

WIP "Misses Ellen & Margaret Would Not Approve"

I thought of something I’d used a few months back: Rhodes stitch. This square-shaped filling stitch has a raised center, a little like a faceted stud, and is rarely used in crewel embroidery because it is described as a needlepoint and counted-thread stitch…for working on canvas or similar meshy fabrics. Don’t see why one can’t freehand a canvaswork stitch onto finer fabric—they’re essentially the same thing, after all, so I went crazy and used Rhodes stitch along with satin stitch to fill this part of the same embroidery, pictured above.

I reasoned that I could use the same technique to work circular studs, so I started doing that on my embroidery. And holy crap, I love the results! Because the stitches rotate around the shape, the tension pulls the circumference in evenly, keeping the circle shape very nicely. But what I love most of all about this adapted rhodes stitch is the way it forms a raised center in the circle, making a really pronounced little nubbin, very much like a split pea or lentil.

So I’ve decided to call my little “discovery” Lentil Stitch…at least until somebody *gently, gently! I’m attached to it, you know…* points out to me that this is a common and widespread stitch, and that it’s name is ________. If you know this stitch, please tell me what it’s called and where you’ve seen it.

Otherwise, “Please, please Mom, can I keep Lentil?” 😉

UPDATE: You knew this was coming, didn’t you? Looking back I realize how silly it would be for such a simple and obvious stitch not to exist. Hahaha, a right and silly goose, I am. Julie THompson, over on Stitchin’ Fingers, has very gently and…almost motherly…informed me that this is called the Circular Rhodes Stitch (duh, someone didn’t do a proper search of the internet before she claimed discovery!) and it is worked on plain fabric, not canvas.

diagram for circular Rhodes Stitch

Back to the drawing board! (I mean the embroidery hoop.)

lentil stitchI call it Lentil Stitch...


21 thoughts on “I call it Lentil Stitch…

  1. Lentil stitch it will be for me, too. From the title of your post, though, I can only think of Monty Python – “some call me…Tim?” When I read the title it’s “I call it…lentil stitch?”

    Great work by any name!


    1. Well, I will certainly use it, whenever I talk to myself. 🙂 But let’s not push the issue on others…let’s be very kaizen about this! After all, the venerable ladies of traditional embroidery are probably very attached to the name Circular Rhodes Stitch. I wonder if it came from Rhodes…


      1. No, Mary Rhodes (she says gently…and with a smile). But I like Lentil Stitch better too, even though I believe in giving credit where credit is due.



        1. Oh, excellent! We’re getting to the bottom of this stitch, really! That’s fine with me, happy to remember Mary Rhodes by her stitch. 🙂 Uh huh, especially when you put it so gently, and smilingly, and your e-mail is “jaws”. *nods vigorously* No problem, good bye, lentils! (they give me gas, anyway)


  2. Oh, I get hungry….tomorrow I will cook lentils, they take just about 10 minutes in Germany, to get cooked. But in earnest – this lentil stitch is so wonderful that I will at once start to try it. I propose “small forest lentil stitch” as a name. What a nice “how-to” post!!!


    1. This embroidery post has turned into a lentil fest! Just lentil stitch, I think, will be easier to remember! And Julie of sf has gently broken the news that it is called circular Rhodes stitch, the circle outline typically worked in split stitch, before the long stitches are worked over it. 🙂 Of course, it makes sense, “circular Rhodes stitch” *slaps forehead*


  3. Boil lentils in *plain* water, then add salt when they’re done. Salting the water means they take longer to soften (don’t ask me why). But anyway, I LOVE your new stitch! It’s very cute, and I’m going to use it and call it Smallest Lentil, even if it does tun out to have another name 🙂


  4. No, no, no, Carl, that’s boarding school lentil soup! Start with 8-10 bird’s eye chillies, a masala of cumin, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek (I love fenugreek), two bay leaves, a diced tomato in oil. Add lentils that have been boiled with salt and a stick of cinnamon. Eee, no macaroni! And I’ll pass on the meat broth…I’m off the saturated fats. Tasty! 😉


  5. Making lentil soup is easier. Tiny piece of onion, 1/2 chopped carrot, 1/2 cup spinach 1/8 teasp salt. Lentils soaked overnight. Cook in beef broth , simmer 1 hour.Sometimes add 1 cup ouzo macaroni, cooked, added just before serving.


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