Turkey work (also known as Turkey rug knot, Ghiordes knot, quilt knot stitch, tufted knot stitch, Turkey stitch, etc.; it has a lot of names!) is a great stitch for creating a soft, fuzzy texture in your embroidery work.
In this post, I'll take you through this stitch step-by-step. There is also a video tutorial at the very end of this post (feel free to go ahead and scroll down!), just in case that's easier for you to follow.
Before going through the steps, a pep talk: this stitch looks more complicated than it is. Have patience with yourself!
Step 1: Gather your supplies.
For this demonstration, I'm using a linen blend fabric, onto which I drew myself circles as guidelines using a heat-erasable transfer pen (I can remove these marks with heat once I'm done stitching). You'll also need embroidery floss and a needle.
Other supplies that can be helpful to have when doing this stitch include tweezers (to help you remove the little bits of floss you'll create as you begin cutting down your shape), an eyebrow brush (to help you fluff out your floss), and a pin (to help you keep your loops a bit more uniform and shorter). The tweezers, eyebrow brush, and pin are not necessary - they just make things a bit easier!
Step 2: Prepare your floss.
In these photos, I'm actually using 12 strands of floss! To achieve this, I took one arm's length worth of six-stranded cotton embroidery floss, doubled it over, and threaded my needle at the loose ends (leaving myself a loop at the other end).
In the video tutorial at the end of this post, I'm using just six strands of floss. Use whatever works best for you - in creating this tutorial, I realized that it doesn't make too much of a difference either way.
Step 3: Bring your needle down through the top of your fabric.
If you're working with 12 strands (like I am in these photos), you'll leave your loop sticking out of the fabric. If you're working with 6 strands (like I do in the video tutorial at the end of this post), you'll leave your tail sticking out of the fabric.
You can hold your loop (or tail) with your thumb to prevent it from going through your fabric. If you have a pin, you can also use that to hold your loop! I like using the pin to hold my loops when I'm wanting to be more mindful of how much waste I'll be creating once I get to the cutting and fluffing stage of this stitch.
Step 4: Anchor your first stitch.
Anchoring your stitch is what will prevent it from falling out once you get to the trimming and fluffing stage.
To anchor, start by bringing your needle back up through your fabric, just to the left of your first stitch.
Next, bring your needle back down, just to the right of your first stitch.
This straight stitch anchors our first loop (or tail, if you're using just six strands). In the photo below, I'm testing my first stitch to make sure it's anchored to my hoop - and it is!
Step 5: Create your next loop.
To create your next loop, start by bringing your needle back up through the hole you made from your first stitch.
Here, you can see that I'm using my pin to hold my loop down. Again, this is optional; you can just use your thumb to hold your loop down if that's what you prefer!
Bring your needle back down down, the same distance as the straight stitch you used to anchor your first loop (and/or tail), leaving a loop.
To anchor your second loop, bring your needle back up through the hole you created when you made your first straight stitch; and then bring your needle down, just to the right of your loop.
Step 6: Continue making loops until you've outlined your shape.
You can also continue making loops until you've completely filled your shape - I demonstrate what that looks like in the video tutorial at the end of this post.
Step 7: Cut your loops.
This is where the fun really starts!