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Celtic Knot Making

Updated on April 25, 2010

In my opinion there are very few things in the world as creative, intricate and interesting as Celtic Knots. They can be found in every shape, size, and color and with a little time, and some patience you can create your own.

There are many different methods for how to create Celtic Knots, personally my style was inspired by the book, “Celtic Art: the methods of construction” by George Bain. The book is a great resource for learning the art of creating Celtic Knots, Borders, Lettering, and many other useful tricks. If you are interested in learning about making Celtic Knots, I highly recommend this book. The inspiration for this article came from it. While the expounding and explanation of how to create the knots is original, the sketches are my duplicates of the illustrations in the book.

Creating Celtic Knots is easier with a pencil, because you need to erase a lot of your work, it can be done with a pen, but we will touch on that later. First Step: Using a pencil softly make a pattern of dots. For the first one let’s start with a basic three dot triangle. (1.A) Step two is to connect the dots with wide smooth loops. Make sure that you have one continuous line to connect the dots. You do not want any dead ends. (1.B) In the illustration we are looking at just a small part of a knot, thus the lines trailing off. The third is where it gets a little tricky. You want to parallel the lines you have, without crossing any lines. Make sure to have an inside border and an outside border. (1.C) Now you want to erase the middle line, and fix any areas where your borders are too wide or too narrow. (1.D) Once we have a good outline, go though and ‘weave’ your intersections. The rule for Celtic Knots is basic, one over, one under. (1.E) Color, Shade, and you’re done. (1.F)

As I mentioned earlier, if you do not have a pencil, and can’t erase your lines there is a different type of Knot you can make. Steps A and B are the same, except that you want to be more careful to get the proportions correct. Starting with step C, or (2.A) you want to divide each larger band into a double.
(2.B) Each intersection in your knot will look exactly like the next, as this is the only way to keep the “one over one under” weave. Observe (2.C) {Click on the Picture for a better view.}

Now that we have covered the basics of the Celtic Knot, we can move on to bigger and better things. One of the common uses for Celtic Knot artwork is creating borders. Again there are many ways, here is just one. Start by creating two lines of alternating dots. (3.A) It often works well to have everything about a half an inch apart. Once you have your dots, connect between the lines with crisscrossing lines, making a series of X’s. (3.B) On both top and bottom you then want to arch from dot to dot. (3.C) It is at this point that you can add a little flare to you knot, by adding breaks. You can erase an intersection and then reconnect the broken lines. This can be done randomly, or in a pattern. The pattern here is to break every other top intersection. (3.D) For adding the borders in (3.E) I paralleled the guiding line on both sides, sometimes the best way for making thin line borders. Weave your intersections and you're done. (3.F)

There are many variations to this simple border. Start the same as before, with dots, then connections, then arcs. (4.A) You then can use the outline form to make a thin band knot. (4.B) One of the other variations is to add a second alternating lone of dots inside out rounded triangles shapes. Curve up to connect from bottom dot to top dot, and vice versa. These then turn into the overlaps for the weave. (4.C) You can make this form more complicated by paralleling our outside lines once. (4.D) And then add yet another line to the middle for a little more flare (4.E)

The last Border Knot that we will look at is my favorite. It starts with two lines of dots parallel, and not alternating. (5.A) From here the next two steps are the same as before, however, we are going to be making this knot in sections of 4. At the beginning of your knot you are going to want to count three sections or X’s over, and then break all the way down through the fourth intersection. (5.D) Break and rejoin the middle, on the top and bottom however continue the line out past the knot. Run the extended line along the outside of the knot, then on the next forth section it will come back into the knot, while another crosses it to take its place. I know that it sounds harder than it is, but I have faith in you. From there the rest of the border is the same as before.

One final note on Celtic Knots would be that to have a true Celtic Knot all the lines have to be connected. When you break and rejoin your lines it has to always be one continuous strand. To this degree you can look closely at examples 3 and 5 and see where the breaks form a series of shapes, as opposed to a real Celtic knot.

Well, for now this is Judah bidding you all good luck and

“May you be in heaven three days, before the devil knows you’re dead.”


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    • jayjay40 profile image


      8 years ago from Bristol England

      very interesting hub, love your style of writing, keep up the good work


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