Celtic Knot Inspiration

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, which means scores of people will be flocking the streets for parades, drinking green beer, and, for the most part, partying up and down on a Wednesday.

Felted Celtic Knot Bag

Celtic Knot Bag

I think my most memorable St. Patrick’s day was way back in 1995/1996 when I was living in New Orleans.  My god, they know how to throw a party in good ol’ NOLA!  We were drinking at the Parasols block party by noon, and then hit the French Quarter for the parade.  If you’ve never been to a St. Patrick’s Day parade in New Orleans, it is suspiciously like a Mardi Gras parade — except they throw vegetables off the floats in addition to the beads.  Seriously…I kid you not.  You are highly likely to get hit in the head with a potato or chunk of cabbage if you don’t pay attention.

Anyway, although I will be driving my pre-schoolers around to their various activities, rather than drinking green beer this year, it seemed appropriate to post my article on Celtic Knots to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day.

Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction

In June 2001, my cousin and I visited Scotland, and I bought a really cool book called Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction by George Bain.   A large part of the book is focuses on the Pictish designs from Ireland and Scotland.  From an artistic perspective, the best part of this book is that the author gives very detailed, step-by-step instruction of how to create the intricate knot work and spiral patterns.  He starts with the most basic  traditional patterns and shows how they  grow into extremely intricate designs used in architecture, embroidery, calligraphy and metalworking.  I tried taking a few pictures of the book to give you an idea of the step-by-step construction.  I know its hard to see, but take my word for it, it’s pretty cool!

The designs seemed so complex, it was a little daunting, so I never actually began any projects incorporating the knot work theme.  This March, the Etsy Hookers team is sponsoring a contest for Irish/St. Patrick’s Day themed items.   So, I figured this was as good an opportunity as any to try my hand at a Celtic Knot design.  Here are photos of three items that I’m working on.

Celtic Knot Backpack

Basically, I’ve been crocheting a bag or bowl in 100% wool.  Then, I crochet a very long chain in a contrasting color.  I then stitch the chain onto the item in a knot work pattern.   Finally, I felt the entire item in the wash a couple of times.  I’m pretty happy with how the handbag and backpack came out.  The bowl is not done yet, and I’ve included “in progress” photos to show the steps.  The designs that I chose are from the Pictish school and are actually some of the simplest ones in the book.

I like the concept that the one continuous line is a symbol of continuity or eternity.

Bowl – After One Felting, but Before Knot Work

Bowl – After Knot Work Design Has Been Pinned In Place

Bowl – Drying After 3 Feltings

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