View Full Version : Celtic Knots 101 - Working in a Circle

12-29-2006, 12:16 PM
Ok! Lookit! I'm actually ahead of schedule! Ready?

Let’s start with working running borders in a circle. I tend to think of it as bending them. And while it appears really complicated, I find it easier than working in a straight line in a lot of cases. Reason #1, no corners. Reason #2, it’s easy to sneak in an extra repeat or curve if you need it. And last but not least, reason #3: It creates a big visual impact with very little effort.

The books on knotwork spend a fair amount of time & effort discussing how the ancient scribes did it, using minimal tools and using lots of geometrical terms that send this math-challenged girl into a tizzy trying to make heads or tails of what they’re talking about. They also spend a lot of time having you draw in “guides” that aren’t needed in the long run. Now, while I fully support the idea of understanding *how* it was done in the past, I am also very very glad I’m not living then (I like electricity, indoor plumbing, and having a protractor!). That being said, there are a few geometrical terms/definitions you’ll need to keep in mind:

--Circles have 360 degrees.
--The diameter of a circle is the measurement from edge to edge.
--The radius of a circle is the measurement from the center point to the outside edge (it’s *half* of the diameter)

There are couple of things to remember when working with curves: #1: the arcs of the knots on the outside edge are going to be longer than those on the inside, so make sure you aren’t working so tight & small that the inside edge will become impossible. #2: Any breaks in the pattern will be very obvious, so take that into consideration when drafting your initial composition.

In the interest of not re-inventing the wheel, I’ll start with a simple running border you should feel comfortable with already: The braid. Here it is in a straight line:


We won’t worry about trying to make it all one band at this stage. And to make it easier, I’ll show you how to plot the circle to resemble the graph paper. We’ll need to draw 4 concentric circles, 1/4” apart. In order to stay small enough you won’t be overwhelmed & big enough you’ll still be able to see what you’re doing, we’ll make the outside circle 4” in diameter. Here’s the step by step:

I’ve divided my paper in half, & picked a spot to be the center of the circle. Measure 2” along the line (this is the radius) from the midpoint and make a tic mark. Now, make 3 more marks 1/4” apart moving back toward the center. Using your compass, set the point in the midpoint, and the pencil end at the outside mark. Draw your circle. Now, keeping the point at the midpoint, set the pencil end to the next mark, etc. Once you’ve drawn in these 4 circles, the largest will be 4” in diameter, then 3 1/2, 3, and lastly 2 1/2 .


Next, take your protractor & line the 0 mark up with your center line and the center on your midpoint. Now make little tic marks every 10 degrees. At this size, 10 degrees is roughly the same size as the 1/4” grid of standard graph paper. I usually only make tic marks around 1 half of the paper & use the midpoint to line up the ruler. This way, if my tic marks are a little off, it’ll be consistently off and still pass through the midpoint (important when we get to the spirals). Use the ruler to draw in guidelines on both sides of the circle. I hope its looking a little familiar at this stage.


Now, just like you did on graph paper for the running borders demo, start drawing in the “bones” of the braid.


Draw in your curves & start the weave pattern.


Erase the “bones” and clean-up.


Now, remember the rule about braids? It won’t be one band of interlace when they connect if the number of curves on the outside edge can be evenly divided by 3. Since we used 20 degree segments per curve on the outside (tic mark every 10, and having the curves use 2 spaces like we did on the graph paper), our 360 circle has given us 18 curves. Which is evenly divided by 3. So, to make this into 1 band, if we make tic marks at 9 degrees, instead of 10, we would have 20 curves along the outside. Which *can’t* be divided by 3.


With me so far? Ready to move on?

12-29-2006, 12:24 PM
It’s Challenge Time! :evil:

When we worked with the triangles & pretzels, I showed how to do knots without that center band. I did that for a few reasons. Primarily, as you start to design carpet pages and work with the knotwork in irregular spaces, grids and what-not are going to be harder and harder to come by. The other reason is that I find it really fussy to *always* work it out on graph paper and then try to adapt it to an actual piece. So here’s the assignment: Can you do a simple twist around a circle without using a center line? And I’d like you to start getting used to using as few guide marks as possible (less erasing). I’ll show you how to set it up. But lets practice a bit first:

On your sketch paper draw 2 fairly long parallel lines, 1/2” apart. Make tic marks (top & bottom) every 1/2”. Give yourself as much room as you need to start feeling comfortable. Now, draw in your top & bottom curves, centered between the tic marks and letting the right-hand side cross over into the space for the next arc (remember the discussions on which direction the knots will “pull”?). These will be the outer edge of your bands. Here’s how mine looks:


Next, draw in the inner edge of your bands on the top. Extend your lines a bit more. Notice how the inner edge is aligned. It should naturally become the outer edge of the lower curves & create the “over” portion of the twist. You may need to correct some angles & extend your lines. Don’t worry if it looks a little messy. That’s what erasers are for.


Now complete the lower curves. Try to keep the width of your bands consistent. You may need to correct the angles and refine a bit. That’s fine. Notice mine is *really* sloppy looking at this stage.


Clean it up, and there you go. Mine still looks pretty rough. This is about 3 times the size I usually do a twist in… hmmm… maybe the teacher needs more practice too! :lol:


Now for the fun part. Let’s bend it around a circle.

Just like you did for the braid, draw a center line, pick a midpoint, measure up 2” and draw a circle 4” in diameter. Now make a tic mark 1/2” from that circle, moving back toward the midpoint. Draw in another circle using the tic mark & the same midpoint. This one should be 3” in diameter.


Now with the protractor, mark around at 20 degree intervals. Using your ruler, make tic marks to guide you.


So now that you’ve had practice doing a twist in a straight line, apply the same steps to going around the circle. I’ve re-discovered that at this scale, I’m much neater if I draw in both edges of the bands at the same time. Do whatever works best for you, just make sure your weave pattern is constant.


So those of you who aren’t math challenged have probably realized that this is two bands of interlace (twist = 2 curves for a full repeat; 360 degrees in 20 degree segments = 18 segments. An even number of curves keeps this two bands). The question is: is that what we want? Let’s pretend the answer is no. There’s a bunch of ways to address/fix it:

#1 Figure it out before hand. We need an odd number of curves, but want to keep them relatively the same size as we have here. If we make it 19 segments, instead of the 18 we’ve done, we’d make a tic mark at *about* every 19 degrees on the protractor (360 / 19 = 18.94736etc) . Or we could make it 17 curves. That would be a tic mark *about* every 21 degrees (360 / 17 = 21.17647etc). Or we could sacrifice size and make it 15 curves, with tic marks every 24 degrees (360 / 15 = 24). Oy. Makes my head hurt…

#2 Break the pattern & join the bands in some way (only once!) like these:



#3 Rob Peter to pay Paul, so to speak. Pick an area & rework the curves, sneaking an extra one in (my preferred method if I didn’t think of it before I started the whole thing & I don’t want to break the pattern). This is essentially the same as fix #1, except you don’t make yourself crazy counting little lines on a protractor!


Still with me? Next, some rules for working with braids & plaits.

12-29-2006, 12:31 PM
These are the rules for braids & plaits when working in a circle:

Twists – 2 bands
Any number of curves divisible by 2 = 2 bands (even numbers)
Any number of curves not divisible by 2 = 1 band (odd numbers)

Braids – 3 bands
Any number of curves divisible by 3 = 3 bands
Any number of curves not divisible by 3 = 1

4 band plait
any number of curves divisible by 4 = 4 bands (8, 12, 20, etc.)
any number not divisible by 4 but divisible by 2 = 2 (14, 18, 22, etc)
any number divisible by 4 plus *or* minus 1 = 1 (seems like the long way to say that, but it’ll make sense in a sec.) So 15 curves = 1 band. 17 curves = 1 band.

5 band plait
any number divisible by 5 = 5 bands
any number not divisible by 5 = 1

6 band plait
any number of curves divisible by 6 = 6
any number not divisible by 6 but divisible by 2 = 2
any number not divisible by 6 but divisible by 3 = 3
any # divisible by 6 + *or* - 1 = 1 So 17 or 19 curves = 1 band

See a pattern emerging? These rules hold true when working a border around a frame, too. Which is why symmetry is *not* your friend if you’re trying to make it all one band! When you’re working in a circle, it’s easy to sneak an extra curve in or remove one. The human eye doesn’t detect it very well. In a straight line, it’ll jump out.

Anybody care to guess what the rules for 8’s and 9’s are? And anybody notice the, um, easiness of the prime numbers (1,2,3,5,7,11,13,17, etc.)? And now I could get *really* esoteric and dense on you and launch into a discussion about sacred geometry… But I won’t. Although it’s tempting… :evil:

Questions? Lets see how you’re doing!

Next part will be knotwork around the circle (brush up on your triangles & pretzels!). I hope I’ll have it up in the next few days.


01-05-2007, 08:50 AM
Hopefully, y’all aren’t completely tangled in bending a running border around a circle!

To start with, we’ll use a pretzel knot & a triangle knot. And we’ll keep it simple. If you're aiming to make a border or a ring of a circle all one line, an easy short-cut is to create a repeat that uses only one band to begin with. Like a pretzel knot. Or opening a triangle knot (only once!) in some way. To show what I mean, here’s the pretzel knot we’ll be using. All I’ve done is replace the bottom curve of the pretzel with a twist.


And here’s the slightly modified triangle knot. In this case, I broke one of the curves & turned them into straight bands.


Now, the nice thing about this is that no matter how many of either of those you connect up, it’ll still be all one band as long as you’re using those open ends. If I go too fast or skip over something you’d like in more detail, definitely let me know!


For this one, we’ll be doing a 9-pointed star ringed by a 4band plait. So just like for the previous section, we’ll start drawing in some concentric circles. Draw in your center line, pick your midpoint, & draw in a circle that’s 5” in diameter, then 4”, and finally 2”. With your protractor, make tic marks every 20 degrees. Going around the circle, draw in a solid line from your first tic mark to the midpoint. At the next tic mark, just make little marks across the lines for your circles to the midpoint. Once you’ve gone around, erase the midline that’s breaking the pattern. You should have something that looks like this:


Now from the tic mark on the outside edge of your 2nd ring, draw a straight line to the next solid line on the inner edge. From the same tic mark, draw in a straight line to the other solid line. After you’ve gone around the circle, you should have this:


So in your center ring, draw in the pretzel knot using the solid lines & your tic marks to help you get the spacing right. Pretty neat, eh?


Moving to the middle ring, flip the pretzel knot so the twist portion is pointing outward. Now, for this one, I won’t be joining the rings of knots. *But* if you want to, in order to keep your weave consistent, this 2nd ring will need to run the opposite direction as the center ring (it’s because these knots are only one band). So the center in my example is rotating clockwise. The 2nd ring rotates counter-clockwise.


Next comes the triangle knot. Work two of them in the spaces between the points like this:

After you’ve gone around the circle, you should have something that looks like this:


And last step, put a 4-band plait in that outside ring. For this example I’m not all that concerned about trying for all one line. So ‘cause its easy I’m doing 2 curves on the outside per section. And out of habit, I’ve got them pulling clockwise. If I wanted to connect the middle ring to the outside, the plait would need to pull counterclockwise. Use the tic marks to help you get the spacing right. I’ve done it here as a progression.


And here it is completed:


Thanks to a little photoshopping, here’s what it would look like if we had the middle ring rotating clockwise, too.


The difference between the two is very subtle, but it is there in how the viewer’s eye moves around the circle. This is something to keep in mind when you’re composing a larger piece. Sometimes, you need to run things in an opposite direction. It helps to hold the piece still for the viewer.

Ready to move on?

01-05-2007, 08:55 AM
For this next one, lets use the same knots, just in a slightly different layout and order.

Once again, we’ll do 3 concentric circles. First one is 5” in diameter, then 3”, and lastly 2”. And in the interest of not completely redoing the layout, tic marks at 20 degrees. So just like before, divide the smallest ring into 9 pie pieces. Leave the middle ring open (the plait will go here). In the outer ring, draw in the points of the star, so the fat end of the triangles line up with the ones on the very inside circle. Here’s what mine looks like:


Just like the previous example, work the pretzel knot in the middle.


Next, work the 4 band plait. I’ve done 2 curves per section, allowing it to pull clockwise.


This time, I’ll put the triangle knot in the “points”, and work 2 of the pretzel knots in the spaces between.


And here it is completed.


If you look at them side by side, even though they use the exact same elements used in a slightly different order, they look *very* different. So hopefully by now you’re getting some ideas of different ways you can take some really basic elements and make them look *hugely* complicated.



Ready to take in up a notch? I should have the next part posted later today. And please! If I’m going too fast or you need me to explain something, feel free to post or pm me.


01-05-2007, 09:28 AM
Tess, This is awesome! Looks like a challenge. I'd better find a protractor and get hopping (or knotting as the case may be). Great start for the new year!! - Chris

01-05-2007, 02:17 PM
Great to have you along, Chris!

Buckle your seat belt, 'cause this next one's a doozy!


01-05-2007, 02:30 PM
Ok, on this one, we’re going to shoot the moon. By the time we’re done, it *will* be all one band. We’ll be using 4 main elements. A braid in that outside ring, then 3 different knots. Two of the knots are variations of the same triangle knot. Here are the knots:


Knot A should be fairly familiar from the pretzels & triangles thread. Now, notice that B and C are essentially the same, except instead of a point at the bottom, I’ve substituted a curve. That’ll make sense in a sec. If you want to see a step-by-step of how to draw these, let me know.

So lets start drawing in our circles. Just like before, draw your midline & pick your midpoint. We’ll be drawing 3 concentric circles again (did I mention I have a thing about threes?). Outside circle will be 6” in diameter, then 5”, and lastly 3”. With your protractor, make tic marks every 10 degrees. We’ll start by dividing our circles into 12 pie pieces. So starting at your midline, skip the next 2 tic marks & draw a line at the 3rd mark (30 degrees) that passes through the midpoint to the other side. Make tic marks for the other degree points across your circle lines (10 & 20 degrees). Here’s what mine looks like:


In that middle ring, start at your midline. Draw a line from the inner edge of the ring to the next tic mark on the outer edge of the ring. Repeat on the other side of your midline. Now do the same around the circle at *all* of the solid lines. You’ll end up with something that looks like a bunch of chicken feet like this:


So starting with your center ring, draw in knot B. As usual, I’ve done mine pulling clockwise.


In the middle ring, work knot C with the curve snugged up to the outer edge of the ring. Make sure it’s pulling the same direction as the center ring. Once again, mine is going clockwise.


Now work knot A in the triangle spaces you have left. Unlike the previous examples, we don’t need to do two of them. If the line that divides that triangle in half is confusing you, go ahead & erase it. I like to leave it ‘cause it helps me get the points right. But do what works for you. In case you haven’t guessed it yet, this is our repeat unit.


Now for the braid in the outer ring. This is the tricky part. Getting it to line up correctly with the middle ring is crucial. So instead of starting to draw your curves for the bands on the outer edge of the ring (like usual), start on the inner edge. We need a curve to run next to that middle curve of knot A and the curve of knot C. So start with those (ignore the erased bits… got a little ahead of myself).


Now fill in the other curves you need on that inner edge like this:


Now do the outer edge. Remember that for a braid the curves don’t mirror each other. So for this I’ve got 4 curves on the outside edge of the ring like this:


Ok, because I’m neater if I do the whole thing at once, I’ll go ahead and fill in the braid the rest of the way around. If you want to go section by section, that’s just fine. Just make sure all of your “overs” are pulling the same way. Looking at the outside edge of the braid, mine are going *counter-clockwise*. This is of *huge* importance a bit later when we start joining the separate knots together.


So now that I’ve got the braid finished, I’ll repeat knots A, B, & C around the circle like this:


Here they are, all filled in:


Whew. Next, let’s connect them.

01-05-2007, 02:39 PM
Alright, let’s figure out how to join the knots!

Before we break & join anything, let’s figure out what’s going on… some of you may have already realized that the braid on the outside ring is three strands (360 / 12 sections = 48; 48 / 4 (# of curves on our outside edge per segment) = 12. Which is evenly divisible by 3.). Remember the possible ways to “fix” the problem? In this case, because of where we need those inside curves to be, we can’t sneak in an extra curve & I *really* don’t want to change the layout. So we’ll need to break & re-join the braid in some way. Start thinking about it. We’ll come back to it.

Now the plan is to join knots B (from the center ring) to knots C in the middle ring. And then join our new BC knot to the braid. And because we don’t want it to feel left out, we’ll also join knot A to the braid. Once we’ve done that, we’ll be left with 3 bands. Here it is in color so you can see a little better what’s going to happen.


The trick is going to be connecting the red strand to the yellow strand. And then connecting the blue to the red. And then the yellow one to the blue… hmmm…

Ok, first things first. Let’s join up the knots in the inner two rings. Think of the tic marks where we drew the solid lines creating the “pie” pieces as numbers on a clock… This’ll make the next part easier. Because I like how it looks with all of those points coming together at the “12 o’clock” line, we’ll leave those & join them on the other edge (circled in red). And to maintain balance, we’ll mirror that when we join the next pairs (circled in blue). And let’s not forget connecting to the outer braid (circled in yellow)


So take the points & change them into curves on knots B & C. And replace the curves on the outer edge & the braid with an “X”. Here is a detail view of how to do it:


And here’s the full view:


This is still 3 bands. So… Here’s how to break & rejoin the braid into one band. Down at the 6 o’clock position, change the two curves on the outer edge into spade corners. Do the same thing at 2 o’clock & 10 o’clock.


See what happened? At 10 o’clock, the blue & red bands are connected, allowing the yellow to pass by. At 2 o’clock, the red & the yellow are joined & the blue slips through. 6 o’clock is where the magic happens… This is where the blue & the yellow get doubled back on themselves & get connected.


And now we have one band! :clap: There are other ways to do it. But I’ll let y’all figure them out on your own.! ;)


Any questions? Let’s see how you’re doing!

I’m off to start getting the demos ready for the spirals…

01-05-2007, 07:20 PM
Ok, I have *no* idea what happened, but it's been brought to my attention that these two layout images I posted are *not* correct for the simpler pretzel/triangle circle demo. They are correct for the monster-make-it-all-one-line demo. I'll try to post the correct ones later tonight. So so sorry if I've confused anyone!




01-05-2007, 09:50 PM
Ok, these are the correct layouts for that first pretzel/triangle circle:



It was also pointed out to me (thank Hubby who was reading over my shoulder) that this:

(360 / 12 sections = 48; 48 / 4 (# of curves on our outside edge per segment) = 12. Which is evenly divisible by 3.)

is total gibberish. :o Clearly, math challenged. What I meant is:

360 / 12 sections, 4 curves per section = 48 curves. Which is evenly divided by 3 (16, btw.)

So. I *think* that takes care of the corrections. So sorry if I befuddled you!

01-06-2007, 09:24 PM
Tess, I have whiplash from following the curves and spirals. I'm getting me a protractor tomorrow (Eyeballing it doesn't work well). - Chris

01-07-2007, 07:42 AM
Tess, I have whiplash from following the curves and spirals. I'm getting me a protractor tomorrow (Eyeballing it doesn't work well). - Chris

no no no.... no injury! Yep, protractors are your friends... :D


01-08-2007, 05:58 AM
this makes my head hurt! :eek:
<goes and curls up in the fetal position>

01-08-2007, 06:37 AM
Ok, so far I've given Chris whiplash & mud's head is going to explode... :lol:

anyone else going to try? :evil:

Post or PM if you need me to, um, put crash pads on this thread... :lol:

01-08-2007, 11:53 AM
Tess, I am okay now! I got a protractor and a new compas and am laying out my project. This thread is cool. I think that when you take this tutorial and add it to the other knot tutorials, I smell a "How-to" book in the future!! - Chris

01-09-2007, 07:48 AM
Tess, Here is my progress so far. Individual knots to get the feel. I have to connect them later. :eek: - Chris

01-09-2007, 11:34 AM
Excellent, Chris!

So... are you going to aim for all one knot? If you want to try it, print this out & use markers or something to help you follow through where the lines will go. Small tip to save you *lots* of erasing, hair pulling, cursing, and heartache! :lol:

When I was working the demo out, the family went into hiding... snarling dangerous beast-mommy who is better off left uninterrupted...


01-10-2007, 07:17 AM
Tess, I think I got it:clap:. I did make the mistake of creating the outside ring pulling in the wrong direction My over-unders were ending up as over-overs:eek:. Here is my homework. I believe we have one knot at this point. The next step is some ink to make it crisp. - Chris

01-10-2007, 09:26 AM
Great, Chris! :clap: :clap: :clap:

Are you feeling totally insane, yet? :D Btw, I just noticed that the triangle knot at 3:00 isn't tied into the braid. And at 6:00 you've got an over-over-over. I'm sure you'd have caught that while refining & inking... ;)

Can't wait to see it inked! Getting some ideas on how to do your own? :evil:

01-10-2007, 11:37 AM
Yow. Looking at it now, I can see the problems:eek: ! I will correct those and start inking (I may have caught the problems when I inked it, but it would probably be after I had applied the ink:rolleyes: . This actually didn't drive me crazy ... I had some peace and quiet. Everyone else was in the other room watching something on TV. Between my kids, their friends, and the dogs, even my wife disappeared into another rooom to quietly read a book!

I am starting to get a few ideas. I also see a lot more linking and wrapping that can be done in this basic model (of course I'd probably end up breaking the one line up into a bunch if I did that.:lol:

Where is everyone elses homework papers?? Hey Mudslinger ... You giving it a go??

- Chris

01-10-2007, 05:30 PM
Yow. Looking at it now, I can see the problems !

Very very minor problems. You've done a great job on this!

Where is everyone elses homework papers??

I think I scared them... Too much math. :o


01-11-2007, 06:39 AM
Next update. Inking in progress! - Chris

01-11-2007, 06:57 AM
oooo.... coooool!!! Y'know, I spend so much time thinking about color for these, I forget how really dynamic they can be just like this...

Waiting for the big finish!

01-11-2007, 11:16 PM
Ok I tried this and even the dogs were howling 1/4 of the way through it!! YOU have talent! And more patience than me LOL

01-12-2007, 06:38 AM
Pammy, Keep practiciing! I give the dogs a cookie to keep them quiet. I also send the kids out to get ice cream! I have done some of the other knotwork tutorials (by Tess as well) so I didn't start this one cold. I was a newbie to knots before the tutorials though!!

Tess, Here is the (almost) finished work. I am going to make a copy and try some shading to see if I like it. I'm happy with the results. Your design looks awesome! - Chris


01-12-2007, 07:40 AM
Pammy-- This is a rough one to jump in with. I kinda assumed folks would have done the other two already. So before you abandon the idea of knots completely, work through the running borders demo. Much simpler to follow... I know it *sounds* really strange, but after a bit, I break through some kind of wall, & it becomes almost meditative. Seriously relaxing. Post or pm if I can help!

Chris! That looks excellent! :clap: :clap: :clap: I'd love to see what you do with color! And if you could work up a piece using one of the borders from the Triangles & Pretzels with this... :evil: I double dog dare you! :lol: But not joined to it. Even I'm not *that* mean! :lol:


01-12-2007, 11:24 AM
So so so so soooooo sorry I didn't catch it while it was still just pencil, Chris. This'll teach me to reply before the coffee has me fully functional. So.

I know you dropped some curves on the outside braid, and I think I musta miscounted... But before you broke the outside braid, you had 36 curves all together. 36, being evenly divisible by 3, was going to give you 3 bands. When the braid was broken & rejoined, you were left with 12 curves per section. Which is *still* evenly divisible by 3. Hope you don't mind, I pulled it into photoshop.


At this point, I'm not sure it can be broken & joined to get to one knot without working some more curves in... At best, you could probably get it down to two by fiddling with the center...

Of course, from a composition standpoint, especially if you're adding color, all one knot isn't always going to work in your favor, y'know? Because with color, you can pull the viewer's eye in different ways that doesn't rely simply on the lines of the piece.

I still think you did a fabulous job! Forgive me?


01-12-2007, 12:01 PM
Tess, Thanks for the explanation. I should have done the same check you did before I inked it. But having said that, It gives me something to shoot for! I have no problem with you taking the drawing into photoshop, you are correcting my homework! And of course I forgive you ... there is nothing to forgive ... I screwed up the math rules stated above. I will hopefully fet it right in the next project. - Chris

01-12-2007, 04:09 PM
TAnd of course I forgive you ... there is nothing to forgive ... I screwed up the math rules stated above. I will hopefully get it right in the next project. - Chris

ah, thanks. I just felt bad I didn't catch it while it was still easily erased. :rolleyes:

Still think you should try working up something with some of the borders you did before... hint hint. :D

Anyone else going to dive in?


01-21-2007, 12:25 AM
OK, so I tried my hand. I am going to post 3. I will post them again in the p/I forum when I add all the berries and stuff and a little goofy thing in the middle. but I thought I would run these by you guys to see what you think.
I think I am going to go with the larger version because of all the leaves, berries and stuff. I am afraid if I go with the smaller, it will be so busy you lose the entire knot. the thing I found odd, and probably because I didnt use a circlometer to make my arcs. that in some cases, the arcs seem to short and others to long. you dont notice to much, and when I do them as vines, you probably wont be able to tell at all. but I didnt like how uneven some of them got. anyway, here was my shot at it.

These were all done as an 8" x 8" piece. right now just on some sketching paper till I git what I want.

01-21-2007, 12:27 AM
OK where did the pictures go?

01-21-2007, 07:47 AM
Nice! Can't wait to see the vines & berries & the "little goofy thing" in the middle! What a tease that last image is! Really, no fair... :D

About the arcs of the curves being different lengths... are you talking about the difference between the ones on the outside & inside edge? If so, that's the nature of the beast. For the most part, yours are looking very good. The widths of the bands are fairly steady & there aren't any areas that won't fix themselves as you refine it.

Curious... in your example you've used 36 curves on the outside... were you trying for all one band? Not a big deal, but if you were, now is the time to fiddle the design...

Looking forward to your updates!

01-21-2007, 12:52 PM
Hi Tess,
Well, I kinda figured due to the radius inside and the radius outside being different, so yeah, the circumference of the arcs being different would seem to be a part of "the nature of the beast. but in a few spots , what I labeled the "span' here seems to not be uniform. I agree with you, when I pen this, the thickness of the bands will be better, but seeing I will be making them vines, that aspect, isnt going to mean much. but it is good to know, as I suspect, I wont ALWAYS be make them vines :D

I was expecting to do a solid band or wreath. with no break. so that worked out.. was that an accident:lol: or good protractor work????

I wasnt meanint to tease, I posted the two different sizes, so I could get some feedback as to what other folks thought. I had not started the final yet, as I have to tweak the inside image (size) so I have sketch that up again once or twice. It will be within the next day or so I would think. I think, I may post a whole wip on my thinking and process in the p/i forum. I originally was going to do it stipple, but right now, I believe I will do similar to my last one with the mushrooms in the corner. It just goes better with the subject for this.

thanx for all your help Tess, this was fun. (drew some interest from my 13year old. I am trying to get her interested in showing up and signing on in here. I am teaching her some basics tool and composition things on a poster for school. maybe if it does well, I can con her into coming aboard :D )

01-21-2007, 07:19 PM
but in a few spots , what I labeled the "span' here seems to not be uniform.

Looking at it, I suspect that will resolve itself with time & practice. It looks to me like the inconsistencies are due more to some of the arcs being a little sharper where others are more shallow. Considering you're going to adapt it to a vine, chalk that up to "organic" rendering. ;)

I was expecting to do a solid band or wreath. with no break. so that worked out.. was that an accident:lol: or good protractor work????

ummm... are you using the example you just posted or the one where you're practicing fleshing out the vines? If it's this one, you have 18 curves on the outside edge. That'll give you 3 bands of interlace. Unless I miscounted, the one you've done the sketching on has 20, which *will* be one band.

I hope your daughter will post if she works something up that doesn't make her cringe with the inevitable 13-yr-old embarrassment... :)

Got the beginnings of the La Tene border demo going... Hopefully will get it up sometime tomorrow. That is if nothing bursts into flames. :rolleyes: In a bad patch of people believing *their* emergency is also *my* emergency.


btw, Bob (it is Bob, isn't it?), thanks for the plug over in fantasy/sci-fi. I lurk there a fair bit...

01-21-2007, 07:46 PM
I think I will be going with one with the 18 curves. The one with the 20 I was messing around with ideas, not sure any of that other than the filled in parts, are organized appropriately.

I told her she is eligible and could learn a lot. we will see how things go. she fools around with my digital pad a lot, but not manual work. but we are working something that I am hoping will spark an interest.

it is Bob, and your welcome, I really think some of those folks could use this, its good stuff.

01-22-2007, 07:27 AM
Bob, Great start! I am looking forward to the Berries on the vine. I'm sure it'll come out awesome! - Chris

01-22-2007, 11:11 AM
Penciled and ready to rock. Itll have to wait till I get home and Kim has hitting lessons tonight so it will be tight.

01-23-2007, 07:37 AM
Bob-- Saw & commented in your thread in the P&I forum... Just wanted to add that next time (I strongly suspect there *will* be a next time... you're showing all the signs of an addict :evil: ) if your border is more than one band, that gives you a logical way to use more than one type of vine/berry...

Excellent Job!


07-10-2007, 09:14 PM
Okay, I've sketched a circular knot and I'm working on the final project. Unfortunately I neither have access to a scanner or the materials/medium I want to finish it off. So really, this post doesn't have much content in it... Just letting you know your tutorials are genius, and useful! I've double checked that my creation is one knot, and that it is crossed over correctly, but I'll try to show it to you guys soon.

07-12-2007, 07:24 AM
Glad this helped you, Egyptian Artist!

And yes... I'm nosy. I wanna see what you've done. :D :wave: No pressure, though. Nope. None at all. :lol:


07-24-2007, 12:15 AM
Oh Tess!!!!

THanks soooooooo very much for putting this up. Yes my kneck is soar from the whiplash. :thumbsup:

This is soooooo absolutly very helpful. I am getting the courage to try one finally.


07-24-2007, 07:34 AM
Glad you found it Inkmonkey!

Let me know if you need some help... And definitely post what you come up with!


05-25-2008, 04:20 PM
Thanks for the tutorial threads. These were some very interesting threads to read! It's always neat to see how different knotwork artists create their designs. I've talked to a few other knotters online, and everyone I've talked to has a slightly (or vastly) different approach to their work. A rich tutorial and discussion group like this is wonderful to see.

05-26-2008, 08:12 AM
Hi, Sidney! :wave:

Welcome to WC! Glad you enjoyed the tutorials. I'd love to see you posting some of your knotwork when you're ready to share!


05-27-2008, 03:53 AM
Unfortunately, I haven't been very inspired for knotwork much during the past year so there's nothing new to show, but I do have a tutorial I wrote about a year ago which I was thinking about posting. I'm just not sure whether it would be better to post as an article, or as a thread, as you have done here. I really like the lively discussion that has gone on in these threads.

Thanks for the welcome. WC! looks like a great place, and I hope I can consistently find the time to be active here. I've really been happy with what I've read so far. :)

05-27-2008, 07:06 AM
Hi, Sidney--

Private message one of the pen & Ink forum mods (you can see their names in green down at the bottom of the forum page) and ask one of them about the article publisher. Last I heard, it was a bit wonky and not terribly functional... But that was about a month ago, and the status could have changed. So if you want to go that route, check with one of the mods.

If you decide you want to do a thread, please feel free to! Personally, I'd love the chance to bat some ideas around :) . Just be patient, 'cause this particular forum has been pretty sleepy lately... :rolleyes:

Looking forward to seeing whatever you decide to share!~

05-27-2008, 12:01 PM
Thanks for the tips. :)

05-28-2008, 04:50 PM
Sleepy ... but not asleep:eek: ! Sidney, I took a walk around your web site ... Very nice! I love the knotwork you have there. We are always looking for people to show off their artwork and we love tutorials. Rosemary's tutorials advanced my skills quite a bit:clap: , but there is a long way to go. Please post the tutorial, you'll find us willing to give it a try!
- Chris

08-16-2008, 10:12 PM
This is a great tutorial, thanks for making this.

I've been having some trouble with the knots that sort of span off of the triangle and pretzel knots...-a b & c- and I was hoping you'd still be willing to do a step by step; it would help a lot, thanks.

08-17-2008, 07:33 AM
Hi, Sulkasiipi! :wave: Welcome to WetCanvas & the obsessive world of Celtic knots! :D

I've been having some trouble with the knots that sort of span off of the triangle and pretzel knots...-a b & c- and I was hoping you'd still be willing to do a step by step

More than willing to do a step-by-step! Before I do though, I wanted to make sure I understand which part is giving you trouble... Can you post an image of what you have so far and let me take a look?


08-25-2008, 03:41 AM
Sorry it took so long for me to reply; we had a storm and the power was knocked out b the wind for several days, so that was fun.

Unfortunately, I do not have a scanner, but I have an idea of what is giving me some trouble.

Regarding A, I do not even know how to begin with that one ! Ahaha, I just can't seem to wrap my mind around that. As for B & C, well I either make it too wide, too long, I can not figure out how to...intertwine I guess, at the bottom.

Haha, I really hope this all makes sense...if not, then I apologize !

08-25-2008, 06:49 AM
Ok-- I think I understand where you're running into trouble... give me a bit to pull together a step-by-step... Back in a bit! :wave:


08-25-2008, 12:31 PM
Alrighty! as requested, step by step of knots A B & C (give a yell if I did the wrong ones! :o )

Knot A:

worked over a 4x4 grid on graph paper... 1st, mark off your work area. 2. make tic marks at the middle of the lines that make up your triangle (doesn't have to be exact) and a center line. 3 draw an arc from the midpoint at the top to the midpoint on the left leg of the triangle. 4. Same thing, only on the right side. 5. draw an arc from the left corner to the right. 6. Now draw an arc from the left corner to the midline. 7. Same thing on the right side. 8. draw in the other edge of your bands (only partially completed in the pic). 9. erase to create your "overs".


Here's a shortened version using the circle instead of graph paper (it's done as a progression)


Knot B

This one is worked over a grid of 4x6. 1 Mark off your work space, and give yourself tic marks that divide the long legs of the triangle into thirds, with a center tic mark along the top (don't need a midline for this one). 2 Draw an arc from the top left corner to the 1st tic mark on the right side. 3 repeat on the right side. 4 draw a curve to join the arcs you just did. 5 start drawing in the other edge of the bands. 6 draw spade ends in your top corners 7 on the left side, take the line making up the inner edge of the spade, and extend it in a slight curve to the 2nd tic mark on the right side. 8 repeat going from the right side to the left leg of the triangle. 9 finish drawing in your bands. 10 erase to create your overs.


And in the circle:


Knot C

Once again, worked over a 4x6 grid. Follow steps 1 through 8 for knot B. 9 (marked 9c in the pic) draw a *curve* connecting the lines on the left and right side of the triangle. 10 Finish drawing in your bands. 11 erase to create the overs.


And in the circle:


Hope that clears everything up for you! If not, let me know where you're running into problems & I'll see what I can come up with. Just keep in mind that an awful lot of this is going to come down to practice.


08-29-2008, 04:40 PM
Thank you ! This really helped a lot ! I can finally do these ahaha.

And you're right ; a lot of it will come down to practice , which I hope to do quite a bit of! So thank you again ! :D

08-30-2008, 07:19 AM
Glad to hear it helped!

If you get a scanner or digital camera, I hope you'll share what you come up with on your own! :wave:


The Dabbler
09-03-2008, 02:31 AM
This is just wonderful. I like to do relief carvings on oval shaped bases and am always wondering what to do for a border. Carvers love Celtic knots so that makes this especially nice. I don't know if I can translate a circular patern into an oval but I'm sure gonna give it a heck of a try. Thankyou for a very well thought out presentation.:thumbsup:

09-03-2008, 06:42 AM
Hi, Dabbler!

I don't know if I can translate a circular patern into an oval but I'm sure gonna give it a heck of a try.

It's actually pretty easy to translate circular to oval... I'm assuming you have a protractor? All you'll need to do is increase & decrease the width of the "pie" pieces as they go around the oval. It might take some trial & error to come up the best/most interesting way to do it, but I bet you'll get it!

If you get stuck, feel free to post or pm me! :wave:

And if you do something you *really* like, I hope you'll post your results! I love to see what other folks do with knotwork. :)


The Dabbler
09-03-2008, 12:26 PM
This will help with another passion also. Being able to create a Celtic love spoon of my own design would tickle me no end. Not that I mind paying for other peoples designs (hint hint) but it will be fun to finally design one of my own.

09-03-2008, 01:47 PM
Not that I mind paying for other peoples designs (hint hint)

Send me a pm if you want to toss some ideas around. But I think it would be *very* good for you to be able to do your own! :)


10-13-2008, 12:59 PM
Tess, I'm so sorry I'm late in coming here, but I also was starting to get into knots and kept messing them up. Just found this and didn't realize you had to have it gridded and use all the tools to make it look just perfect. Going to try one! Thanks for this, you worked SOOOO hard, and Chris, just wonderful how you made yours too with the ink and all.. .wow!

10-13-2008, 03:38 PM
Hi, Rose!

You don't absolutely have to grid & use tools... but when you're in the process of learning, it certainly helps! Or, it helped me! :)

Yell if you have questions-- and love to see you post what you come up with!


10-13-2008, 03:39 PM

I will... I have just started the over/under stuff and boy, that's hard to get everything to look just so, but I hope to get some done soon. Always playing! :) Aren't we all? Thanks for ALL your hard work on this... it paid off... I now have a great reference tool! :) You should charge! ;)

10-15-2008, 08:50 AM
You should charge! ;)

Maybe someday! :lol: In the meantime? I'm just glad the tutorials are helping folks!


06-28-2012, 03:51 PM
I seem to be several years behind everyone on this bit of the forum (story of my life!), but I have been working from Bain's "Methods of Contruction" for a while before I found this tutorial. Loving the challenge of the circle patterns, which appeal to my mathematical brain, so thank you, Rosemary, for your excellent instructions here. When I have something more substantial to show I'll show it.


06-28-2012, 09:27 PM
Looking forward to it, Ian! :wave:

07-20-2012, 10:18 AM
759852Hi, Rosemary,

Getting there, I think. I hope the scan of my efforts is attached. I'm not at all experienced in art, having been kicked out of art class at school well over fifty years ago, so I'm what you might call an ancient beginner! I had to put in extra circles to get any sort of consistent size for the various parts of the drawing, but I'm now ready to start inking in the lines :crossfingers: .

I am thinking of using a purple colour for the "gaps", rather than follow the thread itself, or maybe even a variety of colours. Any advice on colours would be appreciated, either from your own practice or other people's experience, as I am not at all knowledgeable in that area.

Thanks for the encouragement,

Best wishes,


07-21-2012, 08:52 AM
From what I can see it looks good!
Your scan isn't very clear so I'm not seeing everything.

Your idea to put purple or something else in the "gaps" is a good one. If you outline your bands in black, and put the purple in the spaces between as your background, you'll create a look where the knotwork exists as an object separate from the background. If you outline in purple *and* use it in the gaps, then the knotwork will be a part of the background. Sort of a texture or pattern, not a separate object.

Both looks are very effective and have their uses.

One thing-- if your paper is too badly scuffed from erasing you may want to trace the design onto a fresh sheet of paper & ink that instead of your original drawing. It'll give it a fresh crisp appearance where paper roughed up by the eraser won't.

Looking forward to seeing an update!

07-21-2012, 11:47 AM
Thanks for the comments, Rosemary.

I have actually started outlining in purple, using a Pilot V5 Tecpoint - I don't know if they are used in USA but they are quite common over here. It seems to be going ok so far, but I'll let you know. I understand your comment about the black lines separating the pattern from the background, so to speak, so I'll see how it comes out.

One thing I've done with other designs is to ink in the background and then take photocopies of that to play with colours: it seems to work well enough for the level I'm at just now, though as I get more proficient it obviously won't do.

I'll keep in touch - thanks again!


11-08-2013, 11:31 AM
This thread is excellent! Got my graph paper........... :clap:

11-08-2013, 11:40 AM
I posted a shot of this in "Mixed Medium" but figured I would include a shot here too.........since the "how to" for this circular knotwork came from your instructions (thank you) and especially since I'll be creating, or attempting anyway some pretty intense stuff............and sharing I hope.


11-25-2013, 02:25 AM
I did one of your examples this weekend. What a huge amount of fun that was. I don't have it inked or transferred yet. I'm thrilled I got this far! Thank you so much for posting this! I'm also working on one of the border/triangle tutorials, and I went way off on my own with that one!