I find one of the easiest ways to build nice, consistent Celtic knots is to use graph paper. This gives you an even guide to follow as you plot out your knot. I usually use graph paper where every second dot is slightly bigger, going both up and down. This leaves you with one regular dot, and then an emphasised dot, then another regular dot, and so on. You can make your own own 'dot' paper with regular graph paper by taking a marker or pen and making a dot at the corners of the graph squares (see panel below for dot marking). You can also print out a premade copy here.

In each panel I will show you step by step how to create variations on the Basic Celtic knot. Each new step will be in red. As you go through the panels, old steps will turn gold, and there will be a new step highlighted, again in red.

To alter our Basic Knot, we're going to begin the same way as a Basic Knot would start. Mark off a portion of your graph paper, including at least 5 big dots and 4 little dots across. Mark the same distance down your graph (5 big and 4 little dots) so it is even. Each small dot is again going to be an intersection where two "ropes" of knot are going to cross over each other, but this time we are going to interrupt their path with "walls", which will force the knot lines to bend in different directions. The walls are placed between two (or more) big dots, and only lay on the horizontal and vertical. Place these walls anywhere you like on your graph.

On the example I have marked off four walls in a symmetrical manner. You do not have to make the walls this way, however, you can place them anywhere within your marked off area on your graph, so long as the walls lie between two big dots. Your walls may also be made in combination when you are creating your knot. You can line them up several across, or partner them up into "T" or"L" shapes, for different knot designs. You can also try "+" shapes, and even more complex shapes just by joining up the walls in different combinations. Always remember to make the walls stay on the horizontal and vertical, however, or your design will not turn out right. I often mark off where my walls will go in light pencil on my good copy, or with a different colored pen if it is my rough copy. This method of decorating basic knot shapes is great when you have a very large knot, and want to add some more detailing to it.

At this point, you want to start marking "X" over all the little dots on your graph. Do this over every little dot on your graph except for those that have a wall through them. This is where the knot lines are going to be bent away from their paths. As they cannot pass through a wall, the lines will fold away naturally into other shapes and directions as we shall soon see. Again, you can make the thickness of the knot lines any width you want, only keep it consistent throughout.

Continue to cross off all your little dots, until they are all marked off.

Now your knot should have all it's little dots crossed. You can probably see already where the pattern is going to go, just by looking at your design. This is good. When you are having to make alot of different patterns to fill an entire page, you can often tell just by making your knots up to this stage whether they are going to look all right together and how they are going to fill up the space. At this point you can then either scrap them if they aren't going to work, or add more walls where you think they should go without too much pain and suffering!

Now we add the caps on the corners of the knot. Normally you also check to see if your knot needed to have "elbows" or bends put on the sides, but for this example there aren't any. Again, like in the Basic Knot, the corners can be capped many different ways. Notice how at no time do my knot lines or corners pass over my walls, this is how the pattern develops.

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All tutorials copyright Cari Buziak, 1995-current