Tuesday, 24 May 2011

C is for... Celtic

Sorry this post is a bit late this week, exams got in the way!

I thought I would make this post about Celtic designs, as I think they're beautiful and really interesting things.

The first Celtic themed design I ever made was this cross stitch of a Celtic horse:
I love the way all parts of the pattern interlock, but you can trace it from start to end. I also like the way that it incorporates parts of a Celtic knot design and yet the purple strands come from the horses mane to represent hair. The only thing I'm not sure about is why it appears to be a seahorse rather than an ordinary horse...

Anyway, I started to look into the meaning of Celtic knots and other Celtic designs. There is a lot of discrepancy in agreement about the meanings, and little documentation, although some meanings are more well accepted than others. In my opinion, there is very little set meaning to the intricately entwined designs, and people can place there own interpretations on what they stand for. There are of course, any different elements to Celtic designs, including knots, animals, crosses, spirals and religious iconography, but the one that really interests me is the Celtic knot.

In particular, I like the description of a Celtic knot as symbolising "no beginning, no ending, the continuity of everlasting love and binding together or intertwining of two soul or spirits." as well as "eternity...the eternity of life, the eternity of nature, and the eternity of love." Any Celtic knot which has a continuous or unbroken path is in fact termed an Eternity knot. They seem to show us how we are all part of a never ending cycle of life, but add our own twists and turns individually to that cycle. To me they symbolise the connectedness and continuity of life.

Obviously, there are some knots that have more apparent meanings, such as the triquetra, or Trinity knot, which is made from a single strand to give a three part design. This can be use to symbolized the connection of the mind, body, and spirit, or in a more Christian viewpoint, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The picture here shows it in its simplest form, but it can be much more complicated than this

Another is the Lover's Knot which it shows two continuous, unbroken strands that are intertwined and inseparable from each other. to me, the very definition of true love. The hearts that we see today in Celtic imagery are a modern addition to these beautiful designs, which are ever evolving. The image on the left shows a traditional Lover's knot, whilst the image on the right shows 2 strands travelling separate, intertwined  paths, then merging to become one before splitting again to become intertwined. To me that separation and yet still unity symbolises true love as closely as anything can.

Now where I am going with this, is that I recently heard of the death of a lady I know's husband, and Ravelry has banded together to make her a remembrance blanket. I couldn't think of anything better to symbolise the love she and her husband felt for each other and the fact that they are still connected and will be for eternity then a Celtic knot. So here is my interpretation for her, and I hope that her blanket brings her comfort through this difficult time.

If anyone else is interested in knitting Celtic knots, there is a Ravelry group called Celtic Renegades which is  committed to charting 1001 Celtic Motifs for knitting, and already has about half of those done, with the patterns all up on Ravelry.


  1. I've been looking for some Celtic knot charts. I'll check out that group. Thanks!

  2. Really interesting post :) Love the pattern on the blanket square, and I think choosing a celtic knot for a remembrance blanket is a lovely idea.

  3. I love celtic design and was fascinated by your post. I shall take a look at the group - thanks for the pointer. Hope exams are going ok.

  4. Thank you for an informative post. I learned something new today.

  5. Oh wow! Those are beautiful.

  6. i love celtic knots too; had one tattooed on my back about 15 years ago but the dumb-a left the ends open and turning upwards :P
    very interesting post. and i love your cross-stitched piece of art!
    how very very sweet of you to knit a piece of love and comfort for your friend. it's a gorgeous square and so meaningful.

  7. Love this pattern!
    Do you happen to have a knitting pattern for Celtic heart trinity?