June 2, 2009 10:27 PM   Subscribe

"[Celtic] knots are most known for their adaptation for use in the ornamentation of Christian monuments and manuscripts like the 8th century St. Teilo Gospels, the Book of Kells and the Lindisfarne Gospels."

Some are drawn by using simple graphs, while others utilize basic shapes. And then there are people who just have way too much time on their hands.
posted by litterateur (9 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Much like traditional maori patterns, Celtic knots are a cool, meaningful design that have been unfairly blamed for hundreds of thousands of shitty tattoos. See also: Japan.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 10:35 PM on June 2, 2009 [6 favorites]

I would be remiss if I did not also include the following:

Making Celtic Knots
Drawing Celtic Knots
Drawing Linear Knots
Celtic Art and Illumination
posted by litterateur at 10:55 PM on June 2, 2009

Here's the definitive book on the subject if you want to craft yer own crappy tattoo: George Bain's
"Celtic Art: the Methods of Construction"

Bain divided Celtic decoration into three main styles- knotwork, spirals and key patterns (aka fylfot, aka swastika). Then there's the twisty animals, zoomorphics which combine elements of all three. That came later, because the pagan culture forbade representational art, akin to Islam. An artist explains more here.

Thirty years ago, I was in junior high and obsessed with this stuff. There was an artist in my area who taught it. That lead to the formation of a circle with about four other people. We made a calender for a few years, which he'd sell at the music events he promoted. I remember getting my parents to put up this Breton-separatist fiddler. He spent the evening after the show ranting about the French government. Man, thinking about it now, it was totally the further adventures of Max Fischer.

Even back then I was designing tattoos for myself, anticipating when I'd come of age. But after finally getting two of them, the whole neo-primitive thing was taking off, and it didn't seem as special.
posted by bendybendy at 3:25 AM on June 3, 2009

And there's always the Celtic knot thingy - free software that produces gorgeous, freeform Celtic knots. It's a bit fiddly to get going though.
posted by dylanjames at 5:54 AM on June 3, 2009

I love the work of Jim Fitzpatrick (some pics may be NSFW). His books are wound with knots and illuminations. When I was young, we visited Ireland for a family vacation and I bought (or, rather, got my parents to buy for me) every book of his I could find.

Oh, yeah: Fitzpatrick is responsible for that ubiquitous portrait of Che Guevara.
posted by steef at 6:54 AM on June 3, 2009

Le sigh. I have one of those crappy tatoos. The instant I turned 18, I went out and got it. I have always comforted myself in these ways:

1) At least it's not tribal.
2) At least it's not Japanese writing.
3) At least I can't see it.
4) At least it's not on my lower back.

Oh fuck, I forgot, it is on my lower back. Le sigh again.

Still, Celtic knots are pretty awesome. Maybe I should go get one tattooed on my lower back...
posted by nosila at 7:43 AM on June 3, 2009

Celtic knots, and motifs inspired by Celtic knotwork, show up a lot in cable knitting too. Like this. Non-knitters might be surprised to discover that the crosses are pretty trivial to do; it's the sharp curves that have a reputation for being fiendishly difficult. The canonical example is a sweater pattern called St. Brigid. It's been a milestone for lots of ambitious knitters (first blog post will give you an idea of the intensity the process can take on). The designer is Alice Starmore, who's produced a ton of amazing work and a fair bit of intellectual property controversy and attendant Internet dramaz.
posted by clavicle at 8:22 AM on June 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

And then there are people who just have way too much time on their hands.

I would be so happy to never read this sentence again. OMG! Someone spends a lot of time on his hobby?!?!

The sentence is especially ironic and stupid when you write it on the internet, since 80% of the world's population would look at you making a stupid comment on the internet and say, "Some people have way too much time on their hands."
posted by straight at 9:19 AM on June 3, 2009

I was being ironic. Many apologies.
posted by litterateur at 10:33 AM on June 3, 2009

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