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 bold every second dot yourself on regular graph paper by just using a different colored pen or marker to touch them up (see panel below for dot marking).

In each panel I will show you step by step how to create a Knotwork Border. 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 make the Basic Knot Border, mark off a section on your graph paper that is at least three big dots high, and however many big dots across that will make the knot fill the length you want. Now you start to "X" off your little dots. Cover every little dot within your marked off area with a double lined "X".

Continue until your marked off area looks much like this. All your little dots will be crossed off with the double "X", and will join onto each other to form a grid-like structure. The basic knot border is really a basic knot that has been stretched out over a further distance, so instead of being square, it is long. All the same rules apply as to a regular knot. You'll notice that when you make a border as opposed to a small knot, there is a part of the knot that is repetative, and then two end caps that close the pattern. So your knot will create a pattern that goes - end cap, repeat portion, end cap, as you'll see in a few steps.

Now we start to close the ends of all our knot lines. Add your corners to the upper pair of lines on each side, and then to the bottom pair.

Now start at one end of your knot border and add all your elbows, so that all the knot line ends are used. There should not be any left over.

Now we begin to make all our overs and unders. Pick an intersection and erase the center so that it appears as though one knot strand is passing over the other. You can now follow that strand around and keep erasing so your strand passes over and then under the next strands. As you continue, you will see a pattern appear in you border, which is helpful to note when you are doing larger pieces. Along the horizontal and the vertical, the lines will always be passing across the other lines in the same direction. As you can see above, I have erased my overs all along the horizontal. Anything that falls directly in line (horizontally or vertically) with one over will also be an over. Anything that is on a diagonal with your over, will be an under. This is also helpful to use to check that you have erased your overs/unders correctly. It also makes it a heck of alot faster when you have a whole bunch of intersections to erase!

Here we see that our knot border has all been erased so that our overs/unders appear. You can now see how the overs fall in the same direction if you look across the horizontal and vertical, and of course pass alternately (over and then under) along the diagonal.

Next, The Fancy Knot Border...

If you're enjoying these tutorials, you need to get a copy of my book Creating Celtic Knotwork: A Fresh Approach to Traditional Design, Published by Dover Publications, the book has much more information than these online tutorials have, more explanations, examples, exercises to work through... become a Celtic art master!

All tutorials copyright Cari Buziak, 1995-current