There are several different kinds of Celtic designs and tatting has focused on the interwoven type.  There is also a significant tradition of spirals, usually in groups of three that has not been investigated by tatters very much.

Spiral Celtic designs are not as familiar to most people as the interwoven style is, but I am very intrigued with them. 

Click pictures for a larger image.


The Book of Kells c 800 AD also contains the more familiar interweaving that has been the focus of tatted interpretations.  This first example also shows a great deal of spiral work

This page is the first page of the Gospel of Matthew from the Lindisfarne Gospels c. 700 AD and has the interwoven motifs more prevalent, including animal figures whose bodies and limbs are extended to be able to interweave them to the extent that it is difficult to tell what sort of animal they are.

So, what has tatting taken away from all of this?

Tatting Methods Used to Express Celtic Interweaving Elements

LaRae Mikuleky

The first attempts to reproduce an interwoven Celtic design consisted of making separate pieces that could be fitted together and then bound by a final row tying the interwoven parts together.  The do not produce the look of classic Celtic interweaving, but they are truly interwoven and require no special tools.

Click here to go to the pattern and see the method of constructing the interweaving of her bookmark.

Ruth Perry

Writing as Rozella F. Linden (a nom de plum honoring her beloved grandmother), Ruth expanded Celtic Tatting by working long chains and weaving Celtic knots with them, usually using a paper clip as the weaving tool that could fit into small spaces as the weaving progressed.  

She also designed other patterns in the multiple parts method used by LaRae.  A third invention of hers was to make a long chain and pull it into a spiral, arranging the crossings of the chain so that a second straight chain could interweave with the coiled chain. 

Ruth has a blog dedicated to Celtic Tatting.

Martha Ess

Another view of Celtic tatting uses multiple shuttles to interweave as the work progresses, thereby escaping the necessity to get chains through spaces smaller than a shuttle can manage.  An excellent example is Martha's famous Shamrock Doily which requires 4 shuttles, all actively working, to complete

Yvonne Reypa

An amazing form of Celtic tatting was invented by German tatter Yvonne Reypa.   She calls it CYK and it involves interweaving large rings as they are made.  This method requires a tool that can slip through the small openings of the rings as the weaving progresses.  Here is an English translation of her method.

This is my attempt, which I accomplished by using rods from Tinkertoys as a thin celtic tatting shuttle.  The slits in the ends worked quite nicely, like a netting shuttle.

Which brings me to my contribution to the enduring puzzle of making Celtic interwoven patterns in Tatting:  a better tool and my achievement of a type of Celtic interweaving that has always been my objective.   

After working on the CYK pattern, I drew up a design for a Celtic tatting shuttle that my husband was able to produce on a plastic cutting machine he has which uses a 20 watt laser.  The shuttles are .25 inches wide, .125 inches thick and 3.5 inches long. With these lovely little tools I was able to work the Celtic weaving I had always seen in my mind (or out of it!)

My thought had been to make a continuous woven circle.  The process was to find a way to not end a round where it began until all the weaving was done.  It turns out that having one less attachment point than the number I need to go around 2, 3, or 4 times was the solution.

This first simple attempt worked!  There are 7 attachment points and the weaving chain goes around twice when I skip 1 picot.  Ta Da!!!  Skip-1-Celtic.pdf

This woven ring skips 2 picots between joining to a picot on the base ring and the weaving goes around 3 times.  There were also some surprises in how the layers build up. Skip-2-Celtic.pdf

The ring below is what I saw in my head when I started trying to figure out how to make it happen.  This one skips 3 picots and goes around 4 times.  Success!!! (after multiple attempts and doggedly drawing diagrams on the computer.) I was thrilled. The colors of the thread graciously display all 4 rounds, which you can follow by color. The colors display that there are indeed 3 picots skipped between the sites where the same round touches down on the central ring.  Skip-3-Celtic.pdf

Now to move on to more interesting formations that include these forms that I understand better now. 

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Replies to This Discussion

wonderful post! so exciting to find a discussion on Celtic tatting. This is a style I love but have not been able to find information or patterns. Much enjoyed and very informative. thank you

When I was first introduced to Celtic tatting, I just about with crazy with it.  I really love it a lot.  I purchased a book which I thought would have Celtic designs in it..well, it did in a way, but actually they were just diagrams of Celtic designs which you can do with what you want.  Some day I will have to experiment with it.  I have no pictures of the book handy, but when I have some time, I will try to remember to take one.

This is the very fist Celtic piece that I had tatted.

I keep looking for more Celtic type tatting pieces myself.  Sure wish there were more out there.  

Anita A said:

This is a wonderful post with all the links!  Thank you!  

I love the look of Celtic tatting and have completed a  few projects that include it.  Would love seeing more Celtic patterns online!

I love your little slim shuttles.  I would think needle tatting would lend itself perhaps more to Celtic than the traditional shuttles as well.

Yuma Tatter

I now have the directions for the Skip-3-Celtic, but it sure looks confusing to me..!  I'll try it first before I say anymore.  I love the looks of it though.

I couldn't get the extensions to work for each of the about:  The 'Here' for the Yvonne Reypa's version of the English translation for her method, or for Martha's Shamrock doily.   I'm sure I can probably do some searching for these, but just to let you know there not working.  Thanks for the info..

Thank you for those lovely clear diagrams for the Skip 1, 2, & 3. I must have a go!!!

Let me know if anything is not clear.  I can't guarantee that my brain works the same as other people's.

I Know my brain works differently!!!!!!!!  ---------- But isn't that half the fun of  it?!!!!!!!!

I am lucky - I can work from both written instructions, and/or diagrams - usually!!

Wow!  I love it!  I cannot wait to try it!

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