Knots: From Irish History to the Nautical Past


Drew Herman demonstrating one of the first stages of tying a Celtic knot. Kayla Desroches/KMXT photos

Kayla Desroches KMXT

For Saint Patrick’s Day, many people paid homage to Ireland with meat, drink, and making merry. Some others tapped into their artistic spirit at the Kodiak Public Library where Drew Herman led a class on how to make Celtic knots.


When we say “Celtic knots”, you might imagine intricate designs etched in stone. And you’d be right. But they’re also literally knots. And where you find those, you’ll usually find sailors.
Drew Herman, who volunteers with the Coast Guard auxiliary, says that his interest in Celtic knots comes from nautical knots. They were useful in the sea-faring past, but also served as a form of entertainment on ships with otherwise limited resources.

“The only materials you had to work with were whatever was left from operating the ship,” Herman says. “So the little pieces of wood, leftover pieces of rope and yarn. They would like to make gifts for their sweethearts back home or things they could trade when they got into port.”
Herman led a Celtic knotting class at the Kodiak Public Library on St. Patrick’s day. There were about ten students, most of them adults, and all of them struggled at first with the looping-in and looping-out of the rope.

One of the two children at the event, who says her name is Sienna, had this to say at the beginning stages.

“It’s kind of confusing.”

But, after an hour of practice…
“It’s easy.”


A young participant, Sienna, during the second half of the Celtic knotting class.

Adult attendee, Cindy Kloster, agrees with her classmate’s conclusion.
“It was kinda complicated at first,” she said. “But once you basically created your first pathway, then it started making sense.”

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