Kelpie's Tears, Elizabethan Jacket & Briodag designs by Alice & Jade Starmore

The Kelpie's Tears

It amuses me to write stories sometimes, and on these occasions I don the persona of my alter-ego, Celia Matheson. Celia is an obvious anagram; Matheson is my maiden name. This psychological ploy allows me to keep fact and fancy under two separate hats, and literally keeps the kelpies from the k2togs.

I wrote this story twenty years ago as an accompanying tale for my Hebridean Kelpie yarn colour. Rather than recount a traditional tale, I decided to place the legendary kelpie in a contemporary setting and let the story flow from that point. This approach was often employed at cèilidhs in Lewis where a storyteller would take the grain of a legend and then spin the yarn in new directions, often including playful allusions to real people and places that the audience might guess at. If the story was deemed a success then it would travel around and sometimes gather legs and feet in subsequent retelling.

I thought it would be fun to narrate this tale, as it encapsulates the spirit of dùthchas. This revisitation immediately inspired a design, and since I don’t possess the spellbinding musical charms of Roddy Ceos, I imagined what protection I could produce to save myself from certain doom. I decided that a quickly knitted little shawl would shield my eyes from the kelpie’s glare and yet allow me to see my way to safety; it would be a practical item to wear as I passed the loch. I would decorate it with a trio of kelpie’s tears, which would hopefully serve as potent amulets.

The shawl is very quick to knit and you can easily make it larger or smaller by simply working more or less rows, as is shown in the pattern instructions. It is shown here in the large size in Driftwood, and the small size in Kelpie. Below you can find a video showing the Kelpie's Tears in motion so that you can see the drape of the design.

The Kelpie's Tears is a free design and video class. The downloadable pattern, video class and Kelpie's Tears story can be found by following the links below:

Kelpie's Tears, Staran & Briodag designs by Alice Starmore