In My Happy Place

This week I needed to get a way for a day.  I decided to return to the stacks at the University of California, Berkeley’s Anthropology library.  During my stay as a student, I spent many hours focusing on Art History, with little regard or time for anything else. Now I have the time to explore other disciplines.  I was looking forward to picking up a book I had on hold at Doe Library, Decorative Patterns Of The Ancient World, by Flinders Petrie. On my way, I captured a picture of the infamous Campanile.


Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall

Such a relief to relax and take in the atmosphere without worrying about the next paper or test.  I headed over to the Anthropology library and ventured into the world of prehistoric textiles.  Three books, Women’s Work: The First 20,000 years,  Making Textiles In Pre-Roman And Roman Times, and Textile Production In Pre-Roman Italy,  I was excited to discover because they support my area of interest.

My interest in textile arts began at the age of eight.  Through the guidance of a 4-H leader, I walked the runway in my first sewn dress. I continued to sew through the years and decided to purchase my first weaving loom.  Toting my infant daughter on my hip, I warped my loom for the first time.  From weaving, I moved on to knitting, felting and dyeing yarn.  Throughout the many years of developing my expertise in the textile arts, I didn’t give much thought to the people, places and identities of the individuals that came before me, until now.

On my way across campus to the parking garage, I captured a few more pictures.


Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall


Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall


Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall

Chameleon Chevrons

My eye is attracted to Early Geometric Period ornamentation.  The basic elements of the dot, the straight line and the angled line are the elements of this style.  The angled line motif makes up the zigzag, which is my favorite motif.  The regularity of the chevron/zigzag ornamental design produces a repeat I find appealing.

According to Bernhard Schweitzer,

The Geometric style is without doubt entirely a pottery style, as it has come down to us.  But a series of phenomena suggest that it developed alongside a lost textile art and that this may even have been the origin of Geometric art before 900 BC.”

(Geometric Greek Art, Bernhard Schweitzer, published  as Die geometrische Kunst Griechenlands, 1969.  Translation 1971 by Phaidon Press Limited p. 30)

Wow! A “lost textile art” and a pottery style developing side-by-side may have been the origin of Geometric art before 900 BC.  Perhaps pots were decorated with ornamental motifs adopted from textiles and adapted for the structure of the vessel.

After completing the Zick Zack Scarf designed by Christy Hamm  I’ve been curious about the effects of combining a zigzag/chevron stitch and self-patterning sock yarn. I began with a collection of five different colors labeling them A-E.  I knit a specific number of rows per color.

Chameleon Chevrons #6

After seven repeats of the pattern, I reversed the order of the five colors which changed the assigned row repeat too.

Chameleon Chevrons #4

I eliminated three colors, and knit alternating every two rows.

Chameleon Chevrons #3_1

I’m pleased with the exploration so far.









While checking my Facebook feed today, I noticed Messy Nessy Chic posted some beautiful photographs taken by photographer/artist Christoper Payne   which capture several mills that still operate in the United States.

“In this era of service jobs and office work, most of us have never been inside a factory. Several decades of overseas competition, unequal trade policies, and a flood of cheap imports have decimated American factories. Since 1990, job losses in apparel and textiles have been greater than those in any other type of manufacturing, and today we have little idea where, or how, the shirt on our back is made.

In 2010, I discovered an old yarn mill in Maine that reminded me of the state hospital workshops I had photographed for my book, Asylum. While those places had long been abandoned, this mill was fully operational, a scene from the past miraculously coexisting with the present. I returned to the mill several times, and from conversations with employees, learned of other mills in the Northeast, many still functioning as they had for decades, using vintage equipment now prized for producing the “genuine article”.

In 2013, I toured several mills in the Carolinas, where the majority of textile production eventually migrated from New England, because the labor was cheaper. The mills are vast and mostly automated, and have survived by adapting technologically to the global marketplace. Though they bear little resemblance to their Northern forbearers, they are bound by a common history and are economically dependent on each other. By the time a finished fabric reaches the customer, it has passed through many factories, each a crucial link in the chain of production.

Over the past five years, I have gained access to an industry that continues to thrive, albeit on a much smaller scale, and for the most part, out of public view. With my photographs I aim to show how this iconic symbol of American manufacturing has changed and what its future may hold. I also wish to pay tribute to the undervalued segment of Americans who work in this sector. They are a cross section of young and old, skilled and unskilled, recent immigrants, and veteran employees, some of whom have spent their entire lives in a single factory. Together, they share a quiet pride and dignity, and are proof that manual labor and craftsmanship still have value in today’s economy.”

Here is one of my favorite photographs taken by Christopher Payne.

Made in USA: Textiles
Leavers Lace, West Greenwich, RI

Are You Autotelic?

I found an interesting video by Christopher Jobson, Painting In The Dark: The Struggle For Art In A World Obsessed With Popularity.  Jobson  discusses Vincent Van Gogh’s desire to create everyday, learning for the sake of gaining experience, and seeking the acceptance of only one, his brother Theo.

This is one of my favorite Van Gogh paintings, Lane of Poplars at Sunset.


“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” – Vincent Van Gogh

Check out Christopher Jobson’s video here:


Back To The Drawing Board

After completing pattern drafting for Skirts,  I decided to move forward with Moulage.   With pencil and eraser nearby, I began translating my measurements onto paper, the end result would be a “mold” of my body to assist in garment construction.

First, I needed to draft a Foundation Block front and back in order to draft a custom moulage of my upper torso.  Once completed, I drafted a bodice sloper of my front and back, and mounted the two on oak tag.

Moulage_1 Moulage #2_1The text book used for class, Building Patterns, The Architecture of Women’s Clothing, written by Suzy Ferrer can be a bit overwhelming given the amount of technical information.  A semester of instruction would definitely explain, in detail, the technical aspects of this informative book.

Here is my moulage.  A few minor adjustments to the shoulders and hips were made (as pinned in the photo.)


It was an intense experience, but also rewarding.  I am proud of my accomplishment.




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