In an effort to satisfy my curiosity about geometric ornamentation, I decided to go on a self-directed journey of research. What I’ve uncovered so far, has expanded my worldview on the importance of weaving, and the significant role women played in the development of an economy. It’s no secret how I feel about the use of geometric ornamentation on textiles, especially the zigzag or chevron. According to Bernhard Schweitzer, “Geometric patterns have, in fact, a large number of different sources. They began at about the end of the Early Stone Age.” Schweitzer also mentions, “It is not until the development of leather-work, weaving, and pottery in the Neolithic Age that the necessary preconditions are created for real geometric ornament to appear in certain places. Sometimes, it is the result simply of a playful instinct to “doodle” aroused by the shape of the object.”
Who knew weaving played such an important role in history? Perhaps I’ve taken my talent and passion for knitting, weaving and sewing for granted? I didn’t even know about the Spinning Aphrodite until I read, Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years, written by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. Barber references original research by Elmer G. Suhr. The Spinning Aphrodite written by Suhr, explains the symbolical significance of the spinning process, its association with the goddess and why the connection between the two has not been recognized in the past.
Pictured below is my desire to doodle with yarn creating the ancient zigzag pattern.
Chameleon Chevron Scarf knit with various sock weight self-stripping yarn in random order alternating colors every 2 to 4 rows, measures 7″ wide by 70″ long. I decided to knit a second scarf to be used as a lining, so there will be no wrong or right side. The two pieces were stitched together using my sewing machine.
Here are some sample swatches of the zigzag/chevron geometric motif in mosaic knitting. I especially like mosaic knitting with slip stitches because the knitter works one color at a time. Also, the back of the knitting remains neat and tidy. The shadow patterns shown below are from, Mosaic Knitting by Barbara G. Walker. Shadow mosaic designs look the same upside down and right side up, and will “shadow” each other.
The above pattern is Shadow 47 using Method III, Multi-color Reversal using a combination of five different colors.
Shadow 47 Method I – Color Reversal, the top two bands form zigzag/chevrons. The bottom two bands are Method II – Pattern Reversal changes the whole design of the shadow mosaic from zigzag/chevrons to diamonds. In Mosaic Knitting, a photograph is shown for Method I – Color Reversal, but Method II – Pattern Reversal is not shown creating a totally different looking design of surprise.
I look forward to uncovering more discoveries in the textile arts on my self-directed research into the history of “women’s work,” bringing a modern day twist using ancient patterns.
2 thoughts on “Ancient Doodling”
No, I haven’t read the book by Ulrich. I’ll definitely look for it on my next visit to Berkeley. Suhr’s book is a treasure, which I’m sure you will find it fascinating. Mary Lou
I’ve loved reading about the history of textiles, too–I need to do more of it. I tend to jump around–I read Barber, then a book about textiles in the American Civil War. I should probably focus more! I will definitely go find the Suhr article. Have you read “The Age of Homespun” by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich?