Ancient Doodling

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.

The Aphrodite of Capua
The Aphrodite of Capua, in the National Museum of Naples

Pictured below is my desire to doodle with yarn creating the ancient zigzag pattern.

Chevron Zigzag Knitting_1
Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall

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.

Chevron Zigzag Knitting #2_1
Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall

The above pattern is Shadow 47 using Method III, Multi-color Reversal using a combination of five different colors.

Chevron Zigzag Knitting #4_1_1
Photo credit: Mary Lou Fall

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.




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.








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