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  • Sara Nordling

Principles of Design: Movement

Double weave with small squares on surface illustrating movement.

The principle of movement is concerned with the sense of flow or movement that your eye has as it travels over the work. Even a design of made up of squares can have movement. It will just depend on how the squares are used, their size and placement.

Graphic rectangle with gradient background and a "hill" of small rectangles across surface.

This design shows movement in the colors behind the blue rectangles

and with the placement of the rectangles.

Movement is more of a concern for some woven items than others. With a wall hanging you will want a viewer’s eyes to travel over the work, not missing some areas or getting stuck in any spot. It may be more optional with apparel items, table runners, book covers or tote bags. On these items movement could be fun and add interest to the cloth.

Movement is even less a concern for a tablecloth where a background pattern is nice but the idea of your eye traveling over the work is not important. In fact, on a tablecloth movement might actually interfere. When the cloth is in use and dishes are placed on the surface the movement would be disrupted and the effect may be lost or even a distraction. I am not saying that it is an impossible task to make a tablecloth that is well design and shows movement, or that it shouldn’t be attempted, just that in general movement is not needed.

Double weave with one painted warp and one black one that create diagonal lines.

Double weave with one painted warp and one black warp. The weave looks out of focus but is not,

that illusion is caused by the way the layers interchange at the edges of the lines.

Here are a few examples of movement in weaving:

Undulating twills or even regular twills

Snails Trails Overshot

Many networked twills

A design of squares that progress is size or change locations on the surface

Warp (or weft) stripes that change in width across the surface


Warp or weft gradient changes

Shadow weaves and many color and weave effects

Many deflected double weaves

Graphic of rectangle with parallel wavy lines.

This graphic shows movement, the lines could be created with an undulating or network twill.

What would not be considered movement?

An overall repeat of small motifs

Plain weave or one block of satin with no color changes in warp or weft

Many crepe weaves

Blocks or patterns that are symmetrical in all quadrants

Graphic of square design, small squares in corners, large square in center

This design is not a bad design. It is, however, not a good example of movement.

Graphic of green rectangle

No movement in this design. Actually not much of a design at all.

Challenge: Design a pillow cover (square or rectangle) using the principle of movement and using value as the main element.

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