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  • Sara Nordling

Principles of Design: Pattern

Weaving of red and white vertical stripes with a horizontal blue stripe containing stars

Pattern is a very easy one for weavers! Patterns come naturally in much of the weaving process they are, simply put, a repeated, decorative design.

Oh, as always, the trick is how to use pattern to create something stunning! Patterns can lie low or be bold and exciting. They may create a background mood or be the star players in your work. They can be large or small. Several patterns can be happening in one work or there can be just one.

Deflected double weave, side A

Deflected double weave, side B

Deflected double weave is a fun way to play with pattern as you can get a different pattern on each side.

Pattern here, is not “follow the pattern,” as in knitting or weaving instructions, although they may create pattern as well. These are two different uses of the word.

Graphic of outline of a short sleeved shirt

The fabric for this shirt may very well have a pattern. However, if you view it from a distance, the pattern may not be seen. Be aware of the scale you are using if you want pattern to be a dominant principle.

Pattern may not be easy if you only have a rigid heddle loom. You will have to employ a pick up or inlay technique to create your patterns. For anyone with four or more shafts you may enjoy exploring the many books on weaving patterns available. You may also enjoy making your own patterns.

Graphic of square with 6 horizontal and 6 vertical lines, grouped in twos.

A pattern can also be created by combine stripes of color or

textures, related or unrelated to the weave structure being used.

Fancy twill weave, light weft, dark warp with 3 horizontal stripes where weft matches warp.

Here an overall pattern on the scarf is broken up with the use of weft stripes that match the warp yarns.

If you are new to making patterns you may want to begin with changing or adapting an existing pattern. Can you make it larger? Smaller? What if you mirror it instead of just repeating it? What if you added a variation of the pattern on either edge to create a border? What happens if you change the hues or values? What does that do to the look of the pattern?

Graphic of horizontal rectangle containing 3 "flowers" each made of 4 ovals.

How could you weave the pattern on this graphic?

One way would be to use large overshot patterns such as a blooming leaf.

Graphic of horizontal rectangle with a gray to black gradient.

A gradient may well be a nice use of value or even color. However, it does not show pattern.

Challenge: Create a table runner that uses the principle of pattern and also the element of color. Try incorporating at least 2 different (but possibly related) patterns in your work. Other elements or principles may be used as well but the primary focus should be pattern and color.

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