Thursday, January 22, 2009

More On Motifs

By Leigh

When I wrote my last post, "Snowball, Star, or Snowflake?," I was tossing around terms to describe the picture I was seeing in the motif I am weaving; something like a Rorschach ink blot test. But in the comments, Patrick and Jane are correct. "Star" and "rose" are specific weaving terms referring to treadling patterns, commonly found in overshot.

Both stars and roses are block designs and in fact, they are threaded the same. The difference is in the treadling.

I've not woven much overshot so I don't have any photos to show you, but I can graph examples ...



Bother are threaded the same: A-B-A-B-A. The star is treadled as-drawn-in (i.e. in the same order as the threading): A-B-A-B-A. To convert it to a rose, the treadling is inverted: B-A-B-A-B.

In doing a little more reading about this, I learned that "star fashion" means to treadle as-drawn-in. "Rose fashion," on the other hand, means that the blocks are exchanged in the treadling order, B instead of A and A instead of B.

Now. Back to my own summer & winter table runner with the motif in question (which is technically neither one of the above). Jane, who has a beautiful antique coverlet with the same motif, did some research and found one resource which labeled it "birds nest." You can see a photo of it in this article.

What is interesting is that in all three examples: Jane's, mine, and the one in the article, the birds nest motifs are identical, but the pine trees are different. That's what makes designs like these so exciting. A lot can be done with treadling alone.

However, the question of the hour remains the same. Does this...

Leigh's S&W table runner on the loom..... look like a bird's nest? I have to admit that I'm still leaning toward that snowflake, but I'll let you decide for yourself. ;)

  • The Weaving Book: Patterns and Ideas, Helene Bress, Charles Scriber's Sons, New York, 1981
  • The Complete Book of Drafting for Handweavers, Madelyn v.d. Hoogt, Unicorn Books and Crafts, Inc., Petaluma, CA, 1993
Posted 22 Jan. 2009 at

Related Posts:
Snowball, Star, or Snowflake?
Summer & Winter Pine Tree Table Runner


Woolly Bits said...

Leigh, I agree - I've never seen such a geometric bird's nest:)) snowflake suits better - just my ho...anyway, it looks nice and it sounds as if you're enjoying the process, which is the main thing?

Sue said...

It looks more like bird's nest to me, with four little fledglings at the corners, getting ready to take flight.

The purist in me says that can't be a snowflake, as it has 8 points rather than 6. That's something that always bugs me.

MiniKat said...

It does look at bit like nest. But there are still similarities to a snowflake. Either way I think it will look fantastic with the pine trees.

Peg in South Carolina said...

To me it looks like neither a bird's nest nor a snowflake. Is it important that it look like one or the other? Are you happy with its appearance and if you are, can't it be simply an interesting geometric design?

Leigh said...

Actually Peg, you're right, it doesn't matter at all. Except that I am going to give this to someone and so want a name for it. "The Pine Tree and _____ Table Runner." I will probably go with bird's nest, because that is a documented name for this old pattern. If it was up to me, I would probably call it a snowflake. Not because it looks like a snow flake, but because I like the sound of "Pine Tree and Snowflake Table Runner."

Jane said...

Leigh, personally, when I first saw my coverlet -- the first name that came to me was Pine Tree and Snowflake. Because it does, still look like a snowflake to me too -- and since I live in a world of pine trees and snowflakes, it was/is so fitting. Seeing that an appraiser called it Bird's Nest -- well I liked that too, because I love birds.

Many of the old coverlets have several names for the exact same designs -- so Pine Tree and Snowflake could be your very own regional name for it. :-) I like it too :-)


Gwen said...

Ah, snowflake, bird's nest - the important thing is that it's beautiful! :)

Jewel said...

I agree with Gwen the impotant thing is that its is beautiful. But I still think snowflake!