Blue Ribbon

This document accompanied my contribution to the February 2000 sample exchange of TWIST (Tablet Weavers International Studies and Techniques).

This document is provided as is without any express or implied warranties. While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained, the author assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies. Website mirroring is permitted by express prior arrangement. Permission will only be granted if the document is posted in its entirety and the content and format of the document remain completely unaltered by the mirroring site. The definitive version of this document resides at

Double-Faced Designs on a 7-Block Grid with Radial Symmetry

© 2000 Carolyn Priest-Dorman

The last time I wove some motifs from the 13th century Scottish seal tag described in Audrey Henshall's "Five Tablet Woven Seal Tags," I was struck by some design properties they all shared. The motifs are 28 tablets wide; they were all designed in blocks of four tablets in a turning sequence of seven sets of two. This can be represented in shorthand fashion on a square grid consisting of seven rows of seven squares each. Further, all the Scottish motifs shared radial symmetry, and all the lines were orthogonal rather than the more typical diagonal lines of tablet woven square motifs (e.g., the Snartemo V motifs). The orthogonal lines show up very neatly due to the warp being entirely threaded in one direction rather than alternating from tablet to tablet.

Recently, I was looking for something in Brigitta Schmedding's Mittelalterliche Textilien in Kirchen und Klöstern der Schweiz when I rediscovered several other textile examples of square motifs with radial symmetry and orthogonal lines. There is something about these motifs that looks extremely ancient to me! With the TWIST sample exchange in mind, I began doodling to test the limitations of the design. Since the sample exchange was supposed to be for relatively narrow bands, I kept my designs to the proportions of the original and used a 49-square grid. Soon I think I will have to try reproducing some of those elaborate Swiss designs from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; it will take a grid of at least 15x15 blocks.

On a seven-by-seven grid using radial symmetry, it is fairly hard to avoid repeating the Scottish designs or designing out-and-out swastikas, but I did my best. They're far too basic to be "original," of course, although I wasn't looking at any other sources while I designed them. Here are the four designs I liked the best; I call them the Whirlpool, the Cross-and-Boss, the Running T, and the Well [in the image, they're in reverse order].

 the Well, the Running T, the Cross-and-
Boss, and the Whirlpool

The motifs need to be squared carefully (my samples are not all carefully squared, due to unexpected time constraints). Also, my experience weaving these types of motifs shows that using smaller yarns minimizes the effect of the feathery weftwise color changes. They're especially breathtaking in Size A sewing silk, which makes them pretty much identical in size to the Scottish piece of my original inspiration..


Henshall, Audrey. "Five Tablet-Woven Seal-Tags." Archaeological Journal 121 (1964), pp. 154-62.

Schmedding, Brigitta. Mittelalterliche Textilien in Kirchen und Klöstern der Schweiz. Bern: Schriftern der Abegg-Stiftung, 1978.

This page was created on 4 July 2000 and last updated on 4 July 2000.

Search this site | Back to Þóra's Textile Resources
No soliciting!