Warp weighted looms were used by the ancient Greeks. This explorable explanation demonstrates how weavers in ancient times calculated complex algorithmic pattern manipulation which shows that digital thinking has a longer and richer history than we are often led to believe.
Use the right and left arrows or drag to explore this small collection of weaving patterns, ancient and modern - can you figure them all out?
The default checkerboard pattern being woven above is plain weave (also known as tabby) and is the simplest, and strongest weave.
Can you click on the light brown squares to change the warp and weft colours to create these horizontal stripes? Click on the ? button if you want to see the answer.
This is a example of how an interference between colour and structure create visual patterns in weaving. Can you work out how to change the colour order to make the stripes go in the other direction like this?
Gingham is a type of plaid pattern made with plain weave which is used all around the world in different cultures.
Can you decypher this mystery and replicate it for yourself?
Let's move beyond plain weaving and try changing the weave 'draft pattern' in the middle. The pattern on the right shows a development of plain weave known as basket weave.
Can you work out how it's made?
Interestingly, basket weave often creates diagonal patterns when you alternate the colour threads, can you replicate the one on the right?
Twill is a fabric which stretches and is used in a lot of clothes, such as denim. This one is known as 2/2 twill as each thread in each direction crosses two others.
Can you figure out the draft pattern used to create it? There are a few options depending on how you offset the pattern, so your one might not match exactly but still be correct.
This famous pattern using 22 twill is called Houndstooth (also pepita, dogstooth, or pied-de-poule) and is often used in fashion.
If you made the gingham pattern you'll find it quite easy!
Now we come to the kinds of patterns popular with the ancient Greek weavers. These are highly advanced in that they are all combinations of plain weave stripes, and all use just two alternating colours in their warp and weft direction. With these contraints it's incredible the complex patterns you can create.
This is tricky, but uses a 8x8 draft pattern and is the same as used on the photo of the weaving on the warp weighted loom at the start.
These draft patterns can be difficult to understand, but they can be recombined logically in different ways to make new patterns.
If you look closely, this one is built from sections of the the previous pattern ordered differently.
Most of our understanding of the fabric of the ancient world comes to us via images on pottery. This pattern is similar to that seen in the background of the Bull-Leaping Fresco in Knossos in Crete.
By attempting to replicate the pattern here, you are undertaking a kind of experimental archeology connecting you with the weavers of antiquity.
This is a 12x12 draft version of the previous pattern.
Although smaller patterns can be easier to explore, if we scale up the draft - the underlying logic becomes clearer. We transition between areas of odd and even plain weave to control which direction the stripes (we saw in the first two examples) are going in.
The ancient Greeks were particularly fond of meanders in their fabric. It can be seen in the border in the famous image of Penelope in front of her warp weighted loom and so it has a special place in our PENELOPE project.
This one is created from a 6x6 draft pattern.
A larger version of the meander. As meanders take up the full width of the draft pattern we can start to see how these patterns are scaled, and some of the underlying mathematics at play.
Often scaling involves a complete change of how a pattern is made, it's not always possible to be this neat.
Finally, this is a large double meander using a 12x12 draft pattern. The solution is surprisingly easy to remember, try starting with the previous one and altering its size and shape.