Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Textile Narratives & Conversions: Proceedings of the 10th Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, October 11–14, Toronto, Ontario


Copyright 2006 by the author.


My investigation began with the analysis of the stitched geometrical patterns used in the Japanese textile tradition called sashiko. This technique requires only needle, thread and countless hours of patient stitching. I became intrigued with the hemp leaf pattern called asa-noha. The crossing white stitches on a field of deep indigo blue, conjured up memories of starry constellations and the pinpoint, accurate mapping of laser surgery. When I look from one star to another, the stars seem to twinkle. I believe this illusion happens because the stars share rays. Looking at one star’s center invariably decomposes its neighbors.

Upon close scrutiny I discovered that the hemp leaf lattice is built from overlays of three sets of parallel solid lines with three sets of parallel broken lines. When I combined the just the solid parallel lines, the Japanese fish scale pattern emerged.

When I stacked the three sets of broken parallel lines, the baby block pattern popped out.

In playing with the hemp leaf lattice, I discovered it contained a wealth of shapes and small motifs within its wire frame. Even coloring only black and white produced many pleasing variations. Eventually I chose to highlight the six-pointed star shape. When I aligned the stars in ranks and files, long hexagons and small diamonds made up the leftover, negative space.