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October 2020

Phase 1: Exploration

1.1 Surveying Woven Patterns

Objective: Investigate weaving styles & identify candidates with promising attributes for a seaweed-growing application.

process 1.png
process 2.png

The woven pattern that the seaweed will grow from is the most important feature of the structure, and weaving patterns have a huge range of creation processes and resulting attributes. It's important to define which characteristics must be assessed and weighed when considering an underwater ocean application. The following factors and questions help establish the viability of integrating a pattern into a scaled-up solution: 

Fabrication factors:

  • What is the weaving process that creates the pattern?

  • What tools are required? (needle, hook, loom)

  • How would a large scale version be created?

Behavior factors:

  • How flexible is the finished surface?

  • Does it distort when pulled from single or multiple points?

  • Would the pattern unravel if strands were cut or damaged?

Structural factors:

  • Do the strands slip past one another in ways that could cause damage over time?

  • Do strands extend across the entire work or are they recursively looped into one another?

Variability factors:

  • How easily can the density of the weave be altered?

  • Does it allow thick rope-like materials?

  • Is the pattern accessible to variable programming?

These factors can be used to assessed how applicable various weaving methods would be in a seaweed growing application. With this in mind, I made sample pieces in many styles of stranded weaving.

The Weaves

Needle Knitting

  • Fabrication process:

    • tool: two needles

    • single strand, recursive looping

    • many stitches open, work turns during fabrication

  • Many variations of stitches, densities

  • Flexible surface, not in tension

  • Relatively high material use

  • Potentially not suited for in larger-size fabrication

  • Risk of unraveling, "running"

Knit Lace Square.jpg


  • Fabrication process:

    • tool: single crochet hook

    • single strand, recursive looping

    • hook engages small number of open stitches

  • Many variations of stitches, densities

  • Flexible surface, not in tension

  • Relatively high material use

  • Potentially not suited for in larger size fabrication

  • Risk of unraveling, "running"

Crochet Square.jpg
Crochet Bowl.jpg

Sprang Weaving

  • Fabrication process:

    • tool: sprang frame, anchoring needle

    • single strand: twisting warp threads

    • work is suspended in place inside frame, anchoring rods

  • Fewer variations of patterns, densities

  • Stretchy surface, does not hold shape without forces pulling

  • Relatively low material use

  • Stretchiness would make large size work difficult to maneuver

  • Risk of unraveling, twists in tension

Bobbin Lace

  • Fabrication process:

    • tool: 2 bobbins for each strand, pins, pillow

    • multiple strands, twisted & exchanged

    • work is pinned onto flat surface, stationary

  • Low weave variation, but highly variable patterning

  • Flexible surface, no stretch along strand line axes

  • Relatively low material use

  • Fabrication process scales upward 

  • Low risk of unraveling

Sprang Sample.jpg
IMG_3846 copy.jpg

Initial Findings

  • Styles where the work is attached to a specialized tool and maneuvered (knitting, crochet) are difficult to envision being made in large-scale materials. Flag-pole-sized knitting needles are not a realistic option .

  • Works which can begin to unravel if loops slip or single strands are cut (knitting, crochet, sprang) have higher potential to create large pollution/debris problems if damage occurs.

  • Works with more stretch/lower tension (knitting, crochet, sprang) will be more difficult to maneuver in marine environments. Also, stretch leads to rubbing, rubbing leads to fraying.


Bobbin lace immediately stands out as a candidate pattern:

  • Fabrication process scales upward easily: pins into pillow, nails into board, stakes into ground

  • Woven work does not move during creation process

  • Multiple bobbins each contain a manageable amount of rope (as opposed to 1 extremely long strand holding all rope length)

  • Woven into near tension, strands extend across entire work preventing distortion in that direction, reducing motion

  • Over-under pattern holds each strand firmly in weave, reducing risk of slipping out and polluting environment

  • Highly programmable:

    • pinning follows visual blueprint, open to parametric design​

    • bobbins move freely: can easily interweave other patterns, knots, features into same work with same strands


each strand passes:

Bobbin weave.png








Closing Notes:

The basic bobbin lace stitch is easy-to-create and has strong structural qualities, which warrants deeper explorations. As I have only recently begun weaving, creating these models is as much a test of if I can produce it correctly as it is an indication  that the pattern is a potential candidate. I'd like to investigate this weave in a way that isn't reliant on my slow and self-conscious manual weaving skills. By taking advantage of the fact that this pattern simply repeats over a square grid, it's possible to digitally visualize and manipulate similar grid mesh configurations, allowing for much a much faster and wider exploration of possible weaving shapes than I would be able to achieve with only traditional tools. 

Section 1.2 will focus on turning this grid configuration into a generative design tool.

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