As I continue stitching madly, I’ve also been researching meaning and symbols in stitches. The only solid example is the Incan quipu, which used a variety of colored knotted strings to record dates, statistics, accounts, and possibly even stories. Think about it - information held in the knots! There’s some part of me that considers this a Holy Grail: to be able to tell stories using an alphabet of knots and threads.
There are some textile patterns with possible meanings. In traditional (pre-industrial revolution) textiles, there were different patterns in different geological areas. As Wikipedia tells us “Ukrainian embroidery has many variations from region to region, or even village to village” and shows a map of where various patterns are found:
Back in the times when most people never traveled more than 50 miles from the place they were born, we had far more regional differences. Even today, a person in the southern US has a different accent than a New Endlander (but these differences are fading quickly). And the differing sewing patterns are almost completely gone in everyday life.
Some patterns never had the meaning we ascribe to them. Such as Irish sweaters:
The great Irish playwright J M Synge (1871-1909), who based much of his work on the lives of fishing communities on the Aran Islands, may have been the unwitting inspiration for this particular myth, which is still perpetrated by some sectors of the Irish knitwear industry.
It probably originates from a moving scene in Synge's play Riders of the Sea, where a woman recognises her drowned brother by the four dropped stitches in his knitted woollen socks.
Years after its first performance, inventive marketeers effectively twisted this tragic scene into a moving myth, claiming that bodies of unfortunate fishermen were often identified by the 'clan stitches' of their Irish sweaters. The notion that these stitches had been handed down from generation to generation was added for good measure. Not only is there no evidence to support the idea that our ancestors knitted special 'clan stitches', the Aran sweaters' tradition is actually relatively new.
Likewise, the idea that runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad used quilt patterns to find their way is probably not …well, it’s certainly not verifiable.
But stitches can tell us a great deal. In her playTrifles, Susan Glaspell shows two women examining the stitching of a third woman, and, as https://brainly.com/question/10014334 explains “stitching holds things together, and this uneven stitching suggests that mrs. wright's situation is coming apart. stitching is domestic work, and this uneven stitching suggests that mrs. wright is failing in her role as a homemaker. stitching can be difficult and complicated, and this uneven stitching suggests that mrs. wright is too unsteady to carry out a murder?” You can read this wonderful, short (one-act) play here: http://www.one-act-plays.com/dramas/trifles.html
And then there are appileras:
Arpilleras (are-pea-air-uhs, burlap in Spanish) are patchwork pictures made in Chile during Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship. Constructed from burlap and scraps of cloth, they depict scenes of hardship and violence that many women experienced during the dictatorship. Women literally sewed the stories.
There’s also an old Russian myth that embroiders were the worst witches - they could capture your soul in the loops of their stitches!