Current Project: Stepped Spiral

Christine here.  What I’m working on now is a stepped spiral with 12 braids at once.  I started it at the recent guild meeting, and it is coming along nicely…. although I’m running out of the orchid pink in the center and may have to scale back the design a bit.

The center is continuous and tapered, then one butted row is attached.  (I tried to continue the center braid as one of the spokes, but it threw off the symmetry of the design, so I had to butt the last row of the center.)  In keeping with my new fascination with using light shading to dark colors, the idea is to have the spokes radiating outward in step-wise fashion, transitioning to darker colors as they spiral.  You can see my darker pinks that I plan to use off to the left in the photo below.  The eggplant will continue throughout to define each radiating spoke, but I’m running out of that color also, so I might have to cross my fingers and dye some fabric to match.


I sketched this design after seeing the Man in the Maze image (see below) which apparently is a popular Native American motif in the Southwest.  I was trying to figure out how to make the Man in the Maze in braids, and came up with the above design instead.  I love spirals, and I love corners, so this design was a logical outgrowth.


Man in the Maze

Then I googled various permutations of step-wise spiral, jagged spiral, etc (to see if this exact design was found anywhere else… and I came across the Nazi Secret Service Symbol,  the “Black Sun.”  This image below is from a sales website:  The Nazi symbol apparently also sometimes had a swastika symbol in the center.  I found one website that described the black sun symbol as a combination of a sun image with its rays, and lightning in the jagged portion.  So the symbol is supposed to have the power of both the sun and lightning.


I was rather horrified when I read this.  Clearly Nazi imagery is not what I had in mind.  I was relieved when I later found that the symbol pre-dated the Nazis.  They may have used it, but it was not originally theirs.  It has been found in Iron Age brooches from graves in the Alsace Lorraine areas of France and Germany, around 400 to 600 AD.  The brooches were used to decorate women’s clothing.  Here are some examples:

Aren’t these dear?  If you google “Zierscheiben” (the German word for these iron brooches) you’ll come up with some lovely ancient designs for women’s jewelry.

So, with some relief, I am continuing with my stepped spiral braids, which clearly are related to ancient women’s jewelry and not to the Nazi Secret Service!  And, I guess nothing that we come up with is completely new — although I think whatever copyright existed in the 400’s has probably expired by now.

6 thoughts on “Current Project: Stepped Spiral

  1. Peggyann here. Christine, I do believe you eat, sleep and breathe braids 24/7. I don’t know where you come up with the ideas, time and efforts. But I’m so glad you do. You keep me motivated, and guilty when I haven’t braided for a day or two. Thank you. It will keep you even busier, when we all ask you for directions. Keep braiding.

    • Dear Pat, Each of the spokes has a T-start. So attaching was easy: I just laced through one of the T’s loops against the center and the other side’s loop against the braid next to it. Thanks for asking. Christine

  2. Thank you for the wonderful researched information and inspiring us to push the limits and remember our roots.

    These designs are also known as a 7 path labyrinths-an ancient design found all over the world. They are wonderful to walk for peace, reflection, spiritual and physical health, etc. I love that the path leads you to the center and out again with no dead ends.

    What a challenge this must be to make! You are right Peggyann that the braiding world will want directions. Thank you Christine.

  3. I absolutely love the look of your newest project. It looks like the beginnings of a brand new class. Good luck with it.

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