Overshot misses the mark

I showed the beginnings of my overshot sampler back here. I was having major trouble with my beat and not close to the balanced plain weave ground I wanted.
overshot3Thanks to the wonders of blogland, and more specifically comments from Barbara and Lynnette, I did get closer. The upper row of the motif is definitely rounder – but not round. Use of a temple immediately helped. That’s the object at the left – two pieces of wood slotted together, with sharp pins at each end.  The pins hook into either side of the cloth you are weaving and helps keep it to the width of the warp in the reed.  One benefit is that it helps you to pack the weft down more closely.

I wasn’t able to take advantage of Lynnette‘s suggestion to reduce the warp tension. I dislike blaming my equipment (classic sign of a poor workman), but my little table loom went straight from my standard tension to sloppy and unweavable with just one click of the ratchet.

This overshot was woven on 4 shafts. The warp threads on two adjacent shafts form a block which gives 4 blocks – A= (1,2 or 2,1), B= (2,3 or 3,2), C= (3,4 or 4,3) and D= (4,1 or 1,4). When designing you can repeat blocks, say AABBCCCD, which is 1,2,1,2,3,2,3,4,3,4,3,4,1.

The warp ends highlighted in red are at the change of blocks where you miss out a thread rather than repeating. So the red 2 is the last thread of the A blocks and the first of the B blocks. This has the advantage that the ends alternate on odd and even shafts, which means you get plain weave by lifting 1+3 then 2+4.

The pattern is produced by using twill lifts: 1+2, 2+3, 3+4 and 4+1.

Generally you alternate two shuttles. One shuttle has yarn similar to the warp and produces the plain weave background. The second shuttle weaves the pattern using twill lifts and the yarn is generally a contrasting colour,  soft and compressible so it squeezes down when it goes between warp threads but spreads out to cover the plain weave with the floats. The sequence could be:
1.  lift shafts 1+2, use pattern weft
2.  lift shafts 1+3, use background weft
3.  lift shafts 1+2, use pattern weft
4.  lift shafts 2+4, use background weft
5.  lift shafts 2+3, use pattern weft
6.  lift shafts 1+3, use background weft
7.  lift shafts 3+4, use pattern weft
8.  lift shafts 2+4, use background weft

In this example picks 2, 4, 6 and 8 give the plain weave background so you have a stable cloth. The pattern picks are the decoration and given the repeated blocks and twill lifts you get the pattern weft floating (shooting?) over areas of the cloth. You get areas of colour (the weft float), areas of non-colour (where the weft float is on the underside and the background cloth is showing) and areas of “half-tone” (at the edges of the float which are the adjacent block and the pattern weft actually does plain weave).

The sampler design in the sampler is Ancient Rose Design from Marguerite Porter Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book.

overshot4Right near the end of the warp I returned to the attempt to get a square ground. This time I used a finer weft – 8/2 cotton (Borg’s Bomullsgarn) instead of the 22/2 cottolin. It’s not quite but very nearly there and has the plus of being a slightly different pink which adds visual interest. You can see here I also used a brighter pink weft, although still Bendigo Mills classic 2 ply. Another not-so-successful aspect of this sampler, in that I originally planned to go for neutrals in the colour scheme. I need to change my shopping habits to address that.

What else? Did you notice the threading issue in the earlier photos? (Just noticed the second photo is of the back of the cloth, which is why the problem moves). I missed out 2 threads in the draft – in the pink photo the centre “flower” on the left is lobsided. This was a mistake at the computer during planning, when I was doing a copy and paste and didn’t repeat a block the right number of times. I didn’t notice until I’d done quite a bit of weaving.

overshot5It’s not all bad news.  Here are some variations which I find interesting. From top to bottom:

* Polychrome – two pattern picks (different colours, adjacent lifts eg 1,2 then 2,3) followed by a plain weave pick.

* Feather stitch – 3 picks in a sequence: pattern, plain weave, pattern (same lift as the first) eg 1,2 then plain weave then 1,2.

* Shadow fashion – the pattern weft is fine (I used aurifil 12/2 cotton sewing thread). I used the same cottolin plain weave weft, but in theory should have used something heavier.

I don’t expect to use anything directly from this sampler any time soon. So why was my very next warp also threaded as overshot?

overshot6I am a bellringer – not tunes and such but change ringing. Without going into a lot of detail, bells are rung sounding in a pre-set order or method. I think every bellringing weaver has looked for ways to represent ringing methods in weaving.

I came across an article by Leslie Killeen:  Fiesta Cloth – coloring by numbers in March/April 2007 Handwoven. The fabric is a non-traditional overshot, warp dominant so the half tones don’t show, and a single thread is used for both pattern and plain weave. The cloth in the article looks like “plain hunt”, so I had to give it a try. In the photo is “plain bob minimus”. This is attempt 3. The first was set at 36 epi and too loose. I cut it off and re-sleyed at 48 epi – much better, but I hadn’t mixed up the background colours well. Off that came and I did some judicious swapping. There’s still a way to go, it’s not quite what I want – but I will be coming back to this.

4 Responses to “Overshot misses the mark”


  1. 1 Trapunto December 24, 2008 at 6:53 am

    And my question would be, how many bellringing weavers are there?? It sounds like a very cool hobby. The only other time I heard of it is in the biographical blurb on a book. Elizabeth Wein (one of my favorite novelists) is a change ringer who met her change ringing husband at a change-ringer’s dinner! I was the self-appointed bell ringer at our church as a teen ager. It had a lovely old bell (just one) that nobody bothered to ring any more.

  2. 2 Peg in South Carolina December 24, 2008 at 9:45 am

    It is so easy to misthread overshot……..also crackle……… You have made a great deal of progress and I am eagerly awaiting the next chapter.


  1. 1 Looking for change ringing weavers??? « Fibres of Being Trackback on January 3, 2009 at 12:04 pm
  2. 2 Inspiration strikes on the bus? « Fibres of Being Trackback on February 21, 2011 at 7:04 pm

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