Archive for the 'Overshot' Category

Looking for change ringing weavers???

In a comment Trapunto wrote “And my question would be, how many bellringing weavers are there??”.

Well, there’s me. There’s Anthea in the Handweavers and Spinners Guild of NSW. The guild meets in the church hall behind St Paul’s Burwood (a suburb of Sydney), which has bells. Anthea heard the bells one day and went up the tower to see what it was all about.

There’s been an article in Handwoven which I came upon by chance – “Oranges & Lemons Say the Bells of St. Clement’s”, Pauline Drake, September/October 2000, pp. 32-34. The author used the simplest change ringing method (or pattern), plain hunt, to select stripe colours. However on checking I find she learnt about ringing from a book.

There’s a draft on with the note “I have a cousin who is an enthusiastic change-ringer. This is one of several patterns I’ve worked on as a gift for her and her “happy ringers.””

I’ve also found a project exhibited at Liverpool Cathedral UK in 2008 – an artist worked with ringers and “weaving technicians” to produce banners depicting bellringing methods.

So I haven’t discovered a lot, although I’m still convinced about similarities:

  • An attraction to patterns and permutations.
  • A love of process, not instant results.
  • A somewhat unusual interest – although something most people know a bit about (or think they do).
  • A wealth of jargon with very specific meanings, some of which is used rather differently in “mainstream” language.
  • A lot of underlying theory that can enrich the experience, but you don’t have to know to get along.
  • A certain level of dexterity required and some physical demands.
  • With both I try for an “alert rhythm” – physically repetitive motions that benefit from constant fine-tuning, plus following a pattern where your mind can drift a bit but with the risk  of undesirable results.

The major difference I can think of is that weaving is solitary while change bellringing is done in teams (one per bell – or one person per two bells with handbells).

bristol_bookmarkMy overshot experiment is finished. I first described it here. I was working on my four shaft table loom, so had four blocks possible.

Without getting too distracted by ringing theory, on the left is the beginning of Bristol Surprise Major (diagram created in the online method database). The bells start by ringing once in turn, highest note to lowest. Then we ring again in a different order according to set patterns or methods. The path of the treble (bell with highest note) is shown in red. The path of the 4th bell of the eight is shown in blue – and the same path is traced in the bookmark I wove.  It’s repeated because I wanted some width and also to experiment with creating a visual break with limited blocks (any pattern of the black weft is hidden by the black warp).

bristol_summerandwinterIt’s more a novelty thing – I don’t have a lot of use currently for such heavy fabric (cottolin sett at 48 epi). I’m now interested in the possibilities of summer and winter – especially given my big loom has 24 shafts to play with. Initial experiments in my weaving software (Fiberworks PCW) gives this possibility for the beginning of the path of the 4th bell in bristol major.

bristol_sandw_trebleIf I juggle with three shuttles this could be possible – the path of the treble in red as well as the 4ths place bell in blue.

Maybe fun for teatowels . Step two is lots of sampling and playing in fiberworks – for a start this is the back view and I’ll probably have to flip things around to avoid getting a mirror image. Plus all the treadling options to explore – Leigh has some wonderful posts on Summer and Winter, including this one.

Step one is finishing the undulating twill  currently on the loom – more on that another day.

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.

Doubleweave wrapup and onward to overshot

8s_double_wornThank you for the comment Trapunto – I can’t provide the Aztec princess but I did get some nice remarks at work this week. Although a bit short for a scarf, it worked well as a sort of shawl collar. Peg, it’s 8 shafts – this is one of the second year class weaving projects. Our first year class was too small to continue, so two of us accelerated into second year. It was an effort for our weaving teacher Liz, since she’s been coming early each week to continue first year theory with us. Tatiana and I have both fallen behind on the practical work, but my hopes are high to do some catching up over the summer break.

overshot1First cab off the rank – overshot. The warp and tabby weft are cottolin. The pattern weft is two strands of bendigo woollen mill’s two ply classic wool. The threading is Ancient Rose Design from Marguerite Porter Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book. My original intention was to change pace and try using neutrals, but on checking my shelf it became apparent that my shopping is rather skewed and slightly dusty pink is the closest I had.

I’m having some trouble with getting the beat right. The warp is set at 18 ends per inch, so I’m aiming at just over 16 picks per inch while under tension on the loom. This is only considering the pink tabby weft, which is intended to produce a nice balanced plain weave. It ignores the claret wool pattern weft, which is meant to smoosh down in between. Trying to beat harder didn’t actually do the job, and the little table loom and my shoulders and neck started complaining. Plan B is to put the weft in at a steeper angle – the greater length allows the weft to move up and down around the warp threads more and so pack down better. Sorry, I can’t give proper attribution for this idea – I’ve been reading lots about overshot in the past week and can’t remember the source. However, it is helping. I’ve found it slower since I don’t have a lot of space in front of the beater and have to fiddle about. I only need to do it for the tabby – the pattern weft started looking a bit loose and messy on the floats.

Extra ideas welcome – and to those who aren’t familiar with overshot my apologies. I’ll try to give a bit of an explanation on how it works when the sample’s done and I can review what I’ve learnt.


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May 2021

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