Saturday, February 14, 2009

In defense of overshot

I have been meaning for some time to clarify my statements regarding overshot. I said that I don't like it; what I should have said is that I don't love it. Mostly I don't love weaving it (owing to the whole two shuttle thing) but, truth be told, it's not my fave even when someone else does the leg work. Even so, I've seen things done in overshot that absolutely take my breath away and I've woven a thing or two myself that I enjoyed making and enjoyed giving away even more.

My complaints about overshot are thus:

1) Two shuttles are slow! I'm one of those weird people who prefer planning a project and dressing a loom to actually weaving. Once I've gotten the first couple of inches done, I'm anxious to get the warp woven off and start on a new one. Two shuttles make that take longer.

2) Two shuttles are fiddly! If I've got to grit my teeth and weave off a long warp, I want to spend as much of that time zoning out in weaving zen as possible. Two shuttles require concentration and interrupt my zen.

3) Overshot is ... well, kinda boring. I dunno, maybe I'm just being obstinate, but around here overshot and tartan are the staples of the weaving diet and I'm not crazy about either one. My favourite overshot fabrics have something unusual about them, usually something to do with colour or fibre.

In light of these, I like weaving overshot best when:

1) I'm doing something unusual with colour or fibre. I like to weave it using chenille for the pattern weft. I like to put the colour in the tabby and use a white pattern thread. Better yet, I like to put a lot of colour in the warp and tabby weft.

2) I'm weaving it as a present for someone. If I have to focus on the project at hand rather than zen out, I don't mind as much when I can think about the person I'm weaving for, what the reaction will be when it's received... makes all the extra effort and attention to detail worth it.

3) I'm weaving with with someone. My guild has a 90" loom that requires two weavers to operate. We warp it with blankets or tablecloths and then take turn helping one another weave. If you've got to stay present while weaving, it's a lot more fun when there's someone else there to gab with while you work.

Here are a couple of things that fall into these categories that I'm really pleased with:

This is a coverlet that I wove a few years ago for my mother in law's 75th birthday. My MIL is allergic to wool, so I wanted the coverlet to be 100% cotton. You can't tell from the pic, but that's a cotton chenille pattern weft. It's sooooo soft!

It was woven in one piece on the aforementioned 90" loom. My dear ol' mum (over there on the right- hi, Ma!) helped me weave the first part while she was visiting and another woman in the guild helped me finish it. It's Double Chariot Wheel, taken straight from Weaving a Traditional Coverlet by Helen N. Jarvis. We threaded the full 90" at 20 epi and I had a hand in threading every one of the 1800 threads in the warp - did I mention I like dressing looms? Mmm, threading! Pretty sure we put on enough warp for 10 or 11 coverlets that time around.

This is the twin of a blanket that I wove for my dad and his wife. It's a name draft that spells out "Dave and Elizabeth". I'm pretty sure the little blue blocks are Dave and the big red blocks are Elizabeth, which I suppose makes the green stripes between them And. I used Fiberwork's name draft feature to work the initial design and then fiddled with the incidentals between blocks and the border pattern until I liked 'em. That's is a rather pretty border on it, isn't it?

The warp and tabby are 2 ply wool from Briggs & Little; the pattern weft is a heavy 4 ply wool that I got from South Landing. Man, I wish I could get more of that stuff - I used it in some really lovely huck blankets I did, too. Num!

It may just be possible to tell from this close up that I used different shades of blue and red in the warp and weft in this one just to create a greater depth of colour in the background. I love the interplay of colour and the way the white pattern floats on top. I'm really glad I put enough warp on for two of these and made one for myself, too! It lives on my couch and matches absolutely nothing else in the room. I couldn't care less because it makes me happy. :)

So there you are! See? I'm not anti-overshot!

And now I am off to enjoy the incredibly delicious chicken penne alfredo that Ron makes me every Valentine's Day because he knows it is my absolute favourite thing. Omg, it is TO DIE FOR. Yum!


Life Looms Large said...

Well, we have an anti-overshot bias in common. I've never woven anything overshot, because I've barely ever seen anything overshot that I even like.

That coverlet you made your mom is fabulous though....and the idea of a 90" 2 person loom is pretty cool!

I do have a small overshot project coming up, and maybe I'll become a convert. Time will tell!!


PS: Jealous of the cooking skill involved in your Valentine's dinner. Jim is cooking tonight - very unusual - but it's a frozen pizza. Hmmmmm.

(I'm fine with that as dinner - we're going out to dinner Monday night - but I'm not sure it really counts as cooking!)

jackie said...

I actually like weaving overshot and don't mind the two shuttle thing. Maybe that is because I weave overshot once every 6 years or so. You are correct that overshot is not a good production product. And I also know what you mean about weaving zen and again, overshot doesn't fit the mold at all. Most of my production things are plain weave or simple twills. It helps that my one loom that fits in my house right now is a direct tie up and anything that is more complex then pw or simple twills is too much for me to hold in my mind.