On January 10-12, 2020 I taught an overshot workshop at Yadkin Valley Fiber Center to a delightful group of students. They came prepared with looms warped and questions ready. We had a full two and a half days of weaving, talking, learning and sharing. Students started with the same threading pattern and worked their way through various treadling variations. Each made their own decisions regarding color and thickness of the weft. Along the way we talked about the theory of overshot, how to design overshot and what life must have been like for the weavers who came before us.
For new or non-weavers, overshot is type of weave structure that creates blocks of pattern when some threads skip, or shoot, over the cloth. The structure was used in making coverlets. Old time weavers used cotton (or linen) thread crossed with wool thread. The resulting cloth was lovely and warm. We used cotton thread and some wool thread in class.
One student had mistakenly used warp twice as thick as what was called for so her samples were extra large.
It is always fun to see how each student’s work is unique, even though all start with the same instructions. That is what makes handwoven creations works of art. You can see it in the photos below.
We didn’t just weave traditional overshot. We added some other structures that are possible to weave on an overshot threading, like the flame point variation shown in the above pictures. We also wove honeycomb.
The students labeled their work as they went. When they went home, they cut the sampler off the loom and washed it. Everything changes with washing. The warp and weft threads relax and settle around each other. Some cloth that looks two dimensional on the loom becomes more three dimensional after it is washed and dried.
I’m proud of the work everyone put into the class. Everybody helped each other, sharing tips, supplies and extra yarn. Thanks to Leslie at the fiber center for wonderful hospitality in her new surroundings. It was a great place to meet. I came home from the class inspired by my students and ready to try some new ideas of my own.
This has been a busy year as I have had plenty of opportunities to teach. I still love the joy of creating new work, though, and have been able to get in some productive time at the loom. November 9th and 10th was the weekend of the annual Artisans Studio Tour here in Charlottesville. This year’s tour was well attended. Below you can see what is left from my weekend sales. Prices range from $75 to $200 depending on the piece.
I’ll continue to weave and prepare for teaching this month, but I’ll also take some time with family and friends to give thanks for my many blessings.
On the weekend of Sept. 21 and 22 I’ll teach a workshop for Central Virginia Fiberarts Guild in Albemarle County. We’ll explore huck lace, spot huck and many variations of the huck structure. We’ll also try some non-huck patterns you can weave using the same threading. It’s always fun to weave with others. Weavers spend a lot of time with just themselves and their looms. When we weave with a group, we bounce ideas off of each other, coming up with lots of “what-if” ideas. It is always inspiring. Here is a sampling of just a few weaves we’ll explore.
This weekend, June 28-30, I taught at the MAFA 2019 Conference at Millersville University in Millersville, Pennsylvania. MAFA is the MidAtlantic Fiber Association and they put on a conference every other year. This year I taught Weaving 101 to motivated group of 8 students. They started on Friday morning with some yarn and a warping board, and by Sunday noon they had woven off a sampler of plain weave, twill weave and even double weave–a pretty advanced concept. It was wonderful to observe their camaraderie as they shared with each other. There were often exclamations of excitement as they understood a new technique or bit of information.
I tell my students that learning to weave isn’t just one skill, but a series of skills they have to master. Each one takes patience to learn. They start with learning to measure the warp on a warping board. Next they have to move the warp to the loom. At the loom, they have to wind the warp on the back beam. Then they have to thread the warp, and put the warp ends through what’s called a reed. Next they tie the warp on to the cloth beam in front of the loom. Finally they tie up the treadles and begin to weave. The whole process of getting the loom ready to weave can take as long as actually weaving the fabric. My students this weekend finished the setting up of the loom in record time so they were able to explore plenty of weave structures in their sample. On top of being quick they had great attitudes, making it a pleasurable class. Having Leslie Fesperman, of Yadkin Valley Fiber Center, as my assistant was a great help.
There are now some new weavers in the world. They have the knowledge and enthusiasm to go far. I hope at the next MAFA conference I’ll see them with projects they have woven at home with their newfound skills.
I have been playing around lately with double weave-pick up. I taught a class in West Virginia on double-weave and had enough of my sampler warp left to practice the technique. It’s pretty time consuming and you have to really pay attention, much more so than when weaving scarves. I found the meditative quality pleasant.
In double weave the loom is set up so that two layers of cloth are woven simultaneously, one above the other. If you want, you can form an image by hand-manipulating how the two layers of cloth interact. This is called double weave pick-up. When you weave double weave pick-up, you use a stick to pick up some threads from the bottom layer and weave them into the top layer, then pick up other threads to weave top layer threads into the bottom layer. Below you can see part of my process and a couple of finished pieces.
I used 10/2 cotton threaded at 32 ends per inch (16 ends per inch in each layer). The colors were deep purple and red-orange. When the colors are next to each other they read as orange and blue. As a side note, I wove some of these pieces while UVA was winning the NCAA basketball championship. Their colors are orange and blue–go ‘Hoo’s!
Picking the purple threads
Weaving orange while selected purple threads are raised
Picking up the orange threads
Selected orange threads stay above while half of the purple threads are raised.
I love using my handwoven items every day. There is something satisfying about picking up an item I have made and putting it to good use. Each piece I weave is designed with the end use in mind so having something functional when I finish weaving is important.
Unfortunately, when I give or sell towels to people, the towels are more likely to become small table runners, or to sit in a drawer. People tell me that the towels are just too pretty to use on dishes or hands. When I give a towel to another weaver, though, they are likely to use that sucker.
This year at Convergence 2018 in Reno, I participated in the towel exchange. We were given guidelines for final dimensions and type of fibers to use. Each participant wove 5 towels and brought the towels with them. In return, we went home with 5 new handwoven towels, each from a different weaver. Along with the towels, people shared instructions for how to reproduce their towel. What fun it was to weave and share towels.
Over 50 people participated in the popular event. I was excited by the towels I received and I got some good ideas for weaving more towels. There are plans for doing a similar exchange in two years at the next Convergence and I hope to join in again.
This July I will be teaching a workshop in Reno, NV as part of Handweavers Guild of America’s Convergence 2018. The workshop explores the possibilities of a weave structure known as overshot, one of my favorite types of weaving. In preparation, I went back through old photos to find examples of my own overshot exploration. As I reviewed my previous overshot pieces I reflected on why I find this weave so satisfying, and a few observations came to mind.
Overshot has some strong pattern lines. As you weave it you see the pattern unfold one shuttle-throw at a time. Lines build upon each other to develop curves.
This table runner was woven in the traditional Rattlesnake Trail pattern.
Overshot also has strong ties to history. Many coverlets seen in early American reproductions are made using overshot patterns. Weaving overshot ties me to the many weavers who came before me.
Detail of a traditional Mary Anne Ostrander overshot runner.
Overshot also allows for a lot of color interaction. Sometimes the weft makes long floats over the warp so you see areas of pattern weft color. Sometimes you see more of the background plain weave where thin warp and thin plain weave weft intersect and form blocks. In other areas you see the pattern weft going in between warp and the two elements blend to get a completely different color.
Overshot treadled in a style called “on opposites”.
In the workshop I teach we try out different ways of combining pattern and color to get cloth that doesn’t look like traditional overshot.
Italian style treadling of an overshot threading.
Flame treadling of an overshot threading.
If I had to choose only one type of weave to concentrate on for the rest of my weaving career, it could easily be overshot. I could play with it for a long time without getting bored.
It has been a busy summer of traveling, but the past few weeks have seen me settled down in the studio and getting ready for the fall Charlottesville Artisans Studio Tour. A pile of scarves waits on my dining room table ready to be washed. Another pile sits on the living room couch waiting for fringe to be twisted. More scarves are on the loom in the studio.
I have been throwing the shuttle daily, watching the thread unwind from the shuttle and dreaming up more designs. I wish my feet and hands could keep up with the ideas that stream into my head. There are always a bunch of “what ifs”. What if I tried these colors together? What if I tried treadling this pattern? What if I added stripes? That’s the joy of weaving–there never seems to be a lack of new ideas to try.
I will post pictures of the finished scarves soon, but in the meantime, I can’t resist taking pictures while they’re still on the loom. Here are a few offerings.
This fall has been plenty busy. After a summer of travel, I’m finding great inspiration around home. The soft colors of sunrise or the brilliant leaves against a spectacular sunset are hard to capture in fabric but I’m giving it my best. I have found new yarn to help me and that’s a good thing since the 22nd annual Artisans Studio Tour is just around the corner. Below are pictured some of this year’s scarves. To view the complete collection, go to my current work page.
Silver Stream Scarf
Pastel in Stars Scarf
Earth and Sky With Turquoise Scarf
Turquoise Diamonds Scarf
I will be in Mud Dauber Pottery again this year from 10-5 on November 12th and 13th. I hope to see you there.
This weekend is the big weekend for a talented group of artisan craftsmen who will be showing and selling their work in and around Charlottesville, Virginia. I’m fortunate to be part of this group, Artisans Studio Tour. I will be showing my work at Mud Dauber Pottery.
This year I’ll have a new style of scarves, using hand-dyed thread from Kathrin Weber of Blazing Shuttles. Her color work is beautiful and I love the feel of the material she uses. I’ll still have some of my traditional scarves, too. Our central Virginia fall colors are still gorgeous so there will be beauty both inside and outside the local studios.
This is my big chance each year to meet customers face-to-face and talk about my process and what inspires me. I look forward to it each year and this year is no different. We’ll talk over food and cups of hot cider. I’ll have my demo loom there and people can throw the shuttle a few times if they want.
We have all been working hard to make the tour a success. Here’s hoping we have plenty of visitors and get to reconnect with people who love fine craft.