Learning to Look
I recently hosted a workshop at my house for a wonderful group of weavers. We all gathered to learn at the feet of weaving guru and incredibly generous teacher Ute Bargmann. She had set up a couple of darling little (these are deceptively cute while being amazingly sturdy, useful and well engineered) Structo looms to demonstrate how to weave overshot “as-drawn-in” without using a treadling draft at all. “What? Impossible” You say. We all thought so too, but with a firm hand Ute guided us through the process. In a nutshell this involves
- absorbing the fact that overshot is a twill derivative
- starting at the right selvedge
- observing which pair of shafts gives you the first block of threads that are down
- weaving the number of threads in this block minus one
- trying the next pair in the twill circle (if the first block down is 3,4 then you know that the next block will either be a 2,3 or a 1,4) and you will see which block follows the twill direction
- weaving that next block with the number of threads you count in the block minus one.
- do this until you come to a block with a odd number of threads which tells you that it is a turning block – weave an even number of picks
- then change direction in the twill circle. Voila!!
So simple as Ute explained it, right? Of course, after everyone left I tried it on my own. I couldn’t quite see how to start so I improvised and looked at the heddles instead of the warp threads. I observed that the first block was threaded on 1,2 and had 2 threads, so I raised shafts 1,2 and wove one pick. I used this method for the first few blocks until I could observe the diagonal in the woven cloth. It didn’t look like Ute’s. Hmmm? Can you see the problem? Mine is the sample on the loom . . .
I was using the threaded heddles as my guide for what to raise when you are supposed to look at the lowered warp threads to determine which is the next block. Ute came over to give me a follow-up lesson laughed when she saw my sample. “Oh my god! you have simulated weaving overshot on a counterbalance loom!” Anyway, with a firm, guiding voice she walked me through it again. These are Ute’s little “end-of-warp” shuttles from The Woolery. Aren’t they wonderful.
And I wove my sample. I am going to practice some more and try to beat square (hard to do while trying to keep my wits about me and my correct tabby order – it is critical to set your tabby up with 1,3 being woven from the right and 2,4 being woven from the left.) But boy, it is really empowering to master this. Ute said she was taught this way, and it has been critical during demonstrations where people are talking and asking questions and one needs to be able to find one’s place by reading the cloth.
Thanks Ute for the power to look!!