Fibre Crafts ZA                                                                                                                                                August 2011
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Colonial Overshot
Greig Kothe


The indomitable Greig Kothe gives us an insight into Colonial Overshot with a view to creating our own designs.
It is a popular and well know weave structure with well known motif designs such as Honeysuckle, Snails trails, Cat’s Paw, Young lover’s knot and Maple leaf. Overshot means the weft shoots either over or under the warp.
The threading sequence 1,2,3,4 is continuously repeated, notice that harness 4 always follows harness 1.
In South Africa, convention has it that shaft 1 is in front nearest the weaver and shaft 4 at the back. The shafts are threaded 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.
 To achieve the threading for the four blocks on the four harnesses, first take the first two harnesses as the first block. The two harnesses may be repeatedly woven for as long as you would like.
The warp will float over all the threads in the block, just remember that if a float is too long the cloth becomes impractical.
                                                                               The second block is made up of harnesses 2 and 3.
Note that the first and second blocks have harness 2 in common.

It follows that the third and fourth block will be made up of harnesses 3 & 4 and 4 & 1.

Blocks 1, 2, 3 and 4 all have common adjacent harnesses.




                            A threading of four blocks on four harnesses.
                            When designing make sure that blocks with common threads are adjacent.
                            For example, you can go from block 4 to either blocks 3 or 1 but not from block 4 to block 2. 


The Treadling for Overshot is a 2/2 Twill. That is 1-2, 2-3, 3-4, 4-1. Overshot is woven with a thick pattern thread alternating with a thinner tabby thread. The pattern block may be repeated as many times as you like to build up a pleasing block. So it will be pattern thread, tabby a, pattern thread, tabby b. Lift 1 and 3 for tabby a and 2 and 4 for tabby b.



In the draw down you can see the weft travels over the entire block. The adjacent block will be affected by the common thread so a dotted pattern appears. The block, which has no common threads, will only show the tabby threads. When turning the pattern, turn on a tabby shed otherwise the second half will have a slightly different appearance. So, on the turn weave pattern, tabby b pattern, tabby a, turn with tabby b, pattern tabby a etc. OR pattern, tabby a, pattern, tabby b, turn with tabby a, pattern tabby b pattern etc.



Monks belt, so called because a monks’ status in the monastery was indicated by the pattern woven on the belt is different from the other Overshots motifs as it is woven in 2 blocks on opposites. A block will be either 1 and 2, or 3 and 4. The pattern is created by the varying size of the blocks.

It is not difficult to design your own overshot pattern. A name draft is just one of the ways to do so. The above tablecloth was made by a group of weavers, each wove a square and many of them designed their own name drafts.

The following pictures are just a few samples of Overshot patterns.