Overshot runners

Overshot is a style of weaving that is traditionally used for bed covers and other items that need to have some insulating properties. It uses two weft threads, one that weaves a pattern, often a bit thicker than the other yarns, and another that is simply woven plain, alternating with the pattern weft to lock it in place as the pattern weft will often be woven in the same shed for two or more picks (rows).

To be honest, a bit like the Huck, I’d never really felt inspired by the designs that I was seeing. However, I wanted to do some table runners and the overshot pattern seemed a good fit for what I wanted to do, plus I do want to try lots of different weaving styles.

Planning

Planning a weaving project always takes some time. While you can get preplanned projects from a magazine or book I prefer to do my own thing and apart from my very first project I always have. I don’t time how long the planning and calculations take because some of this is always a bit of research, thinking, laying with ideas.

I knew I was going to do this in cottons and I already had rolls of 8/2 M. Brassard cotton in cream, and pale blue and several part rolls of 5/2 Ashford cottons in red, blue and green. As it’s ideal for the pattern weft to be a bit fatter than the plain weft my idea was to use the 5/2 as the pattern and the 8/2 for the warp and plain weft. This has worked splendidly with the 5/2 providing good coverage once wet finished.

My target width for the finished runners was around 35 cm and length 130 cm. The design that I chose (Strickler page 162, Tied Overshot) had 232 warp ends in it which sett at 20epi would be a bit too narrow so I added another 36 ends each side in plain weave to a total of 272 warp ends.

There was 1530 m on the roll of Brassard 8/2 cotton so with a bit of math I worked out that if I shortened my intended length to 125cm and including 60 cm waste I should be able to get four runners from the single roll of cotton. There will be a small amount left over from the 5.6 m warp.

Once I had the warp on the loom and did a short test, where I found a couple of threading errors I realised that I really should weave a sample first and wet finish it to see how it behaved before embarking on weaving the real ones (I know, such discipline). This was really worthwhile as I did a section in the cottons but also some in some wool I had on hand. As I expected the wool shrunk somewhat on wet finishing and made the section narrower and the whole piece was a lot denser than it was as woven. The cotton weft sections had good coverage.

I also trialled filling in the plain weave sides with two small shuttles of just the background plain weft so that the overshot section stood out more as having the Ashford cotton main colour. At first I really struggled to make the joins between the edges and centre sections neat but then I realised that I had to essentially make the joins by linking the wefts at the back of the piece. In the end while I was happy with how this looked it was too time consuming to work with four shuttles and from the back of the weaving so I decided to not do this in the runners.

Three runners

The three runners are as follows

Blue runner: background is M. brassard 8/2 cotton in cream (warp) and pale blue. Pattern weft is Ashford 5/2 mercerised cotton in a royal blue (which appears to be discontinued). Length is 1 m plus fringes.

Green runner: background is M. brassard 8/2 cotton in cream (warp) and ‘lime’. Pattern weft is Ashford 5/2 cotton in ‘Cedar Green’. Length is 1.21 m plus 4cm fringes.

Pink runner: background is M. brassard 8/2 cotton in cream (warp) and ‘Stone’. Pattern weft is Ashford 5/2 cotton in ‘Orchid’. Length is 1.21 m plus 5cm fringes.

Postscript: unfortunately just as I had finished trimming the fringes with my rotary cutter and put it back on the shelf above my work desk it fell out, landing on the green runner and slicing a couple of warp and weft threads. I checked it at the time but the cuts didn’t really show until it was washed. I’ve darned it but this one is staying with me. Luckily I love green.