January 2016 Program–Overshooting the Mark

Each year guild members focus on a specific weave structure. Today Jan Gallagher introduced us to overshot.

History indicates that overshot was brought to the United States from Scotland or England. It was a commonly used structure up to the Civil War. For a while overshot was mostly forgotten except in regions of the Appalachian Mountains. Mary Atwell and the Colonial Weaver’s Association are credited for keeping overshot alive in the U.S.

Jan shared the introduction to Madeline VanDer Hooght’s overshot video. Here are some of Madeline’s insights:

  • Weaving can be used as a creative outlet and to releave stress.
  • Sections of overshot may be used for enhancing a fabric.
  • Generally a thick yarn is used for the overshot pattern and a thinner yarn is used for the plain weave.
  • Overshot is woven using two shuttles. One shuttle is for the plain weave background, and the other shuttle is for the heavier floats going over and under the background to form the pattern.
  • Overshot is a block weave. Some blocks appear to be the solid pattern color, some are the background color, and some are half tones.
  • Intricate patterns can be created with just four harnesses.


Even those of us who have previously woven overshot patterns now have a better understanding of this weave structure.

A loom has been warped so members can weave their own piece of ten by ten inch overshot. If interested, please sign up to reserve your turn. The 10/2 pearl cotton is provided by the Guild, and the weft is BYOW. (Bring Your Own Weft) Jan suggested using a fingering weight yarn for the weft and estimated at least eighty yards will be needed. Please tag your completed project with your name.

Jan then shared an entertaining video she made as a tutorial for the project pointing out that the treadle numbers for the pattern are labeled on the front beam. The arrows on the beam indicate the direction the the tabby shot should be thrown.

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Marty Olsen wrapped up the program by inspiring us with three of her overshot projects. Marty’s advise: “Frame your projects!”

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Whether woven on the studio’s loom or at home, we are looking forward to seeing our members’ overshot projects. Perhaps some will be entries in the Virginia Olson competition coming up in May.

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