Thursday, April 2, 2015

Hip to Be Square

Borrowing from the song by the great Huey Lewis and the News, it is "Hip to Be Square". Weaving to square is of primary concern and ever my goal.

As a weaver, accomplishing a perfectly squared design is one of my joys and agonies. Some structures take extra care to come out just the way they look on graph paper. Perfect squaring requires an ideal combination of structure, yarn size, sett and beat. A good example is plain old straight-draw twill in which a diagonal line is easy to see. That diagonal line must lie at a perfect 45˚ angle in the finished cloth. Using the same yarn for both warp and weft, it can be assumed shrinkage will be even in both width and length. While the cloth is on the loom and under tension, the even or uneven balance can be tough to judge. It is necessary to check that 45˚ angle with released tension.

Overshot is a structure that demands careful planning in order to square up. But if you think of it in terms of the underlying ground cloth it becomes easier to understand. Traditional Overshot requires use of a Tabby weft. Pattern weft is superimposed on top of a plain weave structure, known as the ground cloth. The goal is to create a perfectly balanced plain weave underlayment to carry the pattern wefts along and hold them in place. If you choose an appropriate pattern weft of approximately twice the grist of the warp and tabby yarn and if you weave a balanced plain weave, Overshot will be a piece of cake and a joy to weave.

A nationally well-known speaker (yes, you would know who this person is) at a recent meeting of my local guild mentioned that if an overshot block doesn’t weave to square one should simply throw an extra pattern shot or two. Pardon me for disagreeing, but I cannot take that view. Overshot is to be “Tromp as Writ” for a reason and throwing an extra shot would throw off relative proportions throughout the structure. If the ground cloth is balanced plain weave, unless an inappropriate sized pattern weft is used, the blocks cannot help but weave to square. And if they do not, then a change of sett or beat is in order.

Just my two cents . . .

Next time I'll admit to missing the mark in the "Squared weaving design" department.

Warp On/Weave Off,


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