Wednesday, March 12, 2014

March TotM - About Miniature Overshot

I was curious, so I did a little research, and here's what I came up with regarding miniature overshot.  First, an internet search turned up the names of two weavers from the earlier half of last century who made designs in miniature overshot.  Josephine Estes worked on miniaturizing large overshot drafts in the 1930s.  Similarly Bertha Gray Hayes in the 1940s created overshot designs with fewer threads than in traditional patterns.

Then I went to my personal library.  Many of the designs in A Handweaver's Pattern Book by Marguerite Porter Davison, chapters 13, 15, 17 and maybe others are examples of these smaller designs.  In her book Weaving Overshot: Redesigning the Tradition, Donna Sullivan shows examples of miniatures by both Estes and Hayes.  In her section on altering scale, she refers to many patterns already reproduced in miniature, and then describes the process of reducing the size of a pattern by removing pairs of threads.  Carol Strickler, in A Weaver's Book of 8-Shaft Patterns: From the Friends of Handwoven , gives a rule of thumb for miniaturizing overshot.  Whether reduced from a larger design or made "from scratch" by using shorter blocks, the miniature draft ends up as Barrett describes as point and progressing twill threading.  A final clue comes from Estes, where she says a design has been miniaturized when it has been reduced to the point where it cannot re reduced further without losing the character of its pattern form.

A miniature overshot, then, is one that is sometimes reduced from a larger design, and whose scale is appropriate for items smaller than a traditional coverlet or items meant to be viewed up close.  Examples of uses would include runners and mats, smaller upholstery, pillows, scarves, purses and yes, even a border on a kitchen towel.

Belonging to a weaving guild has many benefits, any one of which can make it worthwhile to join one.  Access to a great library is one of these perks.  I am fortunate to belong to a guild with a fabulous library including many out of print titles.  I looked up Estes and Hayes.  We have in our library the Complete Book of Bertha Hayes' Patterns: 75 Drafts and Design Effects, as well as Minature Patterns for Hand Weaving Parts I and II by Estes.  I also found (at the suggestion of weaving friend Anna) this gem by Strickler & Barbara Taggart called Weaving in Miniature , in which the concept of miniaturization is taken to the extreme for the purpose of making textiles appropriate in scale for dollhouse furnishings.

The drafts shown here are one example by Bertha G. Hayes of a miniaturization she named "Gallinger Gem".  The first image is the draft of a larger pattern, the second one the miniature version of it.  There is a more recent publication of Hayes' overshot patterns by Norma Smayda, Weaving Designs By Bertha Gray Hayes: Miniature Overshot Patterns


  1. You don't only take things part way. You have to know as much as you can about anything you explore. That's what makes you such an interesting weaver.

    1. Weaving is just so interesting, and I want to understand. And it's fun to read about so many interesting like minded weavers in the past like Estes and Hayes above - and I'm so thankful to know wonderful knowledgeable weavers among us now like you, Anna!