Overshot - Foundation Motifs

This Article is part of a series about Overshot Weaving

Overshot is like a Pandora’s Box. You just open it up, just a little bit to try to get the basic understanding and all of a sudden you are waist deep in antique patterns, new vocabulary words and the desire to know EVERYTHING.

We are going to break down the wide world of overshot into smaller bite sized knowledge nuggets. This is so you can build your knowledge of this amazingly in depth and diverse structure and be successful in creating and weaving your own.

Before I go any further, I want to mention that, unless otherwise specified, all descriptions and techniques will be in terms of four harness weaving.

Motif Basics:

Something that I was unaware of, was that overshot is built from the combination of motifs. The motifs are built from blocks.

A block is a group of threads within a pattern shot. So if I were to break down what the blocks were, they would be:

  • BLOCK A: Harnesses 1 + 2
  • BLOCK B: Harnesses 2 + 3
  • BLOCK C: Harnesses 3 + 4
  • BLOCK D: Harnesses 1 + 4

Now you have your blocks.

With just two blocks, you can create tables.

foundation motif: plain weave
Foundation Motif: Plain Weave

Tables are developed from two alternating blocks. An even table is produced when the same numbers of threads are in both of the blocks and produce identical squares. For instance: you are using blocks A and C to alternate. Each block contains four threads (Block A: 1,2,1,2 and Block C: 3,4,3,4). When woven as is, these threads would produce identically sized blocks to form the table.

An uneven table is where the two blocks are comprised of different amounts of threads (Block A: 1,2 and Block C: 3,4,3,4). When woven as is, Block A would produce smaller blocks then Block C.

By using four blocks, you can create crosses. By using four blocks, you are allowing a block to appear when woven, without having to have an identical block right next to it. Weaving blocks A – D and then reversing the pattern will produce a cross.

foundation motif: x
Foundation Motif: X

By joining crosses together, you develop diamonds. Crosses and Diamonds are universal throughout overshot, but they are comprised of exactly the same block arrangement. If you look at an overall diamond pattern, you will be able to see crosses, and vice versa.

foundation motif: diamond
Foundation Motif: Diamond

Think of crosses, diamonds and tables as smaller, foundation motifs. These motifs are used to develop larger, more complicated structures.

These foundation motifs are used in virtually all overshot patterns. Combining the different motifs can lead to visually interesting and unique overshot designs. In future posts, I will discuss how these foundation motifs are used in creating more complex structures.