Ring of Fancy Bath Mats
It’s easy to feel that your first weaving projects are too simple, or that you’ll never be able to weave complicated patterns and complex cloth of your dreams. Then, one day, you realize that what used to be difficult is now second nature. You can use your previous experiences to turn your dream cloth into reality. Inspiration is a wonderful thing, but inspiration combined with years of experience is even better. You will love the inspiration behind Marty Benson’s Ring of Fancy Bath Mats from Handwoven May/June 2018.
Designer Marty Benson’s Statement
As a new weaver, I hopped from project to workshop to study group to conference, creating piles of less-than-wonderful cloth with no loss of enthusiasm. As I did so, I unwittingly built a collection of component parts—weaving techniques and knowledge.
This project began with an overshot draft written in the 1800s by an unknown weaver. I came across it in the collection of the University of Arkansas Museum while researching for the sequel to Ozark Coverlets. Labeled “Ring of Fancy,” its interlocking circles looked like they might make an interesting design motif for bath-related textiles. Several months later, I saw some bath mats woven with hefty cotton yarns in lovely colors. Remembering the Ring of Fancy circles, I considered and then discarded the idea of weaving bath mats in conventional overshot because the weft floats would be too long to be practical.
A week or so later, still thinking about the mats, a ghost from my weaving past popped up and settled into place. I visualized using a doubleweave structure based on the overshot draft that would create those circles in sturdy plain weave (see Resources). Inspired idea? Maybe, but it springs from years of studying how to translate old weaving drafts, lots of experimentation with that particular doubleweave technique, and a few hours browsing in a well-stocked yarn store.
Inspiration is essential, but you need weaving experience and knowledge to implement ideas.
Moore, Jennifer. Doubleweave. Loveland, Colorado: Interweave, 2010, pp. 86–91.
Project at a Glance
PROJECT TYPE: 4-shaft.
STRUCTURE: Overshot-patterned doubleweave.
EQUIPMENT: 4-shaft loom, 31″ weaving width; 8-dent reed; 1 boat shuttle; 1 stick shuttle; 1 bobbin.
YARNS: 8/16 cotton (420 yd/lb; Yarn Barn of Kansas); Sugar ’n Cream 4-ply worsted-weight cotton (800 yd/lb; Lily).
Featured Image: Marty Benson found her initial inspiration for this bath mat in an old overshot draft discovered in the archives of the University of Arkansas Museum.