Ask Madelyn: Tabby and Temple for Weaving Overshot

Hi Madelyn!

I want to create placemats using Murphy’s “Diaper” Weave on page 115 of Marguerite Davison’s A Handweaver’s Pattern Book. The instructions say to use tabby, so does this really make it an overshot pattern that is reversible? Would I be best to use the weft yarns for this tabby or the warp yarns to make the pattern stand out?

Also, I have been watching your Weaving Overshot DVD, and I see you use a temple when creating your project. Have you heard of the new clip temples from Leclerc, and, if so, would they be just as good as the wooden temple that goes across your fell?



Hi Joy!

Marguerite Davison’s instructions “Use tabby” have long been a source of perplexity for new weavers. She does explain what it means on page XII, but no reference to that page is given throughout the book, where “Use tabby” appears beside many drafts. If you look at the tie-ups with these drafts, you’ll see two treadles (usually the first two) with just two picks indicated underneath them and beside the two picks, the word “tabby.” These are the two treadles you use to weave a plain-weave header or hem and one of which (alternately one and then the other) you use before every pattern pick; tabby picks and pattern picks always alternate. Showing the treadling draft this way is very efficient: the treadling can then give only the number of times each pattern treadle is used (alternating with tabby) without having to indicate every specific pick. If Davison had had to do that, the book would have been many times longer.

The tabby picks are actually weaving a plain-weave ground cloth. The pattern weft floats on the face and back of the cloth to make pattern. For the pattern weft to show, it is usually two to three times thicker than the tabby weft. The tabby weft is almost always the same yarn as the warp.

Murphy’s “Diaper” Weave as an overshot pattern is reversible in the sense that it has overshot patterning on both sides. The design on the back does not look exactly like the reverse of the face, however.

I haven’t used the LeClerc clip-on temples, so can’t give good information about how well they work. I do recommend using a temple when weaving overshot, and since the cloth is usually fairly densely/firmly woven, the temple needs to be strong to maintain a firm cloth width. Both wooden and metal temples do work well, pushing the selvedges to the width of the cloth in the reed. (A most important requirement of success with using the temple, however, is allowing enough weft slack in the shed. If the temple becomes hard to insert, not enough slack has been allowed, and you need to make sure a larger angle of weft remains in the shed as the beater hits the fell.)


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