The Ultimate Overshot Gamps

Gamps are a wonderful way to explore a pattern or color palette. They are the perfect avenue for exploring the many "what-ifs" that come with various structures from overshot to crackle to classic twill. In her post, weaver Gail Ross tells the story of the ultimate overshot gamp. —Christina

  Gail's Gamp
  Gail's gamp, in all its glory, during 
its stint as a shower curtain. 

Have you ever wanted to weave something—but had no idea what that something should be? This happened to me a couple years ago while living in a former home (the significance of which will soon be explained). While staring at my unwarped loom, I spied an old book on the shelf that I had never explored: The Joy of Hand Weaving by Osma Gallinger Tod. 

As I had also just joined the Weaving Today overshot study group, I turned to the chapter on “Practical Overshot Patterns” and was floored by the possibilities. Why not avoid the difficulty of choosing just one pattern by trying them all? “All” meant 169 different design effects made possible by weaving the overshot pattern sampler on page 214, each pattern separated by a narrow band of twill.

This is not a project for the weak of heart! For warp, I searched my shelves and found a mill-end yarn I could use for experimentation before weaving the real project. The task of meticulous threading and treadling over many hours was fondly referred to in our house as “Alzheimer’s prevention.” Necessity being the mother of invention, I created flashcards with each threading plan written on them. I wove my original sampler exactly as drawn in with the idea that my real project would be based on one or more favorite patterns that popped up. Even better, why not shuffle the flashcards and create some surprise? In theory, there should be 91 different arrangements of the rows of patterns—a lot of different looks all using the same threading. This could become a complete bucket list in itself.

After completing the entire set of thirteen successive patterns woven in thirteen different ways, I had very little warp left. Not one to waste even an experimental warp, I decided to weave off the remainder without tabby. In so doing, I found I had created a darker coordinating piece of fabric. 

Another decision loomed: What to do with two intricately detailed pieces of fabric, one measuring nearly two yards long? Was I still in design mode or was this the completed project? And if so, what was it?

Enter house number one in Michigan: Our master bath had a stall shower and a boudoir bench just begging for my coordinated “masterpieces”—rather a humble setting for such a magnum opus but definitely a unique opportunity. I painstakingly applied fusible interfacing to each piece in order to provide stability and weight, improved the selvedges with extra wide double-fold bias tape, sewed up the hem, and reinforced the top for bound buttonholes to accommodate the specially purchased shower curtain hooks. Then, just before the buttonholes were made, I learned we were relocating out of town. Project on hold!

Enter house number two in Ohio: Oh dear, no stall shower! OK, how about a wall-hanging? But that requires a wall space large enough and in a location where intricate dark green patterns won’t clash with surrounding colors and patterns. In house number two this only occurs in our two sons’ bathroom—clearly a non-starter.

Well, there is always the dining table—could an extra-wide runner have a life here—at least between meals? Hanging of my creation on one of the sixteen full-length windows in my sunroom was even more effective. It looks great, but I would have fifteen more panels to weave, and my life bucket was overflowing, and then there was the question of how to find yarn to match my mill-end warp. In the meantime, I’ve now learned of yet another upcoming relocation. Project on hold again!

Hmm . . . what will my project become in house number three? I don’t know, but in the meantime, I intend to explore those other old books on the shelf and look forward to new ideas and adventures.

—Gail Ross



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