# Using Tabby

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Dear Madelyn,

I have just recently purchased a loom and various ancillary items.

Having enjoyed a wonderful weekend course at the beginning of June, I am now in the process of setting up for my first project. I managed to obtain a copy of Marguerite P. Davison’s A Handweaver's Pattern Book and found one (or more) patterns that I want to do, and this is where my problem arises! Some of the patterns say 'use tabby' but only shot it at the top of the drawdown instructions. Does this mean that I just do the two rows between each pattern repeat of after every pass of the shuttle?

—Georgina

Hi Georgina!

Your question came to me at the same time as another related question. A weaver who is using Anne Dixon'sThe Handweaver's Pattern Directory asked about how to interpret numbers instead of symbols in overshot treadling columns (5, 4, 6, etc.).

First, overshot is characterized by a plain-weave cloth with a pattern weft that floats over groups of warp threads to make the blocks of pattern. To weave the plain-weave cloth, a finer weft (usually the same yarn as the warp) alternates with the pattern weft throughout; this weft is called the "tabby" weft. To build a "block" of pattern, several pattern picks are made in the same shed, sometimes as many as ten (or more), always alternating with a tabby pick. Overshot is therefore woven using the following sequence: tabby (odd shafts), pattern (floating over the selected block), tabby (even shafts), pattern (floating over the selected block). The "selected" pattern block can change at any time (after any number of pattern picks as designated by the pattern), but the tabby picks must always alternate, first one tabby, then the other, between pattern picks throughout the whole cloth.

So, for Marguerite Davison's and Anne Dixon's drafts, the direction Use Tabby means to do just that: weave tabby, pattern, other tabby, pattern. The numbers in the treadling column indicate how many pattern picks in a row to make using that particular pattern treadle (always after a tabby pick). As I remember, Marguerite Davison only says to "Use Tabby," not what Use Tabby actually means. She presumed we would all know!

—Madelyn