Name Draft

Marcy Petrini

March, 2018

When it was announced that the theme of the Chimneyville Weavers and Spinners Guild’s 2018 exhibit was going to be “Here Comes the Sun”, I knew that I should try a name draft. Last year we went to Kentucky to see the total eclipse in August; just as the sun returned, someone in the field where we were parked to watch it started the music blasting – Here Comes the Sun! Perfect. 

Shortly after that trip I wove a piece inspired by the eclipse, but the name draft seemed like a must-do. Convergence® writing and weaving samples has put the project on the back burner (the exhibit won’t be till the fall), but I encouraged some guild members to try name drafting with the title, I thought it would be fun to see how many variation we would get. 

What is a name draft? It’s a way to design, traditionally using overshot, probably because we have four blocks, more than with other weaves on four shafts. In the way of review, overshot is a supplementary weft weaving structure based on a straight twill. On four shafts, here are the four blocks: 

               4    4  
       3  3      
  2  2          
Block A Block B   Block C   Block D  


The threading of each block is usually at least two repeats (for example, A is 1, 2, 1, 2), but it can be more depending on the desired length of the “overshot” weft that covers the block.

Traditionally, the warp and ground weft are of the same size and color, generally neutral, and produce tabby, a balanced 50/50 plain weave by treadling 1 & 3 vs. 2 & 4.

To weave a block, we cover it with the pattern weft, which is two to three times thicker than the ground yarn and loftier. Thus, to weave block A, in a sinking shed loom we would lower shafts 1 and 2; in a rising shed loom, we would raise shafts 3 & 4, thereby leaving shafts 1 and 2 to be covered.

Here is a sample of overshot, the four blocks threaded A, B, C, D, C, B, A. The overshot areas are in dark blue, the tabby areas in white, and the half-tone areas, so called, as can be seen below, because there are both blue and white threads mixed together.


There are many, many overshot patterns available, but it is fun to design our own and name draft is an easy way to do it.

To design a name draft, we first pick a scheme by assigning a shaft to each letter. The scheme per se doesn’t matter, just as long as we are consistent. Here are two examples:


 Shaft 1  =  A E I M Q U Y
 Shaft 2 =  B F J N R V Z
 Shaft 3 =  C G K O S W  
 Shaft 4  =  D H L P T X  


 Shaft 1  =  A B C D E F G
 Shaft 2 =  H I J K L M N
 Shaft 3 =  O P Q R S T U
 Shaft 4  =  V W X Y Z    


You could also add numbers and punctuations. And because the number of letters in the alphabet and the number of shafts don’t come out even (26 is not divisible by 4), some like to double up, p and q, together for example, y and z, etc.

Next, we perform the following steps:

• Choose a name or a saying and convert it into threads on the four shafts using the chosen scheme.

• Adjust the threading so that the tabby (1 & 3 vs. 2 & 4) is maintained; that is, an odd shaft must be next to an even shaft; thus, for example, if a 1 is next to another 1 or a 3, we can either eliminate one thread, or add a thread; if we wanted to add, in this case we would choose an even thread, either 2 or 4. Throughout the draft we can use either addition or subtraction, whatever works to make the design pleasing.

• Overshot patterns are generally symmetrical, but they don’t have to be; if your draft doesn’t produce a symmetrical design, and you prefer one, either adjust the draft with incidental threads to make it symmetrical or reverse it to obtain its mirror image.

• If you are planning a finished product, for example, a table runner, add borders if it enhances the design; generally not needed if weaving yardage.

• Treadle tromp as writ (star fashion) or any of the other traditional overshot possibilities.

Are you ready to try one? Try your name, a common way to get started.

Next month – and that’s only two days away! – I will write up an example, using my name. “Here Comes the Sun” will have to be later, after Convergence®!




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