What's in a name?

Marcy Petrini



I find it very confusing when people use the incorrect terminology to describe an entity. My husband Terry Dwyer always says that the vocabulary in any given field is a good part of learning that discipline, be it medicine or weaving. And my advisor in graduate school would always insist on not changing the meaning of a word for our convenience, or even inventing one when there was a perfectly good term already available. Perhaps that is the reason why redefining terms drives me crazy, whether it’s the “crab cake” made with tofu and herbs in a menu, or the description of the natural media of “wood, paper, plastic, and graphite” used by a New Orleans artist, or color-and-weave as we talked about in my April 11, 2016 blog; what’s wrong with tofu cakes? Or man-made plastic as an art medium? Or a colorful twill scarf? The more exact we are with our vocabulary, the clearer the information we are trying to convey.

Unfortunately, there are ambiguities, especially when we use more than four shafts, although last week (blog of April 25, 2016), we talked about shadow weave on four shafts appearing in two ways just by changing the order of the colors in the treadling: as a weaving structure shadowed, or as totally different color-and-weave motifs.

Another ambiguity that I have run across is overshot and monks’ belts. Both structures are supplementary weft weaves, with a pattern weft, loftier and larger than the ground warp and weft, which forms blocks superimposed to the ground cloth. Below is a sample of overshot with its characteristics three areas: the overshot area, the blue blocks in this sample; the plain weave area, in white; and the half-tones, showing grids of blue and white.

Whenever a block appears on one side of the fabric, there is plain weave on the other, and vice versa. The half-tone areas are formed by the sharing of shafts between blocks which are derived from twills: block A is threaded 1, 2, repeat; block B is threaded 2, 3 repeat; block C is threaded 3, 4, repeat; and block D is treaded 4, 1, repeat.

In contrast, monks’ belts, shown below, has no half tone areas, because there is no sharing of shafts between blocks; while overshot has four possible blocks on four shafts, because of the sharing, monks’ belts has only two: block A is 1, 2, repeat; block b is 3, 4, repeat.

Is monks’ belts just a variation of overshot? It has been called overshot on opposite (since block B is threaded with the opposite shafts of block A). Or is it its own weaving structure since it lacks the half tones which are characteristic of overshot?

When we move from four shafts to eight shafts, another complication arises that adds to this confusion: floats. Do you see why?

How overshot and monks’ belts are extended from four to eight shafts are examples of the two methods that I like to think can be used for this extension. This is a topic that I will discuss at the More Than Four super seminar at Convergence®, and there will be a brief introduction in my next blog.


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