Whilst weaving the Brighton Honeycomb scarves my thoughts have been turning to what I should be doing next with my counterbalance loom. I had decided some time ago that I would try some overshot on it and that in fact overshot would be better woven on the counterbalance than on a dobby loom.
My reasoning is that on a computerised dobby loom it is not that easy to vary what you are weaving from the draft that is being used by the software. This is fine when you know exactly what it is that you want to weave. When weaving overshot there are circumstances where the number of picks woven of a particular lift will depend on how well the pattern is squaring up which in itself is dependent of the grist and compressibility of the weft yarns.
The inestimable Mary Meigs Atwater explains it much better;
"In weaving - if it is intended to produce the pattern "as drawn in"- each block must be woven with the number of weft shots required to make it square. The number of weft shots required varies with the weight of weft-material used, so that it is impossible to write down treadling directions that will be correct for all materials. The weaver must use judgement in the matter." (The Shuttle-Craft Book of American Hand-Weaving- Mary Meigs Atwater, Page 116)When sampling there is also a need for flexibility - if a particular treadling sequence is not to your liking then you want to switch to something else immediately. This flexibility is easy on a treadle loom, not so easy on a dobby loom.
I like reading what Mary Meigs Atwater wrote and I am fascinated by overshot patterns. I know that it sounds a bit silly but I feel that if I use my elderly counterbalance I shall somehow be a little closer to the weavers of the past. It's the "vibes" man.