I am a beginning weaver and have been trying to figure out weaving tabby for some days. I am planning to get an 8-shaft table loom and wish to weave overshot patterns. However, I’m confused: if all 8 shafts are being used, how do I weave tabby?
—Sissi from Hong Kong
I loved getting your question because it is an issue that perplexes beginners (I remember being there!). In the first place, the word “tabby" refers to the weft that weaves a plain-weave ground cloth while a different weft, the pattern weft, creates pattern (in overshot, summer and winter, and other supplementary pattern-weft structures). Tabby picks and pattern picks alternate. What has to happen to weave “tabby” is that every other warp thread must be raised for one of the tabby picks, and all of the other warp threads raised for the other tabby pick. These two tabby picks alternate. (The full sequence will be tabby a, pattern, tabby b, pattern, throughout.)
The threading determines which shafts you have to raise to make that happen. In the case of overshot, even shafts and odd shafts alternate in the threading. Therefore, if you raise all the odd shafts and make one tabby pick and then raise all the even shafts and make the second tabby pick, these two picks will weave plain weave. In the case of summer and winter, every other warp thread is on shaft 1 or shaft 2. The threads that alternate with them use all of the other shafts. Therefore, tabby is woven by raising first shafts 1 and 2 and then all of the other shafts.
In your case, which is overshot, you will raise odd shafts vs. even shafts for tabby. On eight shafts, tabby will be 1-3-5-7 vs. 2-4-6-8.
Hope this helps!