Category Archives: Guild Projects

Black Sheep 2023 Towel Exchange!

Black Sheep 2023 Towel Exchange!

We are excited to announce the guidelines for our 2023 towel exchange and look forward to seeing all your beautiful contributions at our June Guild Meeting or alternatively at CNCH in August!

Guidelines for the Black Sheep towel exchange 2023:

Participation: Any member of the Black Sheep Guild can participate in the towel exchange

Due dates: we will collect all participating towels before our June 2023 meeting on June 15

Submission: You can bring your towels to the June 2023 meeting (if we are holding the meeting in person) , drop it off in South San Jose or or send it via mail

Distribution: We are planning to showcase and distribute your towels at the 2023 CNCH in San Luis Obispo. If you cannot participate, we would be happy to send your towels home with a friend or colleague. 

Specifications: Towels must be woven from cotton, linen, hemp, or any combination of these fibers. Finished size is to be between 18” and 22″ inches wide, and 25” to 28″ long. 

Please plan ahead to address shrinkage and pull-in. Please finish with a hem, either hand-sewn or machine-sewn.

Closer to the due date, we’ll provide you a form to fill out for each towel asking for information on you and your towels, including loom, draft, yarn info, inspiration, etc.

Hang onto your finished towels until the June 2023 meeting; we’ll collect them at the meeting, or if we’re unable to meet, we’ll tell you where to mail your towels. 

When you turn in your towels, we’ll be asking you to tell us your color preference: warm colors, cool colors, neutrals or potluck.  We’ll do our best to honor your preferences.

You’ll get three towels from three different Black Sheep weavers at the 2023 CNCH meeting in early August. If you are unable to attend CNCH this year,, we’ll arrange another way to get your towels to you.

Want to get back more than 3 towels? Go ahead and turn in more! Please make them in multiples of 3.

You turn in 3 towels, you get 3 towels back. We are only accepting multiples of 3 towels

Questions? Contact 2023 Towel Exchange coordinators: 

Stefanie Selck (sselck [at] gmail [dot] com)

Barbie Paulsen (weaverbarbie [at] gmail [dot] com)


Mug Exchange – A Black Sheep Tradition

Black Sheep has the tradition of caring for the environment. One small thing we can all do is to bring a mug to the guild meeting and avoid using a disposable cup. For many years in the past, members exchanged mugs and created mug carriers. Some people got very creative and matched the design with the given mug. To give you ideas here are some pictures.





Unnamed #4

Unnamed #4 (aka Design 84)

It’s not a very inspiring name, but I fell in love with this Bertha Gray Hayes pattern. To me, it looks a little like Mickey Mouse on a slant. The ears and the asymmetry take me to a happy place.

The draft came from Weaving Designs by Bertha Gray Hayes Miniature Overshot Patterns (page 179). If you haven’t seen Bertha Gray Hayes’ overshot designs, you are in for a treat. The collection contains over 90 original designs, all drafted by hand and woven on a small Structo Loom on 4 harnesses.

I have really been enjoying myself with this draft. The draft has a repeat of 38 threads and 38 treadle sequences.  I’m glad I wound on extra warp because it took me a little bit to get the sett right (I went to 16 epi instead of 18), correct a mistake in my tie up, and then find the rhythm of the treadling sequence. Now that those are fixed, it’s been a joy to watch the fabric grow with each person’s yarn.

What you see above are the tail end of Teddie’s square (teal) and Ruth’s square (cinnamon) building.

As for Ruth’s question, my yarn is a handspun Blue Faced Leicester single that I dyed teal.

Pattern and Overshot Weft

My pattern is apparently formally called “Primrose in Diamonds” and it was made (designed or woven we wonder?) for Mariss Cottrell, 1813 by Weaver Rose, his No. 125. Found on page 146 in Davison, as suggested by Barbie in one of her samples handed around a few months ago.

I’d love to know what yarns everyone is handing around, now that most of them have been swapped, and we’re getting warped.

Mine is the rusty “Cinnamon” in Cascade Heritage 150, a nice superwash, colorfasst sock yarn that fit the bill for wpi and squishiness; I’m feeling I’ll have far greater success with this than the cotton I was messing about with last year for table linens. I get it now that-and-why they say wool for the overshot supplemental weft in an overshot pattern; the doubled cotton I tried was not any kind of squishy. Anyone who’d like to wince at a sample of less than skillful overshot fiber planning, I have one—they’re just fine as what they are, really, I just don’t *love* them.

This: I have a good feeling about.

What are your wefts?


Coverlet Project: The Nuts and Bolts

Who is weaving what?
(exchange yarn added Sep. 10th)

U. D. – Wandering Vine (aka Snail Trail, Cats Paw); Yarn: Teal, wool

R. T. – Primrose Diamonds; Yarn: Cinnamon, Cascade Heritage 150

K. D. – Johann Schleelein’s No. 125; Yarn: Blue/Purple

T. G. – Charity Beck; Yarn: Teal

C. V. – Sun, Moon and Stars

C. S. – Finnish Diamond: Yarn: Light Blue, cotton

A. M. – Bertha Gray #84; Yarn: Teal, handspun wool (single)

L. C. – Whig Rose; Yarn: Jade Green, wool

B. P. – Blooming Leaf; Yarn: Natural, handspun wool

J. P. – Star of Bethlehem; Yarn: Olive Green, wool

K. L. – ?; Yarn: Red

We have 11 weavers. This means that for a 12 square coverlet, one square will need to be repeated. For a 3 square by 4 square coverlet, the weaver would end up weaving 3 squares in her own weft: one for the guild quilt and two for her own coverlet.

What are the warp details?

8/2 cotton, unmercerized Valley Cotton from WEBS ( in natural

288 total ends

18 e.p.i.

16″ total sleyed width

18″ of warp allowed per square

36″ loom waste allowance

So a warp for 13 squares (12 for a 3×4 coverlet plus one for the guild) would be 7.5 yards long.

What are the weft details?

The tabby weft (the plain weave weft picks between each pattern weft pick) is the same 8/2 cotton as the warp.

Weft yarn choice is up to the weaver. Each pattern weft pick needs to be fat enough to spread out and cover the tabby wefts on either side. But it also needs to be squishy enough to fit in the spaces between the tabby picks and still allow the tabby weft to be packed square with the warp, at 18 per inch. So an ideal weft would be something that can cover an inch with 18 wraps but then squish down to about half an inch. This works out to something between fingering and sport weight, I believe, depending on how hard the yarn is. The variation between the different chosen wefts provides a lot of the educational aspect of this project.

144-150 yards of pattern weft per square. For each square, the number of weft picks should equal the number of warp ends, which is 288. For ease in calculation, allow a generous 18″ (1/2 yard) per pick, which results in 144 yards each of tabby weft and pattern weft per square. Rounding up to 150 yards allows a comfortable margin.

For a 13 squares, this adds up to at total of about 1,950 yards of pattern weft.

Coverlet Project: Overview

What is it?

In the fall of 2011, members of the Black Sheep Handweavers Guild decided to undertake a cooperative friendship coverlet project. In the end, each weaver will end up with an overshot coverlet in the yarn of her choice. It will be made up of many squares. Each square will be woven by a different weaver, using a different overshot pattern. It is both a sampler and a memento of friendship.

The squares will all share a common background and tabby weft of unmercerized 8/2 Valley Cotton from WEBS in a natural, off white color. The pattern weft will be the choice of each weaver. Some will buy a yarn that they like. Others will spin their yarn.

Why overshot?

Overshot was chosen for several reasons. It gives excellent dimensional stability, since there are the same warp type threads running in both the warp and weft directions. It also offers a wide range of patterns. There are many traditional patterns available in overshot that reflect its prominence as a Colonial American art form. There are also modern versions. And, truth be told, any twill pattern can be converted to overshot by running alternating plain weave picks between the pattern weft picks. An inch of plain tabby weave is woven between each square to provide space for lines of stabilizing machine stitching.

How do the squares become a coverlet?

Once the squares are all woven, the participants will gather with the collection of squares that they have each woven in all the different weft colors. The long strips of many squares of different colors will be cut apart in between the lines of machine stitching. The squares will then be exchanged with the other weavers until each weaver has all of her own weft yarn back.

Each weaver will then assemble her coverlet from the squares she has gathered from the other weavers who wove with her chosen weft. Some may chose to sew them directly side by side. Some may insert fabric between the squares. Others may crochet a border around each square before sewing or crocheting them together. Some form of material between the squares helps adjust for possible differences in size and squareness.

Each weaver has a different pattern and a different weaving style. Even though every effort is made to avoid pulling in, squares may come out different widths. Some patterns may lead to more draw in than others. Each weaver also has to adjust to a different weft for each square. This presents challenges as well. The beat that makes a perfect square in one weft may be a bit too hard or too soft for the next one. Checking pick counts can help a lot, but some variation in dimension is to be expected, regardless.

The guild coverlet

Each weaver in this project will also be weaving one extra square in her own yarn to donate to the guild. These squares will be connected by a number of volunteers into a single coverlet. The guild coverlet will reflect both the pattern and yarn color choices of the participants. It will be auctioned or raffled off at a guild meeting or event.

The wrap up

This project fits the guild to a tee. It fosters cooperation, encourages memories, and provides a crash course in many nuances of overshot weaving. After a number of months full of finding or spinning weft, dressing looms, weaving a wide range of wefts and doing the inevitable head scratching and deep breathing, we will each emerge with a memento of some wonderful weaving friendships. Weave on!

Handwoven for Garment Construction

This study group was an extension of the Handwoven for Garment Design workshop series with Sharon Alderman and Daryl Lancaster, meeting meet monthly to review progress and talk through any issues. It is now closed.