I’m now about 3/4 of the way through the shawl with the black cashmere weft. (Precisely 3/4, in fact – 51″ out of 68″.) The stuck threads seem to have settled down, now that I’ve disentangled numerous shafts from each other (they’re showing a distinct tendency to catch on each others’ heddles at the ends). However, the loom is driving me crazy. The sandpaper beam is held with a plastic ratchet (or whatever you call the gear-thing with teeth). Because the ratchet teeth are slippery and the brake that holds the ratchet is also slippery, and because the teeth are not well aligned with the brake and the brake has a tendency to slip to one side or another because the X-frame flexes, allowing the ratchet to move side to side if I’m not uber-careful…
…well, I’ll spare you the rest of the “because” and just say the damn thing’s slipping every time I try to advance. It slips while I’m weaving (fortunately, because I set up a live-weight system I don’t have to go fiddle at the back of the beam every time it does this). It’s been getting worse and worse and now only a few of the “teeth” will catch reliably at all. I’ve been saying many bad words, and have finally been reduced to tensioning using a combination of sandpaper and cloth beams – if one doesn’t catch, hopefully the other will.
This is, of course, totally unacceptable. Fortunately AVL has just come out with a new upgrade to an aluminum ratchet, which I have already paid for. (I’m amazed they originally shipped a $4500 loom with a plastic ratchet, but that’s another matter.) I had intended to weave off this warp and then send off the cloth and sandpaper beams for upgrading, but if I have to weave one more shawl with this #$!(* slipping ratchet, I’ll pull my hair out. So as soon as this shawl is finished, I’m going to cut off, tie off just behind the reed (I’ll need to retie anyway as my warp tension is currently a bit uneven), and ship my beams off to AVL for upgrading. This will mean I’ll have to wait a week or two to weave off the remaining warp, but it will be a small price to pay if it means the $#! ratchets actually work.
And, of course, it is soon to be chocolate season anyway, so a loom rest might not be out of order. I’d prefer to finish off this warp first, but since that’s not going to happen, no sense in crying over it. There’s plenty of other stuff to do!
And speaking of chocolate season, it’s already kicked off, in a modest way, with the purchase of 5 lbs of dried apricots, 6 lbs of orange blossom honey, a large package of various herbs and spices from Penzey’s Spices, and just shy of 1/2 gallon of heavy cream for testing truffle flavors. I’m currently kicking myself for not having made more brandied cherries – I have only barely enough for a production run, meaning I can’t make samples. As with weaving, sampling before a production run is important when making chocolates, especially when (as with the cherries) it’s a type you’ve never made before. So I am looking for cherries to try another test run with. Too bad they’re out of season in both hemispheres.
So, I will finish off the shawl, ship those beams off to AVL, and work on my chocolate molds and my chocolate silkscreens. And test flavors in the chocolate kitchen. 🙂