I was having terrible problems with sticky warps this morning, and finally decided that the loose tension was to blame. I wasn’t sure whether it was the brake band slipping on the WDL or whether it was loose tension on the warp beam, but finally decided to kill two birds with one stone and move to a live-weight tension system, which would solve both issues. So I set it up with a pair of 20-pound dumbbells, which worked OK, but I really needed more weight. So I went out and bought a cheap set of barbells, which came with 90 lbs of iron plates, each with a convenient hole in the center.
Then I set up the live-weight tension system as in Katie Meeker Reed’s book, Warp with a Trapeze and Dance with Your Loom, wrapping a cord twice around the warp beam, putting a heavy weight on one side and a smaller weight on the other side, and doing this on both sides. The idea is that the heavy weight provides the tension (pulls back on the warp), and the smaller weight provides just enough tension/friction that the heavy weight doesn’t just slide to the floor. (It’s a little more complicated than that, but I’m not going to go into it now.) I set it up with 60 lbs, 30 on each side, to tighten the warp up a little more.
And it worked pretty well! I still have the occasional sticky thread (I think the sett was a little too dense), so I’m beating twice for each shot – once before throwing the shuttle, once after – but I’m getting pretty clean sheds now.
So I wove up about eight inches of “junk” while debugging, followed by about 12″ of “real” fabric. I have the first foot done! Not much compared to the final length, but an important first step.
I also did a rough calculation on my weaving speed. When I’m cranking along, without broken threads, etc. I can weave about 16″ per hour. Figuring I get 20 yards of woven fabric out of a 25-yard warp (allowing 20% for take-up, loom waste, etc.), that puts about 45 hours of weaving ahead of me for this piece. Add 25% for fixing broken warp threads and misc overhead, and it gets to about 60 hours. Realistically, that will take me about a month and a half, especially with Weavolution releasing in just 11 days (!!). But I’ve got plenty of time…we’re not getting married until next year, so I’m not really under any deadline pressure.
That said, I want to complete this quickly…not because I need to, but because I can’t WAIT to weave it! It’s coming out beautifully. I wish I could take a photo to capture it, but it’s proving difficult to photograph while still on the loom. White on white is tricky, and I can’t drape the fabric to catch the light. However, I’m going to cut off a foot or two as samples for the Complex Weavers Garment Study Group, and I’ll probably wet-finish and photograph that this weekend. It is GORGEOUS.