About 3/4 of the way through phoenix #3, I happened to look at the piece sideways, at a shallow angle to the cloth. To my horror, there was a clearly visible stripe through the black background! Seen from the front, it was invisible (which is how I missed it while weaving), but from the side, it was completely obvious. However, I wasn’t quite sure whether it was because I had used the wrong yarn to repair that section of warp (which was possible) or whether it resulted from tension differences which would work themselves out in the wash. In any event, I was three-fourths of the way through, and I didn’t have enough yarn left to start over. So I forged boldly ahead, hoping the differences would come to naught.
Alas, ’twas not the case. I had inadvertently used the wrong yarn – a black with a reddish cast, rather than the blue-black I’d used in the rest of the piece. So there was a subtle-yet-obvious reddish stripe going through the entire piece (dead center in the photo):
If it had been a dishtowel I was planning to keep for myself, no problem – but this is intended as a show piece and a gift. A judge would notice the stripe instantly, and I’d feel bad about giving someone such an obviously flawed gift. So, there was nothing left to do but dye another batch of weft yarns and weave a fourth phoenix.
Fortunately, I made a wonderful discovery yesterday: the switches Mike installed have literally doubled my weaving speed! While activating the foot pedal by hand, I was cruising around at about 600 picks/hour (about 6 seconds per pick); using the new switches, I was blazing along at 1200 picks per hour! There are 5400 picks in the phoenix, which means that weaving a fourth phoenix will take just 4.5 hours, instead of nine. And weaving is less strain on the body as well, so I can easily finish the phoenix in a day and a half, even taking frequent breaks.
The switches are actually so sensitive that beating vigorously will activate the switch independently as the beater hits the fell. Since I am beating on an open shed anyway, this is perfect – it means I don’t even have to activate the switch to change sheds. Just throw the shuttle, beat, and throw the shuttle again. Wonderful!
(This may prove to be a liability later – if so, I’ll figure out a way to fix it. Right now, I’m loving it.)