The last few days have been an exercise in frustration.
I started weaving the second phoenix yesterday. A few inches into it, I realized that some threads were not lifting as they should…which meant something was wrong. I tried gently loosening the pistons on the errant threads, but then others started sticking. After some diagnostic work, I realized that the problem wasn’t with the loom, but the environment. The TC-2 is designed to work within a temperature range of 62-82 F and a relative humidity of 30-65%. I was trying to weave at too low a temperature and too high a humidity. So the bores were contracting and the pistons (I think) expanding, resulting in stuck pistons.
I solved this problem by cranking up the dehumidifier, turning on the space heater, and giving things a couple of hours to settle. Magic! No more sticking.
Almost immediately, however, I ran into some ergonomic issues. Apparently my body does not like having to press the TC-2 foot pedal repeatedly, either standing or sitting. As a result, I’ve been battling hip bursitis for the last few months. After about a hundred picks, the bursitis flared up and I had to stop. Clearly, this had to be fixed.
So, at Mike’s urging, I attached the foot pedal to the castle of the TC-2, where I could trigger the next pick/lift by hand before beating the next pick. This solved the problem, and I wove almost eight inches successfully. Hooray!
But then I noticed something ominous. The bottom of the piece looked vertically stretched. I pulled out the finished phoenix to compare, and confirmed that the vase was far longer than it should be, even taking shrinkage into account. I started cursing, because I knew exactly what had happened. Moving the pedal to the castle had changed my weaving rhythm. Because I was triggering the new position by hand, I was bringing the beater forward (to place each thread in place) at a different point in the open/close rhythm of the lifting threads. That was enough to change my pick density (number of threads per inch), which elongated the weaving.
This would not be a major problem – the phoenix might be a little stretched, but not too badly – except that I had rashly included a moon in the piece. The moon, as everyone knows, is a sphere, so an ovoid moon would look distinctly out of place. So there is nothing for it except to weave another sample, correct the aspect ratio, and start over. Hopefully I will have enough yarn to finish the reworked version!
Fortunately, all is not frustration. I had some fun as well, doodling up a set of cat napkins to match the cat placemats. In addition to conveniently offering each diner a cat demanding to be fed, the napkins are designed so that, when folded into quarters, each quarter contains a cat or a cat yin-yang. The plan is for a set of 22×22″ napkins, a generous size for any spills. (The colors will change when I actually weave the napkins – probably burgundy or cranberry against black.)