I finished my first piece on the new loom. It turned out to be a great wrap/really giant scarf.
Before washing: 18" by 64".
After washing (very gentle, by hand, in cold water): 17.5" by 60" (plus fringe)
I trimmed the fringe to be about 6" long on each side.
It drapes comfortably on my shoulders and is soft enough to wear up against the skin. This would be a great wrap for a cool office, or a very large scarf for a really cold day. I'm wearing it right now and it stays on well even when I'm typing.
The good: I love the color and texture of the piece, and the edges look pretty good. Also, I really like the hemstitching.
The Learning Experience(s):
I must not have had the tension on the warp very even. There were a lot of skips in the warp and floats. A few times, an especially floppy warp thread would just lie there on the top of the fabric. I could sometimes get the warp to behave when in the down shed by pulling gently to lift the warp threads - but I knew that was't a great solution, since it was probably stretching them even more and making them looser.
Some of the issue was the yarn I used. It was technically strong enough to withstand warping, but the bouncy, thick-and-thin nature of the yarn made it more prone to a less-than-even warp, I think. I'll have to test that theory later.
The floppy warp seems to be the cause of my problems with the boat shuttle, too. I have a new warp on the loom right now and the shuttle works very well in both directions.
The problems I had with this piece turned out to be good motivation, because it forced me to learn a different way of winding on the warp. Bonus: I can now start a warp even when I'm home alone. If my stash isn't quaking in fear, it should be.
Crank and Yank
After I had so many problems with this warp, I went online and read up on the "Crank and Yank" method. It comes down to this:
1) Wind the warp on for a short distance without any tension on it at all. Add whatever packing material you desire.
2) Go to the loose threads of the warp and, working in groups that are about 1" across, grab them and firmly tug them. This tightens the warp you have already wound.
Repeat steps 1 and 2 until all of your warp is on the loom. Alternate starting from one side, then the other, and alternate between hands, to make it as even as possible. Also, try to grab slightly different groups of warp threads every time, to even out any changes you might be making as you go.
I think this method will work really well for me unless the cats get involved. So far they have the good sense to leave me alone when I'm weaving, except that one of them is obsessed with the threading hook that came with the Schacht, and keeps stealing it. Weirdo.
The only issue I had with Crank and Yank is that I needed to add a little weight to the bottom of the loom, to keep it from sliding around. I placed a 10-pound dumbbell on the bottom of the stand, and that worked very well.
Oh, and I had to put my vinyl blind slats much lower on the warp beam than I did before - otherwise they tended to pop out as I was pulling!