"See the handsome cat!" says Dyson.
He's a Maine Coon. The loom is a 16-shaft 24" Harris, in slightly sadder condition than I was expecting; its previous keeper didn't cherish it enough. All the metalwork has a significant coat of rust, so I've been sanding the shafts with finishing paper, then using wire wool before a finishing polish with a silicone furniture spray. The heddles just *glide* after that. Alas, I realised yesterday that some of the heddles are crossed; I have to take them off and put them back. Some shafts are held together with twists of garden wire: I have to buy some small nuts and bolts. One shaft is missing the end that comes off: I've ordered a new shaft from Emmerich (the company that bought Harris), which should arrive on Friday. Kevin is now the only person who can deal with loom queries; he's very nice, but busy. I suggested to the person who answered the phone that the company arrange for any staff who are remotely interested to take an introductory weaving course. I can't believe there won't be one or two who want to learn and do more, and they'll be able to answer queries more easily.
Anyway, the shafts are the easy bit. The reed seems to me (having never done this before) to be more difficult. Sanding every gap, even when it's only 8-dent, is going to take ages. I rang a blast-cleaning company, but the chap sucked his teeth and said he thought it would erode or buckle the reed. I will try 'flossing' it with rough hessian garden twine, then with parcel string, and see what happens. I'm slightly desperate to get it done because I am quite literally dreaming of weaving. Twill, in silk. I have a warp ready, you see...
That's why the reed has to be in good condition. It is silk. Cream silk. OK, that's completely over-the-top for my first piece, but on the other hand I have a secret project with a tight deadline that has to be done in silk, so it makes sense to start sampling the stuff I will shortly be weaving. The wefts are silk, too. The photo doesn't do it justice! Everything bar the coloured stuff is from Handweavers. The coloured stuff is from Treenways; I was just passing, honest, not looking at yarn porn at all, when I realised that the occasional band of the right colour might look really interesting next to the darks and the noil. The internet is a wonderful thing.