It took two days to weave the second sample, but here it is. It's a strange one, and I changed so many elements I'm not sure if these two can tell me how I'm going to proceed.
Warp sticks and break easily, so:
1) I rethreaded at 18EPI; the first was 21EPI.
2) I wove at a much lower tension than I'm used to. I usually weave under high tension, and during lockdown I was surprised to see a vid by a weaver weaving with wool at a visibly much lower tension than I could ever imagine, so I tried similar. For me it was very slow weaving, checking the tension very carefully all the time.
One or both of these changes seemed to have worked as I had no broken warp while weaving the second sample.
3) I experimented with, what's the word, softer/gappier beating. Again, I'm used to wefts going in tightly against the previous, so I tried a variety of spacey, netty and snug beating/placements. Spacey was so loose it didn't maintain position going over the breast beam; netty moved more than I feel comfortable. Snug worked well in leaving enough room for the merino to fluff up and didn't slow down the weaving too much.
So my thoughts as of Saturday morning:
A) Quite a few weft colors work well, so, phew. I particularly like the navy blue and darker of the two dark purples which appears to be so very close to the purple in the warp.
B) The shiny warp yarn shows up much better in the cloth when woven at 18EPI, creating quite a different look from 21EPI, and works particularly well with one darker purple weft.
C) 18EPI yields a lacy and airy cloth while 21EPI feels more "integrated." It also feels slightly meatier. The texture of 18EPI cloth is ethereal/unreliable.
D) Last night, gut instinct told me the look and feel of 21EPI are more interesting and the cloth nicer. This morning I still feel the same, but will returning to 21EPI invite broken warp ends? I wonder what kind of cloth will be made woven in 21EPI under the new, lower (?) tension compared to the first sample.
There are, also, the small issue of uneven tension in the warp, and the loom computer doing sporadic and unwanted things. Again. I wonder if I should resley, and if so, would I need another sample? But first, Dr Ben is observing the computer today.
Notes: 18EPI sample washed up to 8.5inches/21m wide; 21EPI, 7.25inches/18.5cm.