The Buyer’s Guide to Rigid Heddle Looms is here to help you evaluate my three top picks. A Rigid Heddle Loom is a great place to start on your weaving experience. But, finding the best loom for you can be a challenging and confusing job.
Because there are so many different rigid heddle looms that I thought I would outline some of the differences in the brands. A rigid heddle loom is a frame loom. The various configurations applied by manufacturers assist the weaver. As I go through the different looms, I will point out the additions and how they facilitate or hamper the weaving.
Things to Consider Before You Buy
- Where/how do you plan to weave? On a tabletop, the loom anchored between your body and a table edge, or the loom in a stand. (Stands provide the most comfortable weaving position.)
- Do you want a lightweight loom or heavier loom? A heavier loom facilitates weaving. Portability? Do you want a folding loom?
- Assembly Required? Some of the looms require full assembly.
- Shed positions. Does the heddle just hang in the warp? Is the heddle able to set on blocks/slots for the up shed and hook below for the down shed?
- As far as size, you want a loom that you can comfortably throw the shuttle across the width of the loom. The wider the loom is means you need to stretch your arms. But, you can always weave smaller items on larger looms.
- How much actual weaving space in front of the heddle does the loom have? More weaving area means you can weave longer before advancing the warp and adjusting the tension. It is usually not a good idea to work right up against the rigid heddle. If you can’t comfortably pass your shuttle through the shed and still make an arc with your weft, you need to advance your warp. A loom has a “sweet spot” for weaving. The area about an inch above where the cloth goes over the front or cloth beam up to a little more than an inch from the rigid heddle is where I find weaving consistency.
- Price. Rigid heddle looms range in price from approximately $150-$400. All of these looms weave fabric. The differences are the extras, the wood, the ratchets, and the width. Notice I didn’t mention quality. That is because all of these companies manufacture quality products.
Buyer’s Guide to Rigid Heddle Looms – Review of Looms
I am reviewing rigid heddle looms that I own and used when I taught weaving. In my retail store, I sold all of these brands, plus other brands. This review only includes the brands that, I feel, perform the best and are comfortable to use. I am not addressing what tools that come with the looms. Certainly, some looms come with more accessories. They all provide the necessary equipment to get you started. All of these looms will weave beautiful fabric. However, some allow you to work more efficiently.
I have owned every size of Ashford rigid heddle looms. They are sturdy looms. Except for the Knitters Loom, they require assembly and finishing. Stands with a side shelf are available for purchase. The tray comes in handy when you are using several shuttles. These looms are a very economical loom and are a step above the Beka loom in amenities.
As I talked about in my post-Rigid Heddle Loom Comparison of Ashford and Schacht, I prefer a loom with both a front and back beam. Ashford looms do not have these. Your warp runs straight from the warp beam at and angle through the heddle to the cloth beam. As the cloth beam fills, the angle gets reversed. The front and back beam permit the warp to run level throughout the weaving.
This does not keep me from weaving on my SampleIt loom. It is just too easy to use.
Ashford has weaving tutorials.
These looms are in the mid-price range.
Ashford has three models of rigid heddle looms.
- SampleIt Loom – This is an ideal first loom. There are two weaving widths -25cm (10″) or 40cm (16″). It has a built-in second heddle option. The loom comes with a 7.5dpi (30/10cm) heddle. Additional heddles, including a variable dent one, come in six sizes. A stand is optional. There is a carry bag available for purchase.
- Knitters Loom – This is Ashford’s foldable loom. It is lightweight and portable. It also folds in half with your weaving intact. There are three weaving widths – 30cm (12″), 50cm (20″), or 70cm (28″). The loom arrives lacquered and assembled. In addition, there is a built-in second heddle option, and there are six sizes of heddles, including a variable dent one, available. This loom comes with a carry bag. A stand is optional.
- Rigid Heddle Loom – These are Ashford’s natural finish kit looms. They require assembly. They come in four weaving widths – 40cm (16″), 60cm (24″), 80cm (32″), or 120cm (48″). It comes with a built-in second heddle option. Also, they have also drilled holes for indirect warping, but without the pegs. Consequently, the pegs are an optional purchase. There are six sizes of heddles, including a variable dent one, available. A stand is optional.
My first rigid heddle loom was a Beka SG. Subsequently, Beka has added more styles of rigid heddle looms and a folding rigid heddle loom to the mix. Beka is the most economical bare-bones looms. The frame is Danish Oil finished Cherry wood.
This is a good loom for the beginner as well as the advanced weaver. Remember, this is a very lightweight loom.
The SG series of looms have teeth on both the cloth and warp beams. Instead of tying the warp to a dowel, you hook the loop over the teeth. So, this method creates an evenly spaced warp. With additional standard heddle blocks, you can use up to three heddles at a time. The tensioned warp holds the heddles in place. In my experience, the SG series has the longest heddle-to-front beam measurement. The SG series holds up to 4 or 5 yards of yarn. SG series looms are available in two widths: 20″ or 24″ with heddle sizes 8 or 12 dents. Also, there is a stand available for this loom.
Consequently, these looms are in the lower-price range.
I should note that Beka has added more advanced looms, including a Fold & Go loom. I have not seen these looms in person, so I did not include them in this review.
Even though I have access to almost all of the brands of rigid heddle loom, the one I weave on the most is a Flip made by Schacht. Why? Their looms are heavier, there are front and back beams, they have a good actual weaving area in front of the heddle, have great heddle blocks, and have sturdy stands. When I am not weaving, I can drop the loom down in the stand and set it out of the way.
Above all, Schacht has PDF patterns available for download.
These looms are in the higher price range.
Schacht has two models of rigid heddle looms.
- Cricket Loom – This is a compact unfinished maple ply and hard maple loom. Therefore, assembly is required. There are four reed sizes: 5, 8, 10, and 12. You can choose between a 10″ or 15″ weaving width. Similarly, the 15″ width loom uses the same reeds as the Flip rigid heddle loom. In addition, a floor stand or a carry bag is available for purchase. Also, there is a variable reed that allows different sizes of warp yarn in the same warp.
- Flip the Folding Loom – Fine-toothed nylon ratchets provide precise tension control. The conveniently located heddle blocks on the sides of the loom hold the rigid heddle in the up, down, or neutral position. Consequently, the top cross braces (front and back beams) allow long warps, up to 5–6 yards (depending on yarn weight and winding paper), to be wound on the beams without impacting the size of the shed. The Flip comes in four widths: 15″, 20″, 25″ or 30″. In addition, a variable reed available. A trestle stand and a carry bag are also available. A Flip Trap is available for purchase. Likewise, the Flip Trap gives you a convenient yet still a portable place to set your tools while weaving. Using the same holes as the clamps, the Flip Trap installs into the ends of the loom sides, using the same holes as the clamps.
I prepared this chart for you so that you can at once glance compare the above looms.
Compare Rigid Heddle Looms
|Ashford SampleIt||10″ or 16″||2.5, 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, or 15 dpi||Built-in||Yes|
|Ashford Knitters Loom||12″, 20″, or 28″||same as above||Built-in||No|
|Ashford Rigid Heddle||16″, 24″, 32″, or 48″||same as above||Built-in||Yes|
|Beka SG-20||20″||8 or 12 dpi||Yes||Yes|
|Beka SG-24||24″||8 or 12 dpi||Yes||Yes|
|Schacht Cricket||10″ or 15″||5, 8,10, or 12 dpi–Also, a variable heddle||No||Yes|
|Schacht Flip the Folding Loom||15″, 20″, 25″, or 30″||5, 8, 10 and 12 dpi-Also, variable heddle||Built-in||No|
What Do I Use
As a long-time yarn shop owner, I have sold almost every brand of rigid heddle loom there is. This review only covered the ones that I think are the most reliable and easy to use. In conclusion, my go-to brand is Schacht’s 25 inch Flip. I still weave on several different Ashford looms, too. My original Beka loom hangs on the wall.25″ Flip
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
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Buying a Used Loom
If you decide to buy a used loom, check the wood for cracks, check that the ratchet and pawls still hold. Also, depending on the age of the loom, modifications may be necessary for you to add a stand or other features. Because of significant advancements in loom manufacturing, some of the newer features/accessories are not compatible with older looms.
Best Width for a Beginner
Therefore, if you are serious about learning to weave and feel you are going to want to create fabric for clothing, I recommend a width of 25 inches. Most pattern pieces will fit on a 25-inch cloth. Remember, anything bigger than 25 inches will be intimidating and harder to move and store. If you just want to weave scarves, then any of the smaller widths will work. Also, the rigid heddle reeds cost more for larger looms.
If you feel you don’t want to invest in a 25-inch loom, I recommend the 15-inch Cricket or Flip, or the 16-inch SampleIt or Ashford rigid heddle looms.
How Much do Rigid Heddle Reeds Cost?
Understandably, prices increase correspondingly with the increase in width. But, you can expect to pay from $35-$100 for each reed.