Choosing The Right Mix Of Looms For Your Goals

Choosing The Right Mix Of Looms For Your Goals

Having more than one loom is not a necessity to be a weaver.

The only thing you need to be a weaver is a desire to weave and access to a loom and other materials.

If you are lucky enough to have your own studio, then you might be wondering which type of loom you should get and whether or not you should get more than one. Choosing a loom (or looms!) doesn’t have to be complicated and really just depends on what you want to weave and where you want to weave it.

So first: Why would you want more than one loom?

You might not.

But having more looms gives you some options to weave more and keep your weaving momentum. You can create a weaving loom collection that compliments your weaving goals.

So before we get into having more than one loom, let’s first go over looms in general.


Quick loom type comparison


choosing the right mix of weaving looms

I will not be going over every type of each loom. There are just too many! Instead, I will be talking generally about floor looms, frame looms, and rigid heddle looms.

*And a quick note that when I talk about floor looms, the same things usually go for table looms. They work very similarly – I just use floor looms and not table looms.

For a more in-depth comparison between floor looms and rigid heddle looms go HERE.

For information on the different types of frame looms go HERE.

This post is not meant to be a versus post. Instead, it is about making your looms work together and getting the most out of your tools.


Floor looms


choosing a loom floor loom

There are many different types of floor looms, but they all basically do the same thing. They utilize their mechanics to make longer and more complicated weavings. 

One of the biggest features of floor looms is their ability to have advancing warps. This means that you can create longer projects. If you are looking to create yardage* then this is an option that you will want in your studio because their warp capacity, as well as the finished weaving capacity, is much larger than your other options.

*Yardage is woven fabric that is meant to be sewn and used to create textiles like clothing or curtains.

Due to the loom’s ability to raise your warp in different patterns – more complex weavings become simpler to do. You are not required to pick each individual warp to create your own shed. All you are required to do is remember which treadle to step on and in what order.

If you are looking to create a complex pattern weaving then a floor loom is your best option.



When you are looking to weave tapestry you can usually use a floor loom with no issues. Keep in mind that some floor looms are not ideal for tapestry, but most should be able to hold a tight enough tension. High warp looms (those with warp that is perpendicular to the floor) are great for tapestry, but low warp looms (warp parallel to the floor) are a bit controversial for tapestry. As long as it can hold a tight enough tension, though, you should not have any issues.

You can learn more about warp tension HERE.

Another distinguishing feature of floor looms is that their beater is rigid. This means that unlike rigid heddle looms, the beater only moves backward and forward. This makes the weaving process a little more streamlined. This may not be an issue for you at all, but if you want a beater that beats evenly every time with little effort – floor looms are a great choice.


Rigid heddle looms


choosing a loom rigid heddle loom

Like floor looms, rigid heddle looms can weave longer weavings. Generally, they are not as wide, though, so they are not usually used for yardage. This is also because they hold less warp than a floor loom. Don’t worry, their advancing warp still makes them great for longer weavings like scarves or multiple sets of towels. 

One of their (arguably) best features is that they are very simple and efficient to warp. If you are wanting to weave something long, but you don’t want the set-up to take a long time – then these are a great option.

Since they are so easily warped, rigid heddle looms also make great sample looms. If you want to create a long sample (like the one for plain weave patterns) then it is simpler on a rigid heddle loom as opposed to a floor loom.

Just like floor looms, rigid heddle looms also have the ability to create a shed. The shed makes weaving faster because you do not have to weave over and under manually.

Smaller than floor looms, rigid heddle looms also have the ability to be portable. Some are more portable than others (see my review on the Schacht Flip Folding Rigid Heddle Loom), but for the most part, most could be taken with you while traveling or to a workshop.


Frame looms


choosing a loom frame looms

With the many different types of frame looms they can all be better at different things. Generally speaking, frame looms are the best for weaving on the go. They are the most compact loom option and most of the time can fit in a bag or luggage. 

Since they are the smallest option, they are also perfect for weaving smaller projects. (Makes sense.)

A big feature of frame looms is they have much less warp waste. If you were to weave something small on a floor loom then you will be using more yarn than you need to. This makes them a really good choice for samples or just trying out new techniques. It also takes less work to get them set up so you do not waste time warping a loom for something that may not even work!

With frame looms usually having fewer moving parts, they are generally better suited for simpler weavings. Any complex patterns that you want to weave will need to be picked by hand. This does not make these patterns impossible – just more work.

Tapestry is a great option for frame looms since you are able to get really good tension on them. Also, since tapestry is only plain weave, the frame looms tendency towards simpler weaving structures is not an issue here.



Figure out what you want to weave


The most important thing to do when determining what loom or looms you need in your studio is knowing what you want to weave. As discussed above, each loom has its own areas where they excel.

So what should you do?

Sit down and write out what you want to make.

If you are only looking to create small tapestries, there is no need to purchase a rigid heddle loom, but a frame loom would be perfect. You could then consider a floor loom as well in the future to create larger tapestries.

Wanting to only weave scarves? Then a frame loom does not necessarily make sense. (Unless you want to make samples.) A rigid heddle loom would be perfect and a floor loom would help you make multiple scarves with the same warp.

Read more about getting more weavings out of your warp HERE.

You can also consider a checklist like the one I made below.


choosing a loom checklist

Keep your budget in mind


Budget might be one of the most important things to think about when purchasing one loom or more. Frame looms are mostly inexpensive and can probably be added to your studio for not much of an investment. So if you are thinking of adding a second loom, they might be your best option. Especially if you go for something as budget-friendly as a simple frame loom. 

Learn more about simple frame looms HERE.

If you have a specific budget, but you really want to weave yardage or complicated pieces then you might be best off saving up for your floor loom. If those things are not what you are hoping to make, you may consider a rigid heddle loom for longer weavings and a frame loom for small weavings, samples, and weaving on the go.


Utilizing more than one loom at a time


If you have the ability, having more than one loom is a great option for your studio. This way you can be weaving different things at the same time!

This is a great option if you tend to get bored of projects easily (especially those that take awhile.) If you have more looms then you can take a break from one project to work on another.

You could also try some things out on your second loom to see if it works instead of on your main project. This is a great choice if you are unsure if something is going to work out. Try it out on a sample and if it does not work? It’s ok because you do not have to un-weave it – just try something else.

Honestly, with how inexpensive simple frame looms are (you can just upcycle a picture frame) they make the perfect first, second, or third loom for your studio.

Just use your checklist for choosing a loom from there!

What is your preferred mix of looms? Let me know!


-Nicole

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Schacht Flip Folding Rigid Heddle Loom Review

Schacht Flip Folding Rigid Heddle Loom Review

Weaving and traveling are two things that actually go hand in hand quite often. While floor looms are big and heavy, your other options of frame looms or rigid heddle looms can allow you to get outside your studio and weave in the world. The Schacht flip folding rigid heddle loom is a great option for those who want the ability to weave larger pieces but the ability to do that wherever their life takes them.

The Schacht flip loom has a very special feature that I talk more about later, but essentially it folds in half for travel or storage. It actually comes folded in half during shipping so it gives you a good idea right out of the box just how compact and travel-friendly it can be.

While there are other folding rigid heddle looms, this one also has some other things going for it.


This page may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through these links then I will receive a small commission – at no extra cost to you! Please read our DISCLAIMER for more info. Thanks for the support!


Schacht Flip Loom Stats


First, the Schacht Flip Folding Rigid Heddle Loom is a great-looking loom with its wood gears and finished wood. The flip loom has a low profile which aids in its portability and ability to be folded.

It comes in 15, 20, 25, and 30-inch options. These are the weaving width and not the total width of the loom itself. The loom that I have is the 15-inch version and is great for scarves, towels, and other similar woven projects.

The smallest version available to purchase is the 15-inch weaving width loom. This loom is a total of 20 inches wide. When fully flat, the loom is 28.5inches long, but when folded it is only 18 inches. With the heddle in the highest position, it reaches 7 inches tall (6 inches when folded) and weighs 6.5 lbs.



How to put it together


schacht flip folding rigid heddle loom out of the box

This loom is almost ready to go right away!

Unlike some rigid heddle looms that you can buy, there is very little assembly required.

An unfinished and un-assembled loom means they are less expensive, but also means they require work to get started. With the Schacht flip loom there is no finishing required because the wood is already finished and smooth. No worrying about any yarn catching on rough spots!

The only part of the loom the requires your input to get started is attaching the apron strings and rods. The apron strings that come with the loom are not solid strings, but instead, have holes up and down the length of the string. This is how you attach the different rods to the loom.

Initially, the loop that you have to create to attach the apron rod is a little confusing from the diagram in the manual, but it is really pretty simple.

First, you want to attach the strings to the smaller rod all at once. Place the rod in a hole towards the end of each of the three apron strings. Then place the string through the 3 holes in the front or back beam. (pictured above in the last panel)

For each of the three apron strings – fold the other end and locate the second to last hole. Try to open this up as much as you can and then bring your folded end through the hole. The loop that is created will go around the larger dowel rod. (see images below)



What it comes with


schacht flip folding rigid heddle loom instructions

The Schacht flip folding rigid heddle loom (such a long name!) comes with almost everything that you need to start weaving right away. The only other thing that you will need is yarn and a pair of scissors.

When you buy this loom you get:

  •     Your loom! ( I would hope so!)
  •     2 flat shuttles
  •     Warping peg and clamp
  •     2 table clamps
  •     Heddle hook
  •     10 dent reed
  •     Instruction manual

schacht flip folding rigid heddle loom clamps

Optional accessories


While you get everything that you need (minus yarn) to start weaving, there may be other things that you will want.    

  • Stand – can be used for both the flip loom and the Schacht tapestry loom. This stand has an adjustable angle so you can find whatever position is most comfortable. This is a great option if you don’t want or have the space to rest your loom against a table and your lap.
  • Extra heddles 5,8,10,12 – extra heddles are great to expand your possibilities with your loom. Get a different dent heddle for more EPI options or grab a second of the same dent if you want to weave with 2 heddles at a time.
  • Variable dent heddles – these allow you to have different EPI’s in the same weaving! They could be fun if you want to play with weaving with different densities.
  • Carrying bag – this bag fits any size flip loom and has pockets for all your accessories.

What it does differently


schacht flip folding rigid heddle loom folded

One of the biggest selling points of the flip loom is that it flips!

Well actually, it folds – and it folds quickly.

You can take your Schacht flip loom from ready to weave to ready to leave in less than a minute. This makes it a great choice for anyone that will be traveling with their weaving and wants to create longer pieces than would be possible on a frame loom. 

The flip loom would be great for keeping in an RV, taking on a road trip, or even just a trip to the park. If you are going to be traveling with it often then a carrying bag (official or not) could be a great addition to keep your warp clean and all of your tools and supplies in one place. 

One of my favorite things about this loom is that it does not have to be empty to go into travel mode. In fact, it can be folded with your warp still on the loom! This makes it an ideal travel companion.


How to fold your loom


To fold your loom for travel you have to first take a little bit of tension off of your warp. Do this by unclasping your ratchet briefly and turning the knob to loosen the warp a click or 2 (not all the way!) Make sure to re-clasp the ratchet before going on.

Lay your heddle flat so that the bottom of the heddle is wedged into your neutral position slot. Unscrew your side lock knob just enough to allow it to fold and loosen the T-knob. 

Fold your loom in half! If there is resistance then STOP and make sure your knobs are loosened enough and/or check to see if you need to let off more tension from your warp. Your loom should fold very easily with no resistance.

Once folded – if there is any slack in your warp then tighten it up just slightly so that it doesn’t move around during travel. Your heddle and everything should stay in place!

To put it back in weaving position, just do the opposite – making sure to loosen your warp before trying to flip it back. This will help to make sure your warp doesn’t get put under unneeded stress.

Tighten all your knobs and start weaving.


Flat weaving surface


schacht flip folding rigid heddle loom flat weaving surface

One other great feature of the Schacht Flip Loom is the ledge featured at the front of the loom. This simple addition makes it so that your warp plane is parallel to the loom and not at an angle. This makes a better weaving surface to work off of since it does not go directly onto the cloth beam. Without this ledge, your woven fabric would be at an angle so this makes it more like using a floor loom or table loom.


Need help planning your weaving project? Stuck trying to figure out how much yarn you need? What the h&^$ is WPI? Check out my e-book!


Built-in second heddle option


One of the other big attractions of the Schacht flip rigid heddle loom is the built-in slot for a second heddle. 

While some looms have kits that allow you to add on a second heddle, this loom is ready from the beginning. The only thing that you will need is a second heddle!

Having 2 heddles to work with makes your rigid heddle weaving options expand greatly. You will be able to easily weave patterns and do basically everything you could do on a 4 harness floor or table loom.


Quirks & Tips


schacht flip folding rigid heddle loom heddle positions

While not everything is perfect, I still would not say that this quirk is a negative but instead part of the learning curve.

Initially, it can be a little confusing to figure out how to create your down shed on your loom. There is not a specific slot or area that intuitively would house your heddle in that position. Luckily, it is actually very easy to get your down shed once you know where to look!

The area of your loom that has your heddle slots has a smooth and slightly rounded lower edge where the loom folds in half. This is where your heddle goes for your down shed. Even though this may not be immediately intuitive – the rounded edge makes it an easy transition. Since the loom is slightly raised due to the legs at the back, there is actually plenty of space to move the heddle to each position.



A really simple but helpful tip is to keep the brown paper that your heddle comes wrapped in.

That might sound weird, but this can be a great warp separator for use around your back beam!

Most of the time you may use craft paper or paper strips to separate your warp, so you might as well save this free (included) paper to use. If you need more or you are ready to replace your paper from a lot of use, you can always cut up a paper bag from the grocery store for another good option.


Who the Schacht flip rigid heddle loom is for


Everyone weaves differently and no one loom will be great for all weavers.

But, if you are the kind of weaver that likes to travel and really likes options then this is a great loom for you. 

While portable weaving is simple to do with a frame loom, if you want to weave something a little bigger then this will work well. You also have the option to either weave simply with your single heddle or add on a second heddle to expand your options.

I recommend bringing this loom with you wherever you go and so you always have a way to get out your creative thoughts.

You can purchase the Schacht Flip Folding Rigid Heddle Loom on the Woolery!


Floor Loom or Rigid Heddle Loom?

Floor Loom or Rigid Heddle Loom?

Buying a loom can be a really big deal when setting up and furnishing your studio. A loom is not a small purchase so it is understandable to not want to make your purchase half-heartedly. 

Once you decide on what general type of loom you want, you then have so many more options to choose from. Just in the floor loom category there are multiple types of floor looms that are all better or worse at certain things. So this is a general post to get you started going in the right direction. 

It can be tempting to wait it out for your perfect loom to go on sale or find one in good enough condition that is close to you to buy second-hand. There is nothing wrong with waiting, but if finding your perfect loom is keeping you from starting your weaving journey, then you might consider a different loom to just get you going.

One thing to note though, and this is a rule that I follow in more than just my studio, the loom that gets you started is the perfect loom for you at that time.


Floor Loom Pros


Floor loom harnesses and shed

First, let’s briefly talk about what defines a floor loom. 

A floor loom is a type of loom with its base on the floor. These looms have foot peddles (treadles) that move the harnesses up and down to create a shed. Floor looms have separate heddles, beaters, and reeds. There are three main kinds of floor looms, but most weavers start on jack-style looms (and that is the kind that I have.)


Usually wider


While some rigid heddle looms come in wide options and some floor looms are narrow, generally speaking, floor looms have a wider weaving area. If you are looking to weave blankets or other wide fabrics then a floor loom might be the best option.

While it is possible to weave your larger fabrics in panels and attach them together if you have a narrow loom, this will be simpler on a floor loom.


Better for tapestry


More heavy duty = better for tapestry.

Due to their heavier nature, floor looms are a better option for weaving tapestry than a rigid heddle loom. (Although, some people would argue that low warp looms* aren’t ideal for tapestry either!) 

Tapestries require a high tension warp to allow the weft to flow around the warp instead of deflecting it. Floor looms are a better option for anything requiring a high tension because they are made with heavier materials. Metal and wood with little to no plastic.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t weave tapestry on a rigid heddle loom, but be aware that it may not be as easy to get and keep the tension that your tapestry requires. If a rigid heddle loom is what you have and you want to weave tapestry there is absolutely nothing stopping you from trying!

*Low warp looms are looms that have their warp parallel to the floor. A high warp loom would have the warp upright.

If you are interested in tapestry then you can learn more about it HERE.


Ability to weave more complicated fabric easier


Due to their multiple harnesses, floor looms are made for weaving complicated patterns and fabrics. The more harnesses you have, the more intricate and detailed patterns you can create with less work during the weaving process. An 8-harness floor loom lends itself to incredibly intricate and interesting patterns.

Most of the work for weaving on a floor loom is done upfront during the warping process. Then it is just a matter of following a pattern. (This is a generalization, as pick-up patterns and double-weave can be a bit more complicated than that.)

Think about it just like my post on choosing your simple frame loom warping method:

Do you want to do harder work now or later?


Longer weavings


The size and height of the floor loom lends itself to be able to hold longer warps than you would on a rigid heddle loom. Purely because the warp beam is further from the ground, it allows you to be able to wrap more warp around it. Depending on the rigid heddle loom you choose, you may be able to get more or less warp on it. 

Some floor looms come with the option for a warp separator on the back warp beam. This allows for an even longer warp to be put on and makes floor looms ideal for making yardage.

If you are interested in learning how to get the most out of your warp by planning multiple projects then check out THIS post.


Need help planning your weaving project? Stuck trying to figure out how much yarn you need? What the h&^$ is WPI? Check out my e-book!


Cons


Takes longer to warp


Ask any weaver that has ever warped a floor loom and they will probably tell you just how long it can take to go from cone to loom. Having a floor loom requires you to either have a warping board or warping mill to first measure out the length and number of warp ends required for your weaving. (so you also have to buy one of these warping tools.)

After measuring out all of your warp yarns you then have to transfer it to your loom.

Your warp then has to go through your reed, then the correct heddle in the correct harness, get tied onto your back apron, pulled through, then tied onto your front apron, and tensioned. (If you are warping front to back)

Especially considering you will probably be weaving larger pieces on a floor loom due to the weaving width available, this whole process can take awhile. With floor looms, there are no direct warping options to make it go faster.


Takes up a lot of space


floor loom width

With the exception of some folding floor looms that are smaller (and even these will take up more room than a rigid heddle loom) floor looms are meant to be a permanent feature in your studio. Once you find your place for your loom you probably won’t be moving around much as they tend to be heavy. This means that you will need to have a dedicated space for your floor loom. This may even be the biggest factor in choosing the type of loom you decide on.

The smaller folding looms are still not really meant to be portable (although sometimes they are used for traveling workshops) as they wouldn’t be something you would bring on vacation or in your RV. Instead they would take up most of the room in the back of your vehicle and not leave room for much else.


More expensive


With more parts, usually heavier materials, and the fact that they are larger – floor looms are more expensive than rigid heddle looms.

Again, this will depend on the type, size, and features that it has. While completely worth the price that you have to pay for them, the price is definitely a consideration. A new floor loom will typically cost you somewhere in the thousands. There is no doubt that this is a big investment in your future as a weaver.

Unless you absolutely want a new loom or you are looking for something very specific it may be a good idea to look for a used loom to save some money. You may have to wait a while, but you might just find one that will work for you.


Rigid Heddle Loom Pros


rigid heddle loom shed

Unlike floor looms, rigid heddle looms are meant to be propped on a table or used with a dedicated stand that will sit on the floor. They have a multipurpose heddle/ beater/ reed that does it all. The weaver creates a shed manually by raising or lowering the heddle into a slot and requires no foot movement.


Lightweight


Weights will vary depending on the size and type of rigid heddle loom you choose, but they are much lighter than floor looms.

Rigid heddle looms are meant for weavings that require less tension than floor looms. This makes it possible for the materials used to be lighter weight (wood or plastic gears instead of metal.) There is also a lot less to them when it comes to overall materials with no extra harnesses for the heddles, mechanics to move the heddle up and down, and no attached stand.


Portable


folded portable rigid heddle loom

The size and weight of these looms make them great for traveling. Some looms like the Schacht flip folding rigid heddle loom even fold in half for easier travel. (Full review of the Schacht Flip Rigid Heddle Loom HERE) The best part about that is that they can keep their working warp on them while folded!

These looms are great for bringing in your RV, on a road trip, or to your in-law’s house. They are also good for moving around your house if you don’t have a dedicated studio or you are just looking for a different view. 

Unlike the “portable” floor looms that can be used for workshops these are actually pretty portable. Even the rigid heddle looms that don’t fold will take up a lot less space then any floor loom would.


Less expensive


Rigid heddle looms are a more beginner-friendly option if you are looking to not invest a lot from the beginning. They are usually around a few hundred dollars with the less expensive ones being around $150 or so. 

Just because they are less expensive and beginner friendly doesn’t mean they are less than, just that there is less to them!


Easier to warp (direct warping)


rigid heddle loom direct warping peg

One of the best things about rigid heddle looms is the ability to direct warp them through the use of a warping peg (your loom may come with one!)

This cuts out the need for a warping board or warping mill. Especially if you only have one heddle, they are also easier to warp because you are not dealing with multiple harnesses and shaft patterns. Warping a rigid heddle loom can be a lot simpler and faster than warping a floor loom because you are completely cutting out multiple steps!


Cons


Not ideal for tapestry or rugs


As I already stated above in the pros for floor looms, rigid heddle looms aren’t really made for tapestry due to them not being able to hold the same amount of tension. Rugs also need the ability to beat your weft really hard and tight, this can be difficult on a rigid heddle loom. 

Neither of these things are impossible! It’s just not what they are made for, so you may have to work around some of the rigid heddle downfalls if you want to use it this way.



Can’t weave complicated patterns (or harder to do so)


It is possible to weave things like overshot and double weave on a rigid heddle loom, but you will need tools like extra heddles, pick-up sticks, or corded heddles. These things are all doable, but not as simple as weaving these patterns on a floor loom where you just need to step on a treadle to raise the right shed.

Also, not all rigid heddles looms have a spot for more than one heddle. This means you may have to purchase an extra kit or add one on with your own smarts and elbow grease. 


Which is right for you?


Floor loom or rigid heddle loom

Space


Do you have dedicated space for a loom? If so, how much? Smaller floor looms do exist, but so do stands for a rigid heddle loom if you want something that seems more permanent. 

The ability to take your loom with you might also be of great concern. If you don’t want to leave your loom behind and you want to weave long projects then buying a rigid heddle loom can be both your studio loom and your travel loom.


Money


With floor looms costing more than rigid heddle looms it is usually easier to start out with a rigid heddle. It makes sense to not invest the money on a large piece of equipment when you are first starting. (Frame looms are also an option!)

That being said, rigid heddle looms are fantastic looms and not just for those who can’t afford a floor loom. Take all of the other factors into consideration and if you still think that a floor loom is right for you but you are worried about the price then try to find a used one or take a class at your local arts center that teaches weaving. Try it out, then decide.


Types of projects


While both types of looms will allow you to weave many different types of projects, some of these projects will be simpler on a floor loom. If you are looking to weave tapestry or wanting to weave heavy duty rugs then a floor loom would generally be the best choice.

If you are just wanting to weave simpler scarves, towels, or don’t mind a little more work while weaving patterns then a rigid heddle loom would be a great option.


rigid heddle loom book

I recommend Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom by Syne Mitchell if you are just starting out on your rigid heddle journey. It’s a fantastic book for beginners and those looking to expand on their rigid heddle knowledge. (full review coming soon!) If you are just starting out on your floor loom journey then I recommend Learning to Weave by Deborah Chandler (full review HERE.)

What do you weave on? Let me know in the comments what you chose and why!


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This page may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through these links then I will receive a small commission – at no extra cost to you! Please read our DISCLAIMER for more info. Thanks for the support!


Types of Frame Looms – Portable Weaving

Types of Frame Looms – Portable Weaving

Frame looms (also sometimes called lap looms) are one of the best ways to learn how to weave and something that every weaver should have in their studio in at least one form. They are great for new weavers because they are more affordable than more complex floor looms and they are simpler to set-up. More advanced weavers should still have them on hand for traveling, sampling, or just making smaller weavings. There are many different types of frame looms to choose from depending on what you want to do and how much you’re willing to spend. But first…


This page may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through these links then I will receive a small commission – at no extra cost to you! Please read our DISCLAIMER for more info. Thanks for the support!


What Is A Frame Loom?


I get asked this question a lot and the answer can be both simple and complicated.

Simple: a frame loom is a weaving device that is almost always portable and is usually characterized by having 4 sides and a hole in the middle.

Think of a picture frame. At its root, that is what a frame loom is. 

Complicated: a frame loom is a weaving device where you apply the warp directly to the frame without the use of a warping board, mill, or peg first. The warp is generally hand manipulated during the weaving process either by manual weaving (with a tapestry needle) or through the use of shed tools. *see frame loom features in the next section* This device is usually small enough to be handheld or tabletop, but can also be quite large and still considered a frame loom if it meets the other characteristics.

There are a lot of different types of frame looms that you will probably come across and there is no governing body that determines the naming of these looms. For that reason some of these frame loom types are a little general.


Need help planning your weaving project? Stuck trying to figure out how much yarn you need? What the h&^$ is WPI? Check out my e-book!


Common Frame Loom Features


Shed Stick – A stick that is slid underneath specific warps to be flipped on it’s side to create a shed.

Heddle Bar – A bar with notches that match the EPI of the frame loom. This bar rotates by hand to lift and lower every other warp to create a shed.

Heddle Rods – Dowel rods with yarn attached to them. When these rods are lifted they lift up the warp yarns that they are connected to. These create a shed.

Castle – The highest part of some tapestry looms. It features notches that your heddle rods sit in and on.


Simple Frame Loom


simple frame loom

There is probably no mystery that I love simple frame looms. I did an entire post on them if you want all the details, but otherwise the gist of it is below.

I teach on them for all of my frame weaving classes and you can use pretty much any frame that you have on hand! The reason I love them so much is because they are inexpensive and give you a lot of options. Most often when I’m talking about simple frame looms I’m talking about wood frames from repurposed picture frames or painting stretcher bars. These looms are as simple as it gets because they have no notches or pegs to dictate your warp spacing. This freedom means that you can weave almost anything on a simple frame loom, take it off, and then weave something else on the same loom!

The downsides to this type of weaving loom is that since there is nothing to keep the warp in place, it can be easy for it to move around and for your spacing to be off. This is not a minor thing. Your warp spacing is a really important aspect of your weaving because it determines the type of weaving you are creating. You can work around this, but it is something to consider.


Fun Idea: You can head to the hardware store and get some loom supplies! To make a different type of simple frame loom you can try out copper or pvc pipes. Really anything you can create a frame out of can be a simple frame loom! If you come up with any other ideas for loom materials – let me know!


Peg/ Nail/ Pin Loom


peg loom

Generally, a peg loom is a simple frame loom that has nails or plastic pegs on 2 sides that you wrap your warp around. This allows for faster warping with less work. You can purchase looms that already have these pegs and pins or you can make your own with any wood frame and nails. When making your own, you have the option to make it with whatever EPI/ Warp Sett you want! If you have a specific EPI that you like to weave at and you don’t plan on changing it up, then these types of looms can be a great choice. Buy or create a peg loom do the warp sett that you prefer and be set!

This also leads to a potential downside to this type of loom – you are limited to the EPI that corresponds with the pegs or nails on the loom. If you want something with more options than simpler is better. This issue though is not limited to the peg loom, but instead almost every frame loom besides the simple loom. 

Another version of this would be a loom that has notches instead of pegs. They work the same way – where the warp goes around the notches, but they may be better for traveling since they don’t have any extra pieces sticking up to get stuck on everything.

You can purchase a peg loom like this one HERE.


Hokett Loom


The only loom on the list that only has 2 sides. A Hokett loom looks like an uppercase “I” and has notches for you to wind the warp. This type of loom was designed by Jim Hokett who has since retired and original Hokett looms are hard to find since they are no longer being made. That being said, you can find the Hokett style loom from other manufacturers under the names “hand loom” and “tapestry loom” on occasion. Due to this, they can be harder to find but a great addition to your studio.

While most of the looms on this list are great for traveling to due to their size, the Hokett loom is especially good because with no warp on them, they take up the least amount of space of all the options. Even with the warp they tend to be smaller than some of the other frame options. I have never seen a large Hokett loom!

Due to their design, they are easy to hold in one hand while weaving with the other. This makes them great for when you don’t have a way to prop up your loom on a table or on your lap. Think about weaving with this loom while outside on vacation. They make a great plein air loom to take hiking or really anywhere!

The Hokett loom has the same disadvantages as the peg and notch loom above since they have set notches.

You can purchase a Hokett style loom HERE, or check Etsy for more options!



Mirrix


This is actually another brand of loom – but they really are a type all their own. Mirrix looms are basically adjustable pipe looms with a coil on the top for spacing and a shed system. The coils are interchangeable for different warp setts just like the reed on a floor loom. There are options for 8,12,14, and 18 Ends Per Inch. This makes the Mirrix loom very versatile for different projects.

They also have adjustable tension so you can get a tighter warp – which makes them great for tapestry. Mirrix looms are on the pricier side for a frame loom – but could be well worth it if you want something that is adjustable and easy to weave on. They also look pretty cool – if that’s your thing!

Full disclosure – I don’t have a Mirrix loom, but I have only ever heard great things about them! If you’re interested in Mirrix, you can find them HERE. They also make a Hokett style loom that is adjustable!


Tapestry Loom


tapestry loom

This is really a general name and doesn’t technically apply to any specific loom. That would make things too easy. In fact, if you were to google tapestry loom you get a lot of different types including probably all of the options we already talked about. That is because tapestry can pretty much be woven on anything as long as you can get the warp tight enough and spaced correctly.

So what does that mean for this frame loom category?

This is sort of the leftover category. These looms are by no means less than but they don’t have any specific name to attribute to them so they fall here.

The looms that are most often categorized as tapestry looms have a heddle rod or other shed device that allows you to weave up faster. A lot of them also feature a stand that will make it easier for you to weave upright and the ability to have an advancing warp. (If they don’t have a stand then I recommend this frame loom hack). This means you can weave a larger weaving faster and in a better position.

They are usually less portable, though, and you are limited to a specific EPI since they normally have notches.

You can find these types of tapestry looms made by some of the big companies that also make floor looms. Besides the Mirrix loom these are often more “complicated” than the other frame looms since they may have more moving parts. Don’t let that deter you though, they can still be great for beginners if you want something that does a little more of the work for you.

You can check out different tapestry looms HERE. If you’re looking for a really inexpensive frame loom with a shed device then check out this one HERE (pictured below). Yeah, it says it’s for kids – but it gets the job done!


tapestry loom

Whether you are looking for something extra portable or something that does some of the work for you – there is a frame loom for you! Also, there’s no reason you can’t have more than one kind.

What’s your favorite type of frame loom? Let me know in the comments and tell me why you love it!


-Nicole



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types of frame looms

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Pros and Cons of a Simple Frame Loom

Pros and Cons of a Simple Frame Loom

A simple frame loom is a FANTASTIC piece of equipment to have in your studio. They are versatile, portable, and easy to store.

They happen to also be a great way to learn how to weave. In fact, when I was learning how to weave we used a loom made from 18”x 24”  canvas stretcher bars. No lie, I still use this exact same frame all the time in my studio. This is also the method I teach in my classes and workshops because it’s great for beginners, but has enough potential to still be perfect for professionals.

You might say I am a fan.


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What is a simple frame loom?


Any loom made from a frame that doesn’t use notches, nails, or any other method to hold and space your warp.

Simple


simple frame loom

What are your other options?


There are a lot of commercial frame looms out there that you can purchase. Different companies call them different things. Tapestry looms or lap looms can even look different depending on who makes them. Generally, they have dedicated notches for the warp and a device to make weaving simpler (more on that below). The looms vary widely in their price, size, and extra options.

So why would you choose one over the other? Let’s take a look.


Need help planning your weaving project? Stuck trying to figure out how much yarn you need? What the h&^$ is WPI? Check out my e-book!


Pros of a Simple Loom


Cheap!


You can use any frame you already have to weave on and you do not need to do anything special to it. Head down to a thrift store and buy some old picture frames. Take the glass out and voila! Frame loom!

Using picture frames as your loom can be a great EXTRA portable option since they are small and lightweight. They can easily fit in your bag to take with you on vacation or just to your backyard.

If you are looking for something of a more specific size, you can not go wrong with taking canvas stretcher bars and creating your frame from them. (THESE are the ones I use)

The stretcher bars are bought piece by piece which can allow for more unique sizes. For example – try making a  6”x24” frame if you want a loom that is long and skinny. It would be hard to find a pre-made frame that size. They are really inexpensive because they are meant to be covered up by canvas for painting. If you like this option but want something more attractive you can always decorate your simple frame loom to your liking later on.


simple frame loom

Options!


Simple looms are incredibly versatile since you are not confined to any specific warp sett. The nature of the simple frame is that it doesn’t have any notches or pins to set your warp. The same frame can be used for 5 EPI, 8 EPI, and 14 EPI weaving! Having options means you can not only change everything up between weavings, but also within the same weaving! (Learn about EPI HERE)

Due to the versatility of the simple frame loom you can play with your EPI’s with no extra effort. For example, there is a weaving technique called crammed and spaced where you purposefully have more than one EPI within the same weaving. Using a simple loom helps give you the flexibility to experiment with techniques like this.

If you do not want to be stuck using the same warp sett for all of your weavings this can be a better option than owning multiple frame looms.

Not that that is a bad option. It depends on how much room you have in your studio.



Display!


Choosing to use a plain frame (or a decorative one!) gives you the option to not only use the frame as a tool, but also as a way to display the weaving. This isn’t something that I do all the time – but admittedly it is really great option to have.

I have a stockpile of frames that I use for this reason…

Or maybe I just like buying picture frames.

I am always picking them up from clearance sections and while on sale. One thing to keep in mind when you use picture frames – you will have an excess of glass to deal with. Let me know in the comments if you have an idea what to do with a bunch of glass…

There are a few ways to set up a weaving so that it can stay on the frame (2 selvedge warping is a good one!) If you do not like one option for warping your frame – then just try another!

Here is a pro within a pro: if you use your frame as the display method, when you are finished weaving – it is pretty much done! You do not have to do anything to the warp to finish it up and since it will stay under tension forever- you have to do very little (if anything) to the weft tails.


simple frame loom

Cons of a simple loom


Well… nothing is perfect.


Math


Anytime you are setting up a weaving you will probably have to do a little bit of math. This goes for simple looms, commercial looms, floor looms, and basically any loom you can imagine. You ca not escape the math completely.

Sorry.

The amount of math you have to do, though, depends on a few things.

If you are ordering a specific yarn for your warp then you may have to figure out exactly how much to purchase regardless of the type of loom you use. This goes for general convenience and integrity of the color. It is very annoying to be halfway through setting up your loom when you run out of yarn. Then you have to order it and wait for it to ship. All the while – you could have been weaving.

If your yarn is dyed than it is important to try to buy all of your yarn at one time to avoid any differences in dye lots. I have made this mistake before. I bought the exact same color – but when it came in it was a little bit lighter.

You live, you learn.

A simple frame loom requires figuring out your total warp ends. (Click on that link for how to plan your weaving!) This is a simple equation, but an equation none-the-less. It is determined by the EPI that you choose, the size of the weaving, and your warping method.

A commercial loom, on the other hand, will have a specific EPI that it is set for. In that case you would only need to know the width of the weaving you want to create.

Don’t worry – it’s not like this ↓



Spacing


Due to the fact that there are no nails or notches in your frame, the warp is a lot more likely to move. Anytime your warp moves, there is a chance that you could alter your EPI. Suddenly you may have 5 EPI on one side of your weaving and 7 EPI on the other. That’s a problem unless you planned it that way.

During the first inch or so, you can still fix your warp spacing. After that? It is mostly set. Using a simple frame loom requires a bit more patience to create and maintain even spacing – but it is totally doable! If you do not want to deal with that though, then a commercial loom is less finicky.

There are some tricks to help maintain even spacing on your simple loom that I cover HERE!


No Heddle Bar


First, what the H*** is a heddle bar?

A heddle bar is a tool that you can use to create an opening (shed) in your weaving. Usually, the bar would raise every other warp so that you can eliminate the need to do the “over, under” motion. It allows for faster and simpler weaving.

The creation of the shed allows you to use a shuttle, butterfly, or a bobbin instead of just a long piece of yarn.

This is a big advantage in the commercial loom column if you do no like weaving your tails back in. With the ability to use one of these tools you won’t have to change out your yarn as much. Every time you change your yarn you create a new tail you will have to deal with when you are done. This advantage is most notable if you are using a lot of one color. If you are weaving imagery and using a lot of different colors anyway, it might not be as big a deal.

While it is possible to make a heddle bar if you really want one for your simple frame loom, that takes extra time and effort. Most commercial frame looms have a heddle bar already included.



The best weaving loom for beginners


Beginner weavers need something that is simple, inexpensive, and versatile.

You do not want to spend a ton of money if you do not know that weaving is right for you – and I would not want you to!

So finding a weaving loom that helps you to get weaving sooner and explore weaving in many of its forms is essential for new weavers! If you are a more advanced weaver, and you are looking for something to add to your studio then there really is no reason not to get a simple frame loom as well. Seriously, what are you waiting for?

This is the loom everyone should have in their studio!

Looking to add more looms and not sure how to find ones that work together? Read this!


With all of that – there is no reason you can not have more than one kind of loom.

More looms = more fun!

So why do I stick with a simple frame loom? The pros just outweigh the cons to me. The biggest one that I do no want to give up?

The ability to improvise.

When it comes down to it. I am not a planner.

Do you have a favorite kind of frame loom? Let me know!


-Nicole


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