Last Updated on February 15, 2023 by Cheryl Moreo
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 your weaving experience. But, finding the best loom for you can be a challenging and confusing job.
Because there are so many rigid heddle looms, I thought I would outline some differences between 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 highlight the additions and how they facilitate or hamper the weaving.
Buyer’s Guide to Rigid Heddle Looms
- Buyer’s Guide to Rigid Heddle Looms
- Compare Rigid Heddle Looms
- What Do I Use
- Other Articles on Rigid Heddle Looms
- Visit My Recommendations Crafts Page
Things to Consider Before You Buy
- Where/how do you plan to weave? On a tabletop, the loom is 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 a 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 hang in the warp? Can the heddle be set on blocks/slots for the up shed and hook below for the down shed?
- Regarding size, you want a loom that can comfortably allows you to 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 does the loom have in front of the heddle? 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. You need to advance your warp if you can’t comfortably pass your shuttle through the shed and still make an arc with your weft. 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
In this Buyer’s Guide to Rigid Heddle Looms, I reviewed rigid heddle looms that I own and used when I taught weaving. I sold all of these brands and other brands in my retail store. This review only includes the brands that, I feel, perform the best and are comfortable to use. Additionally, I am not addressing what tools that come with the looms. Indeed, some looms come with more accessories. However, 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.
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Brands of Rigid Heddle Looms
Ashford Handicrafts is based in Ashburton, New Zealand. 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 very economical and are a step above the Beka loom in amenities.
As I discussed 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 an 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.
These looms are in the mid-price range.
Ashford has weaving tutorials.
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 7.5 dpi (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 six sizes of heddles, including a variable dent one, are 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 drilled holes for indirect warping, but without the pegs. Consequently, the pegs are an optional purchase. Six sizes of heddles, including a variable dent one, are available. A stand is optional.
My first rigid heddle loom was a Beka SG. Subsequently, Beka has added more rigid heddle looms and a folding rigid heddle loom to the mix. Beka is the most economical bare-bones loom. The frame is Danish Oil finished Cherry wood. Beka is based in St. Paul, Minnesota.
This is a good loom for the beginner and the advanced weaver. Remember, this is a very lightweight loom.
The SG 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 simultaneously. 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. Unfortunately, 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, have both front and back beams, have an excellent actual weaving area in front of the heddle, great heddle blocks, and sturdy stands. So when I am not weaving, I can drop the loom down in the stand and set it out of the way. These looms are manufactured in Boulder, Colorado.
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 also available for purchase. Also, a variable reed allows different types 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 has four widths: 15″, 20″, 25″, or 30″. In addition, a variable reed is 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 compare the above looms at once.
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. 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.
After reading this Buyer’s Guide to Rigid Heddle Looms, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
Other Articles on Rigid Heddle Looms
If you liked this Buyer’s Guide to Rigid Heddle Looms, you should check out the following weaving articles:
Weaving Looms-Which One is Right for You
Rigid Heddle Loom Comparison-Ashford and Schacht
My Favorite Rigid Heddle Loom Books
Visit My Recommendations Crafts Page
This page has my favorite suppliers of looms and crafting supplies.
Find Rigid Heddle Loom patterns.
What to look for when buying a used rigid heddle loom?
If you buy a used loom, check the wood for cracks and whether 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 newer features/accessories are incompatible with older looms.
What Is the best width for a beginner?
If you 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 over 25 inches will be intimidating and harder to move and store. However, if you want to weave scarves, then any of the smaller widths will work. Also, the rigid heddle reeds cost more for larger looms.
If 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 to $100 for each reed.
Which rigid heddle loom should I buy?
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.
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