Having the right equipment and tools for the job is important when you are creating a work of art. When it comes to weaving, the first thing you need to have is a weaving loom.
A floor weaving loom is a loom that allows you to weave functional pieces of art, from large tapestries, cozy blankets, homewares and curtains. Floor looms come in a range of sizes, from compact foldable looms, like the Schacht Wolf Pup, to extremely wide rug looms that can be 150cm wide or larger. One of the popular entry-level looms is Ashford’s jack weaving loom.
The floor weaving loom sits independently on the floor, comes with treadles that make the weaving process faster and easier on the body.
Choosing the best type of floor weaving loom involves evaluating the loom's capabilities, as well as considering your personal preferences and comfort. While tapestry can indeed be woven on a floor loom, this is very specialised, and most people use floor looms to weave clothing, homewares, and yardage.
How to Choose your First Floor Loom
Floor loomsare the most versatile weaving equipment that can produce a wide range of tapestries and woven textiles. Traditionally, these were used in workshops by experienced weavers. Truth is, many people now are still intimidated by the idea of weaving on a floor loom. However, it's possible to weave on a floor loom even if you are a beginner to the craft.
The first thing you need to know when choosing your very first floor loom is that there are many options available and it can be overwhelming to choose the loom that is right for you. In the sections below we will outline some of the main things to consider. If you are still unsure, contact us for an individual consultation.
What and How Often Do You Want to Weave?
Some important things to consider when deciding on a weaving loom is figuring out how often, and what kind of projects you want to weave. For example, floor looms are used for weaving wider and longer fabric, complex designs, heavy items like carpets and rugs, and especially production work.
A floor loom will be a perfect choice if your main goal is to weave large items like rugs, tapestries, heavy blankets, and larger wall hangings. Meanwhile, if you want to weave a double weave, you’ll have to know if the loom allows for the addition of a double back beam.
Floor looms are also ideal if you’re looking for a loom that can last for a long time, even after many weaving sessions. Just make sure to keep your floor loom well-maintained by checking it regularly and replacing any damaged parts as soon as possible.
Below, we will go through some basic considerations in selecting your first floor loom.
The Basic Considerations in Choosing a Floor Loom
The main consideration when selecting the size of a weaving loom is the space you have available in your home or studio. Are you planning on weaving in one set room or do you want the flexibility to move your loom from space to space? If you are wanting to move your loom between areas of your house, then choosing a loom that can fold and be easily lifted becomes important. A weaving loom like the Schacht Baby Wolf also has the option of adding casters to the legs, making moving your loom around your room quick and easy.
Selecting a Width
Generally the loom width you select will be based on the widest weavings you intend to weave. There are options of weaving double-width cloth but this is not generally a beginning technique.
Weight of a Loom
There is a huge variety of weaving looms currently on the market. There are many lightweight and portable floor loom options, along with more traditional larger and heavyweight frames. If you are looking to weave rugs, it would be important to choose a heavier loom that will not move around due to the heavy beating of rug making.
Number of Shafts
Floor rooms come with multiple shafts that are controlled by treadles. Most entry-level floor looms come with eight shafts however floor rooms are available with 4 to 40 shafts which offer more weaving possibilities. Some loom such as the Schacht Might Wolf or Louet Spring, offer the opportunity to start with a smaller number of shops and have addon shaft kits available as your experience grows.
There is a range of accessories available for most weaving looms. Some of the most common accessories that are added to floor looms include sectional warp kits, second warp beams, weaving benches, and shelf or bench bags for handy storage. While many of these accessories are optional extras, it is important when choosing your loom to know whether you want these accessories to be compatible with the loom in the future.
What accessories should you get when purchasing your first loom? This is a question that commonly gets asked and the main items would be additional heddles, additional reeds, and a comfortable weaving bench.
Although determining your budget can sometimes be challenging, it is important to create a realistic estimate of how much money you are willing to spend on a floor loom. Sometimes you will be lucky and find your dream loom secondhand but many times purchasing new will ensure you get the weaving loom that is right for you.
In the post-Covid era, the wait time for purchasing a new weaving loom is increasing. If you are considering upgrading or purchasing your first loom it's important to have an understanding of what the wait times are for each loom that you are considering. At Thread Collective, layby is available during the lead times to assist with your purchase.
What’s in the Box?
Almost all new weaving looms come with stainless steel weaving reeds, cross sticks, warp sticks, and some provide weaving shuttles and raddles. In the section below we discuss the items that you need to get your first warp on the loom and get weaving.
Weaving Supplies, Tools, and Accessories Used in Floor Loom Weaving
There are many types of yarn that can be used in weaving, from natural fibre to synthetic yarns. Natural fibres include plant yarns, such as cotton, bamboo, hemp, and linen, which are known for being eco-friendly, absorbent, and durable; and yarns made from animal fibre, such as wool, cashmere, mohair, and silk. When selecting a warp yarn I always recommend starting with cotton as it provides strength yet still has a little give. Weft yarns can be almost anything.
A weaving shuttle is a weaving loom accessory used to carry the weft back and forth through the warp. Boat shuttles, which come in different sizes and may have an open or closed bottom, are often used with floor looms that feature a raise to guide the shuttle from one edge of the weaving to the other.
Bobbins, usually made of wood, plastic or metal, are used with the boat shuttle to make a thread path for weaving. A bobbin spins inside the shuttle and releases yarn through the middle.
Warping boards and warping mills are used for measuring the warp. This is important for all weaving projects. It's one of the first steps you need to do when you are setting up to weave on your floor loom. If you are planning to sectionally warp your weaving loom you will need a measuring device (warping wheel or spool rack), counter and tension box.
Raddles help in keeping the warp evenly spaced as it is wound onto the warp beam. These weaving loom accessories can be attached to either a back beam or the shuttle race of the beater. Some brands such as the Schacht Wolf floor loom has an oval back beam, and specifically designed raddle, other brands such as Louet have built-in raddles attached to the top of the castle.
Sectional warp beams, which are used in lieu of a warping board or warping mill, are helpful when you are weaving with fine yarns. These will allow you to beam long and wide warp with very little assistance.
Weaving on a floor loom would always be more comfortable when you are sitting on a weaving bench. There are a lot of loom benches for sale from different brands, and there are even adjustable options that offer a more comfortable weaving experience.
When you're just getting started with floor loom weaving, you'd want to have resources at hand. Weaving books will provide both inspiration and knowledge for you to be able to successfully and efficiently weave beautiful pieces on your loom.
There are floor loom accessories that you may or may not use, depending on your personal preference as a weaver or on the requirement of your project. Some of the optional extras that you can purchase to make your weaving journey more enjoyable include weaving temples, which are designed to help weavers keep the selvedges straight; warp thread weights, which are used to hold floating selvedges or supplementary warp threads under tension; and bobbin winders.
How to Know if a Floor Loom the Right Loom for You
Floor looms are used for weaving longer and wider lengths of fabric, usually for production work, and producing more complex and intricate designs. Great quality floor looms are solid and stable, without being excessively heavy.
A floor loom could be the right loom for you if it fits your space and budget, and if you already have an idea on what to weave on it.
If you have had experience weaving on a table loom, you'll find that working on a floor loom is much faster and more comfortable.
Some of the best floor loom offerings in the market include the ones from Ashford, Louet, AVL, Glimakra, Schacht, and Leclerc.
Are you Ready to Buy Your First Floor Loom?
Is your budget or space ready to welcome a new floor loom into your home or studio? It's always best to do some research before deciding on which floor loom to buy. Different floor looms from different brands may vary in a number of features. Weaving specialty stores like Thread Collective offers a wide range of floor looms, as well as weaving loom accessories that will help make your weaving journey much more enjoyable and productive.