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What is the Difference Between a Rigid Heddle Loom and a Table Loom?

  • 5 min read
explaining the difference between a rigid heddle and table loom
Rigid Heddle Loom vs. Table Loom

The table loom and rigid heddle loom are two of the best weaving looms for people who are looking to get started weaving. These compact and easy-to-use looms are similar in some ways, but they have notable differences that might affect your decision in choosing the weaving loom right for you.

This article will explain the characteristics, features, and advantages of both table looms and rigid heddle looms.

What is a Rigid Heddle Loom?

A rigid heddle loom is an excellent introduction to new techniques for someone with no experience in weaving, but it also offers an opportunity to try out new techniques. In addition, it is one of the easiest looms to start with, and some rigid heddle looms for sale don't require any assembly and can be used right out of the box.

Schacht Cricket - rigid heddle weaving loom
Schacht Cricket - rigid heddle weaving loom

How Do Rigid Heddle Looms Work?

A rigid heddle loom only has two shafts and creates a woven pattern by raising and lowering the rigid heddle. The heddle is firm and of a set size; different sizes are available to suit your yarn choice.

Top 5 Reasons to Love a Rigid Heddle Loom

  1. Rigid heddle looms are portable, especially the Ashford Knitters Loom and Schacht Cricket Loom. You can carry them around anywhere, and they'll fit easily inside your car. Foldable rigid heddle looms also make storage more convenient, especially if you don't have a lot of space in your home or studio.
  2. You can finish your projects faster with direct warping. There is no need to spend hours winding your warp and threading your heddles before you start weaving.
  3. Weave where and when you want, great portability.
  4. These small looms are great for weavers of all ages. Even kids can learn how to weave on a rigid heddle loom.
  5. Rigid heddle looms are affordable entry-level looms. When you are just starting, it's a great option because it is not too expensive, but at the same time, it will give you a bang for your buck.

What Can I Weave on a Rigid Heddle Loom?

With a rigid heddle loom, you can weave garments like scarves and shawls and a variety of homewares like dishtowels and placements, depending on the size of your loom. The popular Ashford Rigid Heddle looms come in 40cm, 60cm, 80cm, and 120cm weaving width options.

Best Rigid Heddle Looms for Sale

  1. Ashford SampleIt Loom
  2. Ashford Knitters Loom
  3. Ashford Rigid Heddle
  4. Schacht Cricket

What is a Table Loom?

Unlike rigid heddle looms, table looms can have four shafts, eight shafts, sixteen shafts, or more. These multi-shaft looms differ from rigid heddle looms because the shafts move up and down instead of remaining rigid with threads are threaded through individual heddles allowing flexibility of design.

A table loom is also an excellent choice for learning to weave if you don't find yourself quite ready to get a floor loom yet.

Ashford table loom - Kaie 8 shaft weaving loom
Ashford Katie 8 Shaft Table Loom

How Do Table Looms Work?

Table looms are available in a variety of weaving widths. This means there are plenty of different projects you can do with them. Although it can be a bit more complex to warp on a table loom, it's definitely worth trying if you want to polish your weaving skills. Also, with this type of loom, you'll find more variety in the patterns you can weave due to its multiple shaft design.

Top 5 Reasons to Love a Table Loom

  1. Most table looms are portable. You can easily move them around in your home or take them to weaving workshops. As these looms are generally smaller in size, they don't take up much space in your home or studio.
  2. There are plenty of table loom options in the market, with different numbers of shafts, different weaving widths, and so on. You can always find one that will suit your needs.
  3. With a table loom, you have the ability to weave any pattern your shafts allow without needing to change a tie-up or thinking about having enough treadles.
  4. There are many accessories available for table looms. These will help your weaving journey easier, faster, and more productive. For example, you can attach a loom stand and add treadles to your table loom so that you can weave faster and more comfortably.
  5. Table looms are more affordable than floor looms and great for beginners. At the same time, these looms will allow fibre artists to weave more complicated projects as they progress their skills.

What Can I Weave on a Table Loom?

Table looms are ideal for weaving smaller projects with complex weaving drafts, such as fabrics for clothing, towels, cowls, scarves, napkins, table linens, and various other home textiles. Although the table loom requires more tools and skill to assemble, it has a wider range of weaving patterns that are not possible on a rigid heddle loom.

If you are planning to move on to a floor loom in the future, a table loom is a great option to start with.

Best Table Looms for Sale

  1. Louet Erica
  2. Louet Jane
  3. Ashford Table Looms
  4. Glimakra Victoria

Table Loom vs Rigid Heddle Loom: Which Loom is Better for Beginners?

Two of the most important factors that will help you decide which loom to get when you're first getting into weaving are the price and the simplicity of the loom. In most cases, rigid heddle looms are more straightforward and more inexpensive than table looms. However, there are also other things that you need to know.

Here's a quick list of pros and cons for rigid heddle looms and table looms.

Rigid Heddle Loom

Pros

  • Portable and lightweight
  • It can be attached to a stand or placed on top of a table
  • Easy to detach from the stand
  • Easy to learn and comfortable to use
  • Fast warping
  • It doesn't require the use of a warping board
  • Loom waste is very minimal
  • Much cheaper than most looms

Cons

  • Unable to weave patterns like multiple shaft looms
  • Heddle sizes are limited
  • More suited to thicker yarns
  • Limited because of having only two shafts, but with pick-up sticks, additional heddles, and other accessories, it can be a versatile loom that can make more complex patterns.

Table Loom

Pros

  • Can create intricate patterns and detailed combinations
  • It can be attached to a stand or placed on top of a table
  • Portable and lightweight (depending on the size)
  • Easy-to-use tabletop loom
  • Has similarities to floor looms in terms of functions and features
  • It opens up plenty of weaving possibilities
  • More economical than a floor loom

Cons

  • Must be placed on a solid and sturdy table
  • Can have a smaller shed compared to rigid heddle loom
  • More yarn waste compared to weaving on a rigid heddle loom
  • It takes longer to warp and requires the use of a warping board/mill

With this list of pros and cons, hopefully, you now have a better idea of which loom is the right one to help kickstart your weaving adventures.

Where to Find Various Weaving Looms

Thread Collective offers a wide range of weaving looms for weavers of all skill levels. If you have already decided on what type of loom to get, feel free to choose from our collection of rigid heddle looms and table looms.

As you start to dive deeper into the weaving world, you can also check out our collection of frame and tapestry looms, floor looms, and Dobby looms, as well as weaving loom supplies and accessories to make your weaving journey even more fun and productive!

If you are still needing some guidance in finding the right loom for you, reach me here and we can schedule a time to chat.

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