Table looms are popular among beginners and experienced weavers alike because they are portable, versatile, and easy to use. Many table looms being offered in the market have the ability to fold flat for easy transport. Even with your weaving still in place, you can easily take your table loom to workshops or guild meetings without ruining your work.
Tabletop weaving looms are wonderful for weaving more complex patterns or using finer warp threads. These are great for weaving newcomers who want to learn to weave patterns without having to invest in a lot of equipment. They generally have between 4 and 8 shafts however as we will discuss later, there are many other options available.
This blog post will give you an overview of the considerations when choosing a table loom and highlight the various range that is available on the market today.
What is a Table Loom?
A table loom is a weaving loom that is often placed on a table or attached to a loom stand as you weave. Table looms are operated by hand controlled leavers which open and close the shed.
A table loom makes it easier for beginners to learn the craft of weaving, while also providing an opportunity for more experienced weavers to improve their skills and sample without tying up their floor looms.
This type of weaving loom lets you create a wide range of woven items with its multiple shafts, and are less of an investment when compared to floor looms. Being smaller in size, table looms can be stored more easily when not in use.
Some table looms can be fitted with accessories to expand your weaving options, have stands and treadle kits available or could even be controlled by a computer dobby.
Considerations in Choosing a Table Loom
Weaving looms are available in a wide range of sizes and styles. Knowing your budget helps narrow things down. A table loom is a good way to get started with patterned weaving. Table looms are fun to weave on and there are many different options available to suit different budgets.
A table loom will cost anywhere between $665 to $2000+, depending on shafts, width and accessories.
Space and Convenience
As long as you have enough table space, then you can have a table loom in your home. A table loom can be placed anywhere with a flat surface and sturdy foundation, it’s portable so once you’re done it can be moved for convenience. You can also opt to attach your table loom to a loom stand; by attaching it to a stand you can weave where you want without being restricted to a table location. Want to weave outside under the trees? A table loom and stand combo would be ideal.
You will need to consider the type of project that you plan to make when choosing a table loom that is right for you. Table looms have multiple shaft options and different weaving widths, you'll have to have a clear view of what you want to achieve with your loom before you buy one.
Consider if you want a loom for portability, for wider projects or for sampling complex patterns or colourways.
Types of Table Looms
Table looms are generally smaller compared to floor looms but offer options of multiple shaft weaving, opening up the possibility of complex patterns and colour variation. There is a variety of table looms in the market with multiple shafts and different features.
2 Shaft Table Loom
A two-shaft table loom is an alternative to a rigid heddle loom. It is easy to operate and offers even warp tension. An example of a two-shaft table loom is the Louet Erica loom, which is available in 30cm and 50cm weaving widths, and comes with a built-in raddle. The Louet Erica can be upgraded to four shafts as your weaving experience grows. When not in use, it can be folded flat for easy storage and transport.
4 Shaft Table Loom
There are plenty of projects you can do with just four shafts! Four shaft table loom weaving welcomes opportunities to weave basic drafts including twill, lace, overshot, and many more. Examples of other four-shaft weaving looms include the Glimakra Victoria loom, Ashford 4 shaft table loom, and the NEW Ashford Brooklyn loom. These are compact, lightweight looms that offer a variety of wide weaving widths.
8-Shaft Table Loom
If you have tried weaving on a two-shaft or four-shaft loom before, it can be a big change when you start using an eight-shaft loom. However, it's definitely worth a try. The possibilities are huge with all those shafts! It can be difficult to decide what project you want to try first, but just let your creativity and imagination run free as you grow your weaving skills. Ashford is one of the trusted brands offering an 8 shaft table loom. It comes in three different weaving widths.
16-Shaft Table Loom
While most table looms feature only up to eight shafts, Ashford offers a versatile 16 shaft table loom that is designed for weavers wanting to sample and weave more complex drafts. A multi-shaft table loom of this nature enables flexible options as you are not restricted to a tie-up.
Dobby Table Loom
A dobby loom is not often thought of when discussing a table loom but I want to mention the Louet Magic Dobby Table Loom, a portable multi-shaft loom that comes with a mechanical or computer dobby interface. Your lift sequence is pre-programmed meaning you do not need to change leavers with each pick. The benefit of this loom is that the weaving speed is increased, and it can be controlled by the hand leaver or have a treadle kit attached. A dobby table loom is a great choice for complex weaving if mobility is an issue without sacrificing design outcomes.
Table Loom versus Floor Loom
If you're looking to invest in a table loom but you're also considering getting a floor loom, here are some things to consider.
Table looms are easy to set up and take apart. These are also great for beginners who want to experiment with different types of weaving and don’t want to make a large investment into a floor loom.
Weaving on a table loom can be slower as the shafts need to be changed by hand in between each weft pick. The advantage of manually selecting the leavers is that the pattern combinations can be adjusted much easier than a floor loom.
Floor looms, on the other hand, are like the larger version of table looms and have treadles attached. You set your tie-up before commencing and use your feet to raise the shafts, this does quicken the weaving speed. In order to change your pattern sets, you may need to change your tie-up.
On the downside, floor looms are harder to store and transport. Because floor looms take up more space, they're often impractical for small spaces such as apartments. Floor looms are also on the higher end when it comes to price.
If you're just starting out in the weaving world, you might not need a floor loom at all. Instead, you can try out a table loom to see how you like it. Many experience weavers use both a floor and table loom depending on the projects they are completing.
What you will need to get started
So, you have decided you want to start weaving on a table loom! I am often asked about what other tools and accessories are needed to get started. The following list of items I recommend when starting:
- Warping board or warping mill
- Heddle and reed hooks
- Boat shuttle and bobbins
- Bobbin winder
- Weaving for Beginners Book
Where to Buy a Table Loom
Thread Collective offers a range of table looms from various brands, including Ashford, Louet, Schacht, Leclerc and Glimakra. They offer table looms with 2 shafts through to 24 shafts in a variety of weaving widths and available accessories.
If you still need help choosing the right loom for you, reach out to the Thread Collective team for an individual consultation. Let’s get weaving!