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Know the Difference: Rigid Heddle Looms, Knitters Looms, and SampleIt Looms

  • 6 min read
Rigid Heddle Loom, SampleIt Loom, and Knitters Loom
Rigid Heddle Loom, SampleIt Loom, and Knitters Loom (Images from Ashford)

Ashford offers a range of beautifully designed rigid heddle looms for weavers of all levels. In fact, these rigid heddle looms are highly regarded by textile artists all over the world, especially here in Australia. However, there has always been some confusion over the years about the differences between the Rigid Heddle, Knitters Loom,and SampleIt looms.

So, what is the difference between these looms? Is the Knitters Loom a rigid heddle loom just like the SampleIt Loom, or is it a different category by itself?

Ashford introduced the Knitters Loom to the market in 2015 with the goal of encouraging knitters to utilise their collection of yarns in a new way. This wonderful loom has changed the concept that you can only weave using specific weaving yarns.

Basically, the Knitters Loom is a rigid heddle loom in terms of functionality. In this article, we will discuss the similarities and differences between the Ashford rigid heddle looms, as well as how to choose the right one for you if you are a beginner who wants to explore rigid heddle weaving.

What Do the Rigid Heddle Loom, SampleIt Loom, and Knitters Loom Have in Common?

All three of these looms have a rigid heddle design. A rigid heddle is a weaving accessory that simplifies the weaving process, making it accessible to beginners and experienced weavers alike. It consists of a frame with slots and holes through which warp threads are threaded, allowing for the raising and lowering of warp threads to create a shed for weaving.

To give you a clearer understanding of these looms, here are the functions that they share:

  • All three looms are warped and woven in the same way.
  • All three looms come with a 7.5 dpi reed. To learn more about reed sizes, read this article.
  • You can use a rigid heddle loom stand for all of them. Different sizes of loom stands are available for the different sizes of the Rigid Heddle Loom, SampleIt Loom, and Knitters Loom.
  • You can use Vari Dent Weaving Reeds for all three looms.
  • They are all well-designed, super functional rigid heddle looms.
  • All three looms now have a built-in second heddle option. This means you could add additional heddles to expand your weaving.
  • They are all straightforward and easy to use.
  • The Rigid Heddle Loom, SampleIt Loom, and Knitters Loom are all affordable and portable looms that are suitable for beginner weavers.

What are the Differences Between the Rigid Heddle Loom, SampleIt Loom, and the Knitters Loom?

The Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom range is the brand's full-size line of rigid heddle looms and has the most accessories available. The other two have slightly different features that might affect your decision in choosing your rigid heddle loom. Let’s compare these rigid heddle looms by Ashford.

1. The three looms have different weaving widths available.

  • Rigid Heddle Loom: 40cm (16″), 60cm (24″), 80cm (32″), and 120cm (48″).
  • SampleIt Loom: 25cm (10″) and 40cm (16″).
  • Knitters Loom: 30cm (12″), 50cm (20″), and 70cm (28″).

2. The SampleIt Loom has the smaller, lighter and more compact varieties. The depth of the loom being the most obvious difference when comparing the looms side by side. This compact depth means you have a shorter area in which to weave, which is overcome simply by advancing your warp more frequently. This is the lowest-priced of the three models making it one of the more financially accessible looms available. It is ideal for beginners planning on weaving narrower projects or for those wanting to experiment with new techniques or sample yarn. It is also an excellent choice for the classroom.

3. The Knitters Loom is capable of folding in half, even with a weaving in progress on it. This makes it exceptionally portable and another wonderful option for travellers, craft groups and workshop attendees. It comes assembled with its own carry bag and features a smooth lacquered finish, while the SampleIt and Rigid Heddle Loom come unassembled with a natural finish.

5. The Rigid Heddle Loom is made of sturdier timber and does not fold. It is an especially good option for those who weave under higher tensions such is required when working with yarns like cotton or linen. It is also the best choice for those with a permanent space to set up in, those who wish to weave many wider projects or those who require additional accessories made exclusively for the Rigid Heddle Loom.

Accessories for the Ashford Rigid Heddle Looms

When you buy an Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom, Knitters Loom, or SampleIt Loom, you'll receive the essential weaving accessories in the kit so that you can start weaving right away... Just add yarn!

Here are the accessories you can find in each of them:

Rigid Heddle Loom

The Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom range comes with a 7.5dpi (30/10cm) reed, two natural shuttles, a threading hook, a warping peg and clamp, ten warping sticks (cardboard), and a step-by-step instruction booklet.

Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom - Thread Collective Australia
Rigid Heddle Loom (Photographer: Ashford Handicrafts Ltd)

Optional accessories for the Rigid Heddle Loom (not included with the kit) are the following:

Knitters Loom

The Ashford Knitters Loom comes with a 7.5dpi (30/10cm) reed, two lacquered shuttles, a threading hook, a warping peg and clamp, a step-by-step instruction booklet, built-in second heddle option and a padded carry bag.

Ashford Knitters Loom - Thread Collective Australia
Knitters Loom (Photographer: Ashford Handicrafts Ltd)

Optional accessories for the Knitters Loom (not included with the kit) are the following:

SampleIt Loom

The Ashford SampleIt rigid heddle loom comes with a 7.5dpi (30/10cm) reed, two natural shuttles, a threading hook, a warping peg and clamp, ten warping sticks (cardboard) and a step-by-step instruction booklet.

Ashford SampleIt Loom - Thread Collective Australia
SampleIt Loom (Photographer: Ashford Handicrafts Ltd)

Optional accessories for the SampleIt Loom (not included with the kit) are the following:

How to Choose the Right Rigid Heddle Loom

Now that you know the similarities and differences between the Rigid Heddle Loom, SampleIt Loom, and Knitters Loom, you might still be a little unsure of which loom is right for you.

While it all comes down to personal preference, you might like to ask yourself the following questions to assist you in reaching your final decision.

1. What weaving width do you prefer?

As mentioned in the differences between the three Ashford looms, they come in different weaving widths. What kind of projects are you looking to weave often? If you're looking to weave larger pieces on your loom, such as throw blankets, cushions, fabric for garments or blanket scarves, the 80cm or 120cm Rigid Heddle loom might suit you best. If you like to weave narrower projects such as wall hangings, coasters, scarves or towels, the SampleIt or Knitters Looms may suit you best.

2. Which loom is best suited to your budget?

These looms all have different price ranges depending on their size. There is some overlap between choices, which may still make the decision difficult for some, but it may make the decision easier for others.

The price ranges for the Ashford rigid heddle looms are the following:

  • Knitters Loom: 369 to 479 AUD
  • Rigid Heddle Loom: 279 to 460 AUD
  • SampleIt Loom: 199 to 229 AUD

3. How portable does your loom need to be?

If you intend to travel or attend craft groups or simply like to move about your home often as you weave you might like to consider how transportable the loom is.

The SampleIt Loom is so compact that you can put it inside a tote bag and take it wherever you go. The Knitters Loom can be folded up neatly, even with your weaving in place and can also fit in a bag, included with purchase, to make transporting it easy.

The full-size Rigid Heddle Loom, on the other hand, is larger, heavier and not foldable. This makes it the least portable option of these three looms. Despite this, it is still possible to travel with and relatively easy to move about.

Selecting Yarn and Reeds for Your Rigid Heddle Loom

Reeds for the Ashford Rigid Heddle, Knitters Loom, and SampleIt Loom
Rigid Heddle Reeds (Photographer: Ashford Handicrafts Ltd)

As previously mentioned, your rigid heddle loom kit will always come with one reed. As your weaving journey advances, you'll likely want to try experimenting with different textures by using different types of yarn on your weaving projects. If you are interested in learning more, read about how to select yarn and reeds for your rigid heddle loom in our blog.

Ready to Start Weaving?

We hope that this guide was able to help you know the differences and similarities between the Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom, Knitters Loom, and SampleIt Loom. Should you feel ready to purchase the loom of your choice, feel free to browse Thread Collective's collection of Rigid Heddle, Knitters Loom, and SampleIt Loom for sale and get started weaving soon!

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