As a beginner, understanding the different types of weaving looms and choosing the loom right for you can be quite confusing as there are so many options out there. The type of weaving loom you choose will depend on what you want to create. You may have several questions like, "What can I make from a weaving loom?" or "How big or small are the pieces that I'd want to weave?" or "Do I need a loom that's portable so I can bring it while travelling?" or "What do words like heddles, warp, and weft even mean?"
This article will help you get a better grasp of the different types of weaving looms, what you can make with them, and some examples of branded weaving looms you might want to check out.
Portable, lightweight, and minimalist, the pin loom is a great weaving loom for beginner weavers. This square loom is easy to use and doesn't require many tools at all. You'll only ever need a needle, a pair of scissors, and yarn to start weaving.
As weaving on a pin loom doesn't use much yarn, it's a great way to use up extra yarns that you can't use for bigger projects but can't bear to throw away.
Pin looms can be hand-made or purchased. One example of a small and efficient loom that allows you to weave wherever, whenever, is the Schacht Zoom Loom. With this, you can weave squares that you can later assemble into a larger piece, like a rug, scarf, or poncho, using simple techniques.
The inkle loom specialises in making braided bands that are durable and can be used for many different purposes. It requires minimal materials to get started weaving on an inkle loom. You'll only need the loom, some yarn, and a weaving shuttle.
Inkle looms, which are available in different sizes, allow you to weave narrow strips of fabric, such as bag and guitar straps, belts, shoelaces, and hatbands. But it doesn't stop there. You can even sew the narrow woven strips together and create bigger projects like bags, cushion covers, placemats, and a lot more. It can also be used for carding.
This portable loom is a great beginner's loom, but experienced weavers also use them to create complex patterns. A couple of the best options in the market are the Ashford and Schacht inkle looms.
The frame loom, which aptly looks like a picture frame, is one of the simplest types of looms. It's extremely easy to set up, offers extremely easy warping and weaving, and is also more affordable than the more complex weaving loom types. It's a great tool to work with as you begin your journey in the fibre world.
There are different frame loom sizes to choose from, just like with the Louet Lisa Loom, which comes in small, medium, large, and extra-large. Ashford also offers small and large weaving frame loom options. Feel free to choose which one you think will work best for you.
A tapestry loom is used to weave tapestries of many shapes and sizes. As there are different loom sizes available, there are also a wide variety of projects you can do with them, from jewellery to purses to table runners to rugs, and many more.
Some tapestry looms allow you to change the sheds and others don't. What is a shed, you ask? It's the space between the raised and lowered warps on a loom. Sheds are formed using heddles, which are looped wires or cords in a loom, and heddle bars, which are bars with grooves to separate the threads in your loom.
If the weaver has control over the shed, it can significantly speed up the weaving process. However, many people weave everything by picking the shed. The Mirrix tapestry and bead looms, which are available in various sizes, can be used with or without a shedding device. While it's not required for every project, shedding devices can be beneficial for a lot of them.
Rigid Heddle Loom
The rigid heddle looms is a compact, portable loom that is great for both newcomers wanting to try basic weaving styles and experienced weavers looking to try new techniques. The heddles are typically fixed in place, and you'd have to move them as you're weaving. This loom type is easy to use and easy to warp as it has a direct warping system.
Just so you know, a warp refers to the threads running the length of the loom across which threads are woven.
With a rigid heddle loom, you can create dishtowels, shawls, scarves, wall hangings, fabric for clothing, and a range of woven homewares, depending on what size of loom you have. The popular Ashford Rigid Heddle looms come in 40cm, 60cm, 80cm, and 120cm options.
Table looms are portable weaving looms you can take to workshops, vacations, or simply transfer from one spot to another within your home or studio. These are available in a variety of weaving widths, which means there's a lot of different projects you can do with them.
What makes a table loom different from a rigid heddle loom is that instead of having a rigid heddle reed with slots and eyes that the warp threads go through, it features individual heddles that the warp thread goes through on different shafts.
It's a bit more complex to warp on a table loom, but it's worth learning if you want to polish your weaving skills. With a table loom, there's also more variety in the patterns that you can weave. You'll have more control over patterns.
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. You also have the option to add treadles to your table loom so that you can weave faster and more comfortably.
A floor loom is basically like a table loom, but it sits on the floor and comes with treadles. This feature allows you to weave faster as you're using your feet to operate the shafts, freeing up your arms of the burden and allowing them to focus on throwing the shuttle.
This freestanding loom type, which generally has either four or eight shafts, is an ideal choice if you're looking to weave longer or wider pieces of fabric, such as rugs and home linens.
There are several floor loom types available in the market today, such as the jack loom, counter-march loom, and counter-balance loom. Some of the best offerings are from Ashford, Louet, Schacht, AVL, and Gilmakra.
Mechanical Dobby Loom
A mechanical dobby loom is generally a type of floor loom that has a dobby mechanism. A dobby is a box in which you can pre-program your weaving draft so that you wouldn't have to use the treadles to weave.
This convenient loom lets you select the combination of harnesses for every shed opening you want to make. The huge advantage of using this loom is that it minimizes the effort involved in making multiple tie-ups to the treadle positioned underneath a loom. With a mechanical dobby loom, you're weaving journey will be a lot more comfortable and productive.
Additionally, there's also a table loom that comes with a dobby system. This is the Louet Magic Dobby loom.
Electronic Dobby Loom
In the electronic dobby loom, a computer controls the pattern. Instead of the mechanical dobby chain making the patterns, this one has computer-controlled shaft selection. You will be able to construct unlimited shaft sequences on the computer rather than building a mechanical dobby chain.
It is quite an expensive type of loom, but it makes weaving so much easier with endless project opportunities. No more setting up pegs. You'll most likely end up finishing up your weaving projects faster too.
Invented by Joseph Jacquard in 1801, the Jacquard loom is a device incorporated into special tapestry looms, allowing each individual thread to be manipulated. Many years ago, the process involved using a chain of punch cards to instruct the loom on what patterns to make. The modern looms today no longer use punch cards. Instead, digital scanners are being used to create patterns of any image, instructing the loom to make a textile version of the image.
Because of this wonderful feature, the Jacquard loom offers the most flexibility in terms of weaving design, giving you the ability to weave fabrics with intricate patterns, such as in tapestry, damask, brocade, and many more.
Are You Ready to Purchase Your First Loom?
If you're still not sure about what weaving loom type will suit you, please don't hesitate to contact us! We will be happy to answer all of your questions and guide you through the process of selecting the perfect weaving loom for you. Welcome to the world of weaving and “Weave Your Way”!