The Best Tabletop Looms for All Skill Levels
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Looms come in many varieties. Among the most complex are floor looms, which are operated with the aid of foot pedals and a hand crank. Much less intimidating are table looms, which are also much smaller—many are even portable—and affordable. Despite their size, these wooden weaving machines can churn out all kinds of projects, from napkins to baby blankets. They are also pretty easy to master, and therefore a great way for beginners to get familiar with the ancient craft of weaving. Before you know it, you’ll be addicted to this rewarding and relaxing art form. Below, we review our favorites to help you choose the right one for your needs.
1. Beka Weaving Frame Loom
This deluxe loom from the fiber craft experts at Beka is at the top of our list for its functional design, elegance, and price. Lightweight, sturdy, and made of a beautiful hard maple, it assembles in minutes and folds flat for easy storage or transportation. Beginners and seasoned weavers alike can develop their skills on this loom, which features beams with a lot of strong plastic teeth—100 on each one—so you can control the tightness of your weave and accommodate the thickness of your yarn. We also like that you can adjust the angle of the stand to a position that’s most comfortable for you.
2. Ashford SampleIt Weaving Loom
From New Zealand-based textile equipment manufacturer Ashford comes this small workhorse of a loom made of stunning silver beech timber. Half the size of Beka’s loom, it is a great option for making scarves, hand towels, and table runners and also for weaving samples. Notably, this loom is built with a double heddle (the set of wires that separate and guide your warp threads), which gives you greater flexibility to use finer yarns and weave more diverse patterns. The wood structure is unfinished, so you might want to smooth it with wax or another sealant for top-notch weaving results.
3. Lavievert Multi-Craft Weaving Loom
This loom is another compact option that is built for beginning weavers—particularly young ones. Made of a relatively durable wood, it looks like a toy but is a fully functional machine capable of making wall decorations, scarves, and other small artworks. Kids and adults can use it to pick up the basics of heddle weaving, and more experienced weavers can use it to sample textures, patterns, and colors.
4. Schacht Cricket Loom
The Schacht Spindle Company is renowned for its handweaving equipment, which is carefully built, part by part, in a Colorado factory. The Cricket, one of its best sellers, is made of high-quality maple and is a great loom for both beginners and expert weavers. This 15-inch version is a great in-between size that allows you to take on a good variety of weaving projects while being small enough to take on the road. It’s incredibly user friendly, and Schacht has an online library of videos you can consult to get familiar with this loom. Consider it a small investment that will help you expand your skills, no matter where you are in your weaving journey.
5. Willowdale Weaving Loom
The second-largest loom on our list, this is a great option for those who want to try out the art of weaving but aren’t sure they are ready to invest in a pricier product. Made of a smooth beech wood, it has a near-20-inch weaving width, allowing you to create small and large artworks, from wall hangings to placemats. It assembles in minutes, although the included instructions can be a little difficult to decipher. The adjustable stand can also be a little wobbly, but all in all, this is an excellent loom for the price.
Types of Weaving Looms
Looms hold lengthwise threads taut while other threads are woven through them crosswise. There are several different types of weaving looms with different features, but at their essence all of them perform this basic task.
Once you understand the weaving process, it's easier to recognize the different types of weaving looms, you need to better understand the weaving process. The threads that are held taut on a loom are called the warp, and the threads that cross the warp are called weft.
Basics of Weaving & Looms
During the weaving process, the weaver lifts or lowers some of the warp threads to form an opening called a shed. The weaver pushes the weft through that opening using a tool called a shuttle. Except for the most basic of looms such as frame looms, all looms have some method for creating sheds. For example on shaft looms, warp threads are lifted or lowered because they are threaded through heddles that hang on frames called harnesses. When the weaver uses treadles or levers to lift or lower the harnesses, the warp threads threaded on those harnesses go up or down and a shed is created. On simpler looms (inkle looms, backstrap looms, and rigid-heddle looms), the heddles are moved up or down manually to create the shed.
A weft-carrying shuttle can be as simple as a stick wrapped with thread or can be a fairly technical flying shuttle that zooms across the weft with the quick flick of a cord. As a shuttle moves through the shed across the warp, it leaves a trail of weft. Each pass through the shed is called a pick. After each pick, the weaver changes the shed by changing which warp threads are lifted or lowered and places the pick using a part of the loom called a reed that resembles a very large comb in a frame. Placing a pick is called beating although except for the case of a heavy rug, placing is a better description.
Along with beating, the reed determines the spacing of the warp threads so that the resulting fabric is evenly woven. Backstrap and inkle looms rely on the natural tendency of threads to move together rather than spacing by a reed, and use the edge of a shuttle to beat. The rigid heddle on a rigid-heddle loom contains both the heddles and reed; it creates the shed, spaces the warp threads, and beats in the warp.
Types of Looms
The backstrap loom is a simple loom developed by ancient civilizations and it's still used in many countries today. The warp is tied around a stationary object on one end and to the weaver at the other. The weight of the weaver keeps the warp taut. A skilled weaver can produce beautiful and complex patterns using a backstrap loom.
Tapestry looms include the simplest of looms, the frame loom. Frame looms do not have any ability to create a shed, and a tapestry you create on a frame loom is constrained to the size of the frame. Some larger types of tapestry looms hold longer warps and offer methods of creating a shed.
Inkle looms are used to weave narrow strips of fabric such as straps and belts. They are portable and while they are a great beginner’s loom, experienced weavers also use them to create complex patterns.
Rigid Heddle Looms
A rigid-heddle loom is a good beginner’s loom. It also offers a lot in terms of patterning to an experienced weaver through hand manipulation of the warp and weft. With one rigid heddle, the can be used for two-shaft weaving using yarns that are generally thicker than those used by shaft looms. By adding another heddle, the weaver can use thinner yarns and weave more intricate patterns using pick-up sticks and hand manipulation techniques. Rigid-heddle looms are portable. They can be used with or without a stand.
Table looms are smaller and more portable than floor looms, but more complex than the other small looms in this list. They are made to be used on top of a table or on a stand. While you can get table loom that has more than 8 shafts, the most common types have either 4 or 8.
These are the largest of the home weaver’s looms. They’re freestanding and made for weaving larger projects. Use a floor loom to produce longer and wider pieces of fabric, home linens, accessories, and rugs. Floor looms generally have either 4 or 8 shafts but they can have more. They can also be electronically controlled by a dobby that lifts and lowers the harnesses to create sheds.
What to Consider When Shopping for a Loom
There are several questions to ask yourself before you buy a loom.
- What's your skill level? Are you an experienced weaver or are you just getting started? If you’re not sure whether or not weaving is going to stick as one of your hobbies, you may want to try a small loom first, such as a rigid-heddle, inkle, or table loom.
- What kind of fabric do you want to make? If you are interested in tapestry, then a frame loom or larger tapestry loom is an obvious choice. If you are interested in creating large pieces, a floor loom is the best choice. If you don’t really care about creating large pieces, than any of the looms will work for you. You can weave most small pieces on large looms. If you want to make elaborate weave patterns, then either a floor loom or table loom with 4 to 8 shafts is your best choice. An inkle loom is the only choice if you want to weave bands and belts.
- How much space do you have for a loom and equipment? A floor loom can have a very large footprint, whereas some of the other looms are quite small and can be put away when not in use. Floor looms and table looms also require other equipment such as warping boards and bobbin winders that the other looms don’t require.
The first consideration you want to make is your weaving skill level. Are you an experienced weaver or are you just getting started? If you’re not sure whether or not weaving is going to stick as one of your hobbies, you may want to try a small loom first. If you already know you love weaving, then you should feel more comfortable investing in a large standing loom or even a more complex table loom.
Another consideration to make is what kind of fabric you’d like to produce on your loom. What size would you like to produce? If you don’t really care about creating large pieces, maybe opt for an inkle loom or a tapestry loom. If you’re trying to create large or elaborate pieces, then you’ll definitely need a four-harness loom or a standing loom.
As a rule of thumb, if you are looking for a bit more functionality than a frame loom, inkle and rigid-heddle looms are great beginner’s looms. They are also good for children. Both looms are easy to master and fun to use. One step up from them are four-shaft table looms. They are more complex but still portable. Finally, the serious weaver should opt for a floor loom if they have the space, or an eight-shaft table loom if they don’t. These looms offer the ability to produce complex weaving patterns.
The 3 Best Table Looms Of 2021
Table looms are capable of weaving complex patterns and are suitable for use by both experienced and novice weavers. These share several functional and design capabilities of floor looms but at a small size that would typically fit a table. This optimal weaving loom is preferred for its flexibility and weaving comfort.
How to choose the best table looms? You need to first check the kind of patterns that you can weave with the loom along with the kind of functionality it offers.
The ease of usage is also crucial. What kind of fabric you would want to make also influences your decision of purchasing a table loom.
What are the best table looms? The best table looms should be durable, made of quality materials, sturdy and easy to use. You will want at least four harnesses, but for more complex weaving patterns, eight or more may be ideal. Choose one that is wide enough for a variety of your intended projects.
In this guide, you will learn how to choose the right loom depending on your skill level, the kind of pattern you want to weave, and based on the space you have for equipment while shopping for the best table loom.
Table Looms: What To Look For
Skill Level: While table Looms are suitable for both experienced and novice weavers, they can be a good choice for beginners, as projects tend to be smaller and can feel more manageable.
If you get a loom with at least 4 harnesses, you still have a lot of room to move up, however. Many weavers do a lot with just 4 harnesses; that minimum will let you work a variety of weaving patterns into your projects, giving you some flexibility.
Projects You Want to Make: Table looms are ideal for weavers who want to combine both portability and multi-shaft weaving.
They are ideal for a weaver who just wants to weave a sample or test pattern prior to scaling up to a full-size floor loom. This will save your money, materials, and time.
The Complexity of Your Project: Although you can make simple projects on table looms, they are actually suitable for and commonly used for smaller projects having much more complex weaving patterns.
You can produce highly detailed bracelets and headbands, napkins, drafts, cowls, scarves, towels, and more on table looms.
The 3 Best Table Looms
Okay, so you’re ready to start weaving! Here are some of our favorite high-quality table looms that are suitable for simple and complex weaving patterns alike:
So keep reading for more about each of these looms perfect for your dining or craft table. Maybe this year’s holiday gifts can be fun to give and make!
1. Ashford 4 Harness Folding Table Loom
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This 4 harness folding table loom is portable and easy to use. This versatile table loom is in demand among both experienced and beginner weavers.
These four shaft looms unfold flat making it sturdy and easier to use. The levers are within easy reach and promise comfortable weaving.
Each shaft can be lifted quickly and simply and offers a wide variety of patterns to be woven. Made from solid Silver Beech hardwood, this table loom has been lacquered for long-lasting looks. The non-slip rubber feet provide extra stability.
- Lacquered solid Silver Beech hardwood
- Non-slip rubber feet promise extra stability
- Four harnesses
- Ideal for use in guild meetings and workshops
- Overhead beater along with automatic bounce back provides a wonderful shed
- Levers are easy within easy reach
- Each shift can be lifted quickly and simply
- Allows a wide variety of patterns to be woven
- The castle folds flat for easy transportation
- 4 harnesses work for many patterns, but the most complex patterns may require 8 or more.
2. Katie 8 Harness Table Loom by Ashford
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Katie Loom is a perfect multi-harness loom for sampling and workshops. It comes assembled and lacquered.
This loom has a stainless steel reed, threading hooks, a padded carry bag and an instruction booklet. Simply add yarn and start weaving!
This table loom is also portable and easy to fold and pack. Moreover, it is light in weight and hence, you can conveniently carry it around.
It measures just 6.5 kg. This loom permits easy threading. The eight harnesses make this table loom fully functional and offers unlimited possibilities to the users.
- Portable multi-harness loom
- Suitable for sampling and workshops
- Easy to fold and pack
- Is lightweight and measures just 6.5kg
- Ensures easy threading
- Assembled and harnessed
- Smooth levers
- Eight harnesses make it a fully functional table loom
- Only 12″ wide, so limited in project size.
3. Ashford 16 Harness Table Loom
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This 16 harness Ashford Loom is an immensely popular loom as it is easy to use and versatile. This 16 shaft table loom works well for both begining and experienced weavers.
It has a weaving width of 24 inches. The automatic bounce back and overhead beater provide a wonderful shed and even beating.
The levers are easy to reach and ensure a comfortable weaving experience. You can lift each shaft quickly as per your requirements. You can weave a variety of patterns with this table loom.
The Silver Beech hardwood has been lacquered for long-lasting good looks. The non-slip rubber feet ensures extra stability to this loom.
Swedish stainless steel reed and lightweight Texsoly heddles are also included along with this room. There is a wide range of accessories and options available when you opt for this loom.
The accessories included with the loom are warping tools, loom booklet, shuttles, hooks, warp sticks, and more.
- Portable multi-shaft weaving
- One weaving width 60 cm
- Overhead beater promises good weaving shed to the users
- Versatile and easy to use
- Ideal for both novice and experienced weavers
- Provides wonderful shed and even beating
- Levers are easy to reach
- Ensures comfortable weaving experience
- You can weave a variety of patterns with this table loom
- Non-slip rubber feet impart extra stability to the loom
- Is lightweight
- Requires some time to setup.
Up Next: The Best Yarn For Weaving
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