The purchase of a rigid heddle loom is not an inconsiderable one, for most people the amount of money they are going to invest is something to really think about, so which size rigid heddle loom is right up there in your considerations.
So, there are certain things you need to take into account when choosing your loom. As we mainly deal with Kromski rigid heddle looms, we will mainly be referring to them but most rigid heddle looms work in the same way so the information is pretty transferrable. Kromski looms are available in four sizes, 8", 16", 24" and 32" so getting the right one for you takes a little bit of thinking about. On our Two Day Weaving Workshop we offer people the chance to use our looms, giving them the opportunity to try a size of loom out before they buy
People come to weave with differing ideas. Some people want to make scarves, table runners, or smaller projects. They might want to weave smaller lengths of fabric that they can make bags, pin cushions or smaller items that won't take up too much time. Some weavers want to sample and experiment with a rigid heddle loom before they move onto the larger piece on their 4 or 8 shaft loom. So a small 8" loom would do them just fine. We use 8" Kromski Harp looms on our workshops and people weave the most beautiful scarves. Or we have also woven gorgeous cotton facecloths as gifts on our smaller loom and found it liberating to weave little projects and have them completed quickly.
If you are wanting to weave fabric so that you can make clothes then obviously a larger loom is what you need. There are lots of options for creating fabric for clothes, weaver Sarah Howard has a large selection of patterns created specially for the rigid heddle loom and she starts from the 16" so don't automatically think that you would need a huge loom in order to create fabric for clothing. Also, there is a technique called Double Heddle Weaving where you can use two heddles on your rigid heddle loom and weave double the width. So, if you have a 16" loom, you could create a 30" piece of cloth (just allowing there for draw in)
If you have enough space to be able to keep a loom permanently on a stand then you could have a large loom, maybe even a 32" loom. Some people though weave against a kitchen table and if you've been to one of our workshops you'll have woven just like that. So if you have a table that you can rest comfortably on and it's large enough for your loom to fit on and is sturdy enough so that you can lean against the loom then a larger loom could be good for you.
The Kromski Harp Forte looms fold in half, even when your weaving is attached. So if storage of your loom is an issue, as it is for us living on a boat, then the fact that it can fold in half is a real assett.
The smaller the loom, the cheaper the price but for Kromski looms, the difference in price between the loom sizes is around £30. So we would always recommend going for the largest loom you can afford because you can always weave smaller pieces on a larger loom but not the other way round and for the sake of £30 you wouldn't want to be frustrated with your weaving because you were limited in what you could produce.
Kromski looms tend to be a mid range pricing, with Ashford looms cheaper and Schaacht looms more expensive. We use all three types of looms on our workshops, Ashfords are great but some of their parts are plastic and can come off. The Ashford looms are slightly easier to warp because their dowel is attached and if you didn't intend to use a painted warp or do any indirect warping then this could be a good choice for you.
We love the Kromski being made of wood and metal and also having the removable dowel which allows painted warps to be just slipped over the dowel and warped up and so could possibly have more options when it comes to creativity. Also, being able to use an indirect warping method would allow you to create a really long warp and weave scarves as presents for everyone you know!
If you've purchased your loom from new, you will have a stick shuttle included. We've found that when using a larger loom a boat shuttle is a great little piece of kit and may change your weaving life! Particularly with the 32" loom, you really are getting to quite a width and a stick shuttle that large can be a little bit cumbersome. A small boat shuttle that you can fling across your shed will make your weaving more manageable and is actually really good fun too
Well, if you'd like to come on a Weave a Scarf Workshop which runs for just the day we can warp up a larger loom for you to have a try on (everyone weaves the same width). Or if you'd like to come to the Two Day Weaving you can cherry pick your loom and see how you get on before you take the plunge
We're also happy to have a chat with you, if you give us a call we can even meet you and show you the looms and how they work. We want to support you in getting the perfect loom for your needs so let us know what you need and we will do everything we can to help.