Weaving is an immensely rewarding activity that can be easily mastered by anyone – if, and that’s a big “if,” you choose a rigid heddle loom.
Traditional weaving looms, including the comparatively smaller table looms, are large, expensive and quite complex pieces of equipment that require skill, patience, and a fair amount of house room.
The elegantly simple design of the rigid heddle loom, however, makes this loom the perfect weaving loom for anyone wishing to learn the craft.
Compare a rigid heddle loom with a table loom and you’ll find the rigid heddle is so much more affordable, easier to warp, more portable, and unlike traditional looms, it will leave you with little to no yarn wastage.
They’re perfect for all skill levels who want to sample artisan yarns or try out new techniques and design patterns or for skilled weavers wishing to complete a simpler project without the hassle of setting up a large loom.
For a beginner, however, they are an absolute must-have tool for learning to weave. They’re easy to use but won’t hold you back from advancing your skills beyond the basics.
By adding another heddle or using pick-up sticks or heddle rods, the rigid heddle loom can easily be adapted to produce more advanced and complex weave patterns.
To continue our weaving series, we’ll be taking a look at the best rigid heddle looms out there and choosing the right one for you.
We should point out that much of this guide will be a comparison between the two brands Schacht and Ashford. You really can’t go wrong with either of them but there are some differences between the two you absolutely should know about before you buy.
So let’s dive straight in and get started.
Reviews of Our Top Picks for the Best Rigid Heddle Loom
|Best Rigid Heddle Loom for Beginners||Schacht Cricket Loom 10″ or the Schacht Cricket Loom 15″|
|Our Runner Up / Alternative Pick for Beginners||Ashford SampleIt Weaving Loom 10″ or the SampleIt Weaving Loom 16″|
|Best Foldable Weaving loom||Schacht Flip Rigid Heddle Loom 15″ or the Schacht Flip Rigid Heddle Loom 25″|
|Best Foldable Weaving Loom / Alternative Pick||Ashford Knitter’s Loom 20″|
|Best Large Rigid Heddle Loom||Ashford Weaving Rigid Heddle Loom 48″|
The table below shows you the number of rigid heddle dent sizes available for each brand. The larger the number the finer the yarn and visa versa. For example, 5 dent is perfect for bulky yarns, 8-dent for worsted yarns and 12-dent for lace-weight yarns.
|Brand||Available Dent Sizes.||Dent Included|
|Schacht Cricket||8, 10, 12, and 15 dpi||8 dpi|
|Ashford SampleIt||2.5, 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, and 15 dpi||7.5 dpi|
|The Schacht Flip||5, 8, 10 and 12 dpi||10 dpi|
|Ashford Knitter’s Loom||2.5, 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, and 15 dpi||7.5 dpi|
In case I lose you with any terms used in this guide, just refer to the diagram below.
Best Rigid Heddle Loom for Beginners: Schacht Cricket Loom 10″ or the Schacht Cricket Loom 15″
Best Rigid Heddle Loom for Beginners
The Schacht Cricket Loom is the perfect choice for beginners.
It’s easy to warp and very simple to use. It’s also a very affordable loom on which to master the art of weaving. That doesn’t mean, however, that you’ll outgrow its capabilities any time soon.
In fact, this loom is also a firm favorite of experienced weavers. Simply because it’s so much more portable and convenient to set up than having to go through the lengthy process of warping the more complex table loom, especially for smaller projects like scarves, and wraps, etc.
Both the Schacht Cricket loom and the Ashford loom are very similar – and to be perfectly honest, they are both excellent choices.
For us, however, the Schacht loom stands out in a couple of areas, which we’ll get into shortly, that give it the edge over the Ashford for most people. But you may disagree, if, for instance, you are keen to work with bulky yarns. As you can see from the table above, there is a wider range of optional extra dent sizes available for the Ashford than for the Cricket, allowing you to work with bulky yarns if you wish.
The Cricket comes with an 8 dent rigid heddle (or reed as it is sometimes referred to). The Ashford comes with a 7.5 dent but they are pretty much the same given that the US-made Cricket has imperial measurements and the New Zeland made Ashford loom is metric. This means they are both ideal for the ever-popular and most commonly used, worsted yarns.
One area where the Schacht Cricket rigid heddle loom stands out is that the ABS plastic teeth of the heddles are little sturdier, and therefore more durable than the nylon teeth of the Ashford so are less likely to bend or break over time.
But most significantly, it has and has front and back beams.
These front and back beams are a feature the Ashford doesn’t have. They hold the woven cloth to the front of the loom, and warp threads to the back of the loom, up, and over the front cloth beam and the back warp beam. You can see this in the photo below.
This means the cloth won’t build up and become bulky on the cloth beam so you can basically weave much longer lengths of fabric while still maintaining a nice even shed (the area where shuttle passes back and forth).
And it’s this design feature that for us, wins the day.
The frame is made from high-quality maple (apple ply and hard maple) and comes, as most of them do, unfinished so you may want to apply a coat of Danish oil or a gel stain to condition and treat the wood for longevity.
Included in the box are a threading hook, warping peg, table clamps, two shuttles and a couple of balls of yarn to get you started. There are also comprehensive instructions as well as copious youtube video tutorials so don’t worry, you’ll never be on your own.
The Schacht Cricket Loom is available in either a 10-inch or 15-inch width. The size you choose will depend on what types of projects you want to make.
You’ll ideally need a good size table to warp the loom as you’ll need some distance to create a good warp length – which will mean clamping your warping peg to the far end the table. Once your loom has been warped, however, either the 10″ or the 15″ loom can be worked on a tabletop or even balance on your knee.
What We Like:
- Rigid Heddle | The reeds are more study than those of the Ashford.
- Front and Back Beams | These are a great design feature in that they hold the woven cloth and warp threads up, over the front cloth beam and the back warp beam. This prevents the cloth from building up on the cloth beam so you get a consistently more even shed and you can work much longer pieces of cloth.
Buying Factors to Consider:
Unlike the Ashford Samplit we’ll be looking at next, there isn’t a slot to add another heddle. If you’d prefer to have the option to add a second heddle you may prefer to go for the Schacht Flip Rigid Heddle Loom we’ll be looking at later, alternatively, there are ways to get around this with this loom as shown in this youtube video, meaning you can, in theory, add another heddle if you wish.
I just want to add here, that although it might seem that you could just buy an Ashford heddle, it won’t fit the Cricket loom but could, with a bit of DIY, be adapted.
Lastly only the foldable looms come fully assembled so you will need to put this one together, it is very easy though.
If you’re in the UK, check the latest price for the Schacht Cricket 10″ loom on Etsy.
Our Runner Up / Alternative Pick for Beginners: Ashford SampleIt Weaving Loom 10″ or the SampleIt Weaving Loom 16″
Our Runner Up / Alternative Pick for Beginners
Designed to “sample” new techniques and weaving patterns as well as trying out different types of yarn and color combinations, the Ashford Sampleit loom is the ideal weaving loom for beginners to learn the craft.
Like the Cricket loom we’ve just looked at above, it’s also capable of more complex weave patterns and so makes great second loom for advanced weavers, for working on projects that don’t warrant the lengthy and more complex warping process that a table loom or floor loom involves.
A couple of features that stand out for us about Sample It loom are first, the number of extra dent sizes available, as you can see in the table above. That means if you wish, you can work with much thicker yarns than you could with the Schacht Cricket loom.
And secondly, the Sample It loom, also has a built-in second heddle option. That means you don’t need any hacks or DIY to add a second heddle. The slot is already there for you.
The only feature that this loom doesn’t have and the Schacht loom does, is the addition of front and back beam.
With the Ashford Samplit loom, the cloth winds straight onto the cloth beam- which is fine – there’s no problem with that, except if you want to work on very long pieces. In which case the cloth would build up and add an increasing amount of bulk to the cloth beam. This could start to reduce your shed.
One thing we especially like is the design of the rachet gear. When you turn the gear to advance your fabric the gear doesn’t require tension to lock so there’s no chance the rachet dog or pawl will jump out of the gear. With the Cricket you’d feel safer placing a finger on the dog while you turn the gear.
The Sampleit is available either in a 10-inch width or a 16-inch width depending on the types of projects you want to make.
What We Like:
- Wider Number of Rigid Heddle Dent Sizes Available | There are more dent sizes available for the Ashford SampleIt than the Schacht loom meaning you can use extra bulky yarns if you wish.
- Built-in Slot for a Second Rigid Heddle | This means you can easily add a second reed if you want to without any hacks or DIY skills.
- Sturdier Ratchet Gear | This means that there’s no chance the rachet pawl will jump out of the gear while you are advancing your cloth.
Buying Factors to Consider:
This is an amazing loom, it’s lightweight, easy to warp, easy to use, and capable of so much more than it’s simple design would have you believe.
If you want to create very long pieces, however, you may find the design of the Schacht Cricket or Flip loom works better for you, as it has front and back beams that prevent the cloth from building up on the cloth beam narrowing your shed size.
Lastly as previously mentioned, only the foldable looms come fully assembled so you will need to put this one together, but it’s easy so a degree in physics is not required.
Best Foldable Rigid Heddle Loom: Schacht Flip Rigid Heddle Loom 15″ or the Schacht Flip Rigid Heddle Loom 25″
Best Foldable Rigid Heddle Loom
There’s a bit of a jump in price for a folding rigid heddle loom but you can’t fault this design and the ability to fold the loom for travel or just store it away – even mid-project, in our opinion, is worth the extra investment.
There are other advantages too. Unlike the Cricket loom the Flip loom comes with built-in blocks or slots for multiple heddles – making it easy to add an extra heddle if you want to. There are a few different sizes of the Flip loom to choose from depending on how wide you’d like your loom to be. You can choose between a 15”, 20”, 25” and 30″ weaving width. The 15″ and the 25″ featured here differ only in that there is just one single rachet gear on one side of the 15″ (and also the 20″) loom and there are two, (one on each side) on the 25″ (and also the 30″) loom.
Instead of the front and back beams, that are a feature of the Cricket loom, Schacht’s Flip heddle loom has a top cross brace which means you can weave long warps, up to a whopping 15 to 18 feet without any reduction in the size of the shed.
The frame itself is made in the US from high-quality maple and hand-rubbed with a Danish oil finish and whichever size you choose, each includes a 10 dent reed, a warping peg, two shuttles, two clamps, a threading hook, and comprehensive warping and weaving instructions.
What We Like:
- Portable and Foldable | Perfect for folding away either between or mid-project. The back leg allows you to hook it onto a table or you can install it on a trestle stand.
- Built-In Blocks for Multiple Heddles | This is a handy feature that the Cricket range doesn’t have.
- It Has a Top Cross Brace | This means you can weave long warps, up to a whopping 15 to 18 feet without any reduction in the size of the shed.
- No Finishing Required | It’s made from high-quality maple and is already hand-rubbed with a Danish oil finish so no finishing is required.
- Fully Assembled | Most looms require assembly, though this is generally easy, if you are really not into DIY, this foldable loom is the way to go.
Buying Factors to Consider:
This is a great weaving loom, there are no downsides except for that fact that we should mention that a folding loom does cost more than a same-sized none-folding rigid heddle loom. But this one is very similar in price to it’s nearest foldable rival next.
Check the latest price on Amazon:
Best Foldable / Alternative Pick: Ashford Knitter’s Loom 20″
Best Foldable /Alternative Pick
The Knitter’s Loom is our alternative choice to the Schacht Flip. It’s lightweight, easily foldable for travel or storing away and even comes with its own padded carry bag with front and side pockets to store shuttles.
It’s available in three different sizes 12″, 20″ and a larger 28″ width.
Though very similar to the Flip there are a couple of differences we should point out. The first being that the ratchet gear is, in our opinion, superior to that of the Flip, it doesn’t require any warp tension. You can hear it clicking into place when you turn it – even with no warp on the loom. That means the dog or pawl won’t jump out while you are advancing your work.
Secondly, and this is not exactly a plus point, it doesn’t have a top cross brace so the cloth winds straight onto the cloth beam. This, as with the Sampleit loom, means the cloth will build up and become bulky after a certain point, reducing your shed size. That said, weavers have reported completing a 9 feet long project without any problems.
The loom comes ready assembled and finished. Included is a 7.5 dent heddle, two stick shuttles, a warping peg and a clamp, a double-ended threading hook and easy to follow instructions.
What We Like:
- Portable and Foldable | Perfect for storing away either between project or mid-project.
- Built-In Blocks for Multiple Heddles | This is a handy feature meaning you can easily add a second heddle for more complex weave patterns.
- Superior Ratchet Gear | The gear is, in our opinion, superior to that of the Flip, it doesn’t require any tension. You can hear the pawl clicking into place when you turn it even with no warp on the loom.
Check the latest price on Amazon:
If you’re in the UK, check the latest price for all sizes of the Ashford Knitter’s Loom on Etsy.
Best Large Rigid Heddle Loom: Ashford Weaving Rigid Heddle Loom 48″ or the Ashford Weaving Rigid Heddle loom 32″
Best Large Rigid Heddle Loom
Often thought of as a small loom or a sample loom, the 32 inches wide or the even bigger 48 inches wide rigid heddle looms are as big as you could possibly want. But much less bulky, as well as, so much easier to warp than a table or floor loom.
It’s suitable for making wall hangings, full garments, rugs, throws, home furnishings and so much more.
So if you’re interested in making large pieces, this is the loom for you.
The simplicity of a rigid heddle loom makes it an ideal choice for beginners but with the addition of pick up sticks and extra reeds, the loom is capable of more advanced and complex weaving techniques so this is not a loom you’ll outgrow.
Like all Ashford looms, this loom is well made with a sturdy self-locking ratchet gear that doesn’t require the tension of the warp to set it, so the pawl won’t jump off the gear while you are advancing your work.
The loom comes with a 7.5 ” dent but has a built-in double heddle block so you can add additional heddles if you wish. It also comes with one 22″ natural shuttle and one 30″ natural shuttle.
What We Like:
- Built-In Double Heddle Block | This loom has a built-in double heddle block so you can add additional heddles if you wish.
- Superior Ratchet Gear | The gear doesn’t require any warp tension to set it. You can hear the pawl clicking into place when you turn it even with no warp on the loom.
Buying Factors to Consider:
None – if you want a loom with extra width to complete large weaving projects this is the loom for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it called a rigid heddle loom?
Sometimes the most ingenious designs are the simplest. Rigid Heddle looms, take their name from the single hard plastic heddle design that replaces the traditional reed (vertical slots – a bit like a comb) and heddles (vertical cords or wires with eyes in them to thread the warp through) which traditionally held the warp threads. This simple, integrated reed and heddles design is called a “rigid heddle”.
One rigid heddle on a rigid heddle loom is the equivalent to 2 shafts of a 4 shaft loom to produce a plain weave.
Is weaving difficult to learn?
Weaving is a highly skilled craft with many complex weaving techniques to master. But that doesn’t mean, however, it’s not easy to learn the basics and you can create some beautiful and professional-looking pieces, by using simple techniques on a rigid heddle loom.
What size rigid heddle loom should I buy?
The answer depends on the types of projects you want to make. Generally speaking the most popular loom size for a beginner is any size between 10 and 20 inches wide.
How much do weaving looms cost?
Floor looms are large, sophisticated pieces of equipment with many moving parts. As you might guess, they are the most expensive domestic looms and can cost a few thousand dollars.
Next are the table looms, you can expect to pay upwards of around $900 for one of these, depending on the make and size.
Rigid heddle looms, in comparison, are much more affordable. You can buy a good quality rigid heddle loom for under $200.
Other Rigid Heddle Looms We’ve Reviewed:
These are the products that didn’t quite make our top picks, but they’re still pretty good so you might like to take a look.
And if you need somewhere to store and display your yarns, hop over to our craft organizer guide.
High Tension Rigid Heddle Loom
This is a great option that can create more of a warp tension than other models.
- Made from birch and comes ready finished.
- Includes a 10 dent heddle but has an optional double heddle kit and additional dent heddles.
- The locking of the loom frame provides a tensioning device.
This one has a nice scroll design to it but there’s more to it than looks alone.
- Comes with an 8-dent heddle.
- Can support extra heddles by means of a separate second set of heddle blocks.
- It comes with an integral warping board.
Best Budget Rigid Heddle Loom
Simply designed, this one a little cheaper than the others. It’s basic, it doesn’t come with clamps and peg – but it works.
- The shed blocks are designed to fit three at a time.
- Made from Cherry wood.
- 20″ wide.
Stand for the 32″ Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom
Weave in comfort with this loom stand. You can also choose one to fit other loom sizes.
- It creates a free-standing loom.
- It hs an adjustable tilt.