Portrait of Amos
by: Amos

Rigid heddle loom: make the right choice

Rigid Heddle Loom Guide: A great place to start, a great place to advance

rigid-heddle-loom-diagram

Interested in weaving? Rigid heddle looms can get you started quickly, easily, and offer plenty of room to grow and experiment. Starting out can be intimidating: new vocabulary, strange equipment and complex instructions. You may think twice. Don’t falter! Learning to weave is not as complicated as it seems, and rigid heddle looms are down right puppy dog friendly in comparison to large multi-shaft looms. Everything you learn from the experience will be useful if you “move on” to a bigger and/or multi-shaft loom. Most importantly, they’re fun whether you’re learning or already advanced!

This Buyers Guide will help you select the rigid heddle that will meet your needs, your aspirations, and your budget. You may want to “test the waters” with an affordable loom. You may want to learn to weave, and leave room to grow with your loom… Or you may be looking for a rigid heddle loom that can help you to play with advanced hand manipulated weaving patterns and techniques. Regardless, you’ll find that all the rigid heddle looms we carry are made by companies with a strong tradition of quality.

Vocabulary cheat sheet

  • Rigid Heddle (Loom) – The frame that holds the Rigid Heddle and the warp for weaving.
  • Rigid Heddle (Reed) – The tool that lifts and lowers the warp threads allowing weft threads to pass through the warp. The rigid heddle comes with a set number of slots and holes for your warp. Different numbers are used to work with different sizes of yarns.
  • Heddle Support Block – Holds the rigid heddle in “up” or “down” position.
  • DPI – dents per inch – This is the number of holes and slots in 1″ of your rigid heddle reed. Sometimes abbreviated to “dent”.
  • Warp – The threads stretched on the loom.
  • Weft – The threads woven over and under the warp threads.
  • Ratchet Brakes – When the warp threads are wound onto the loom, or advanced while weaving, ratchet brakes lock the position, and provide “tension” for weaving.

rigid-heddle-loom-diagram

Things to consider

Versatility

  • Heddle size: Does the loom have heddles available with different dents per inch or dpi? Rigid Heddle Reeds are typically between 5 and 12 dpi (you may also hear heddles referred to by “dent”, so a “5 dpi” and “5 dent” heddle are the same). When you are ready to move on to use different sizes and textures of yarns you’ll need reeds with different dpi; for bulkier yarns use lower dpi, for finer threads use higher dpi. If you only have one size this will limit your choices. (extras make great gifts so tell Santa!)
  • Number of heddles: Can you expand the loom to use more than one heddle at a time? On many looms, expanding the rigid heddle loom can be done by using two heddles to create more threads per inch or do more complex weave structures. (
  • Weaving width: will also influence the availability / compatibility of weaving patterns.

Comfort & Efficiency

  • Fit: The more you weave, the more important it is that the loom “fit” your reach and posture. Looms with adjustable stands are more versatile when it comes to comfort while weaving (plus a dedicated stand can save you the time of setting-up and dismantling your weaving area).
  • Stability: Sturdier looms, and looms with well designed support blocks that securely position heddles make weaving more comfortable.
  • Efficiency: Basic looms may prioritize compactness, portability, and simplicity. Simple projects are fun on starter looms, where the lack of features (complication) aids in ease of learning. Since setting up your loom correctly is the foundation of good weaving, more advanced looms have design features to aid in warping the loom. Advanced looms will also position and hold one, or multiple, heddles well, have locking ratchet brakes that hold tension well, and allow a quicker flow of weaving.
  • Assembly: Though a small concern in the long-term, it is worth noting that with the exception of a few of the smallest looms, most rigid heddle looms require some assembly before first use.

Rigid Heddle Loom Comparison Guide


Here are some of our favorite rigid heddle looms in three categories: Basic looms that are best for getting started; intermediate rigid heddle looms that have more capabilities; rigid heddle looms that have advanced capabilities.


Introductory rigid heddle looms overview

Perfect for weaving belts, bands, and samples

  • Pros: Affordable. Cute. Most are portable. Simple design make learning a snap.
  • Cons: Most have limited weaving width, limited expansion capabilities (single heddle only).

Choose one of these if you:

  • Are just “trying out weaving”, and plan to upgrade if (when!) you get hooked
  • Are looking for a great gift for children or adults who enjoy working with fiber
  • Want a smaller loom that is easier to move / store

Beka rigid heddle looms:

Beka 4" Rigid Heddle Loom

 

Beka 4" Rigid Heddle Loom » Info / buy

Looms come assembled and warped for your first project! Also comes with one shuttle. 4” loom includes 4” wide 8 dent reed. 10” loom includes a 10” wide 10 dent reed and 4” wide 8 dent reed. Small loom.

Does not fold ~ Available reeds: 8, 10, 12 ~ Double heddle: No ~ Loom stand: No ~ Price: $


Introductory level Ashford rigid heddle looms:

Ashford SampleIt 10" Rigid Heddle Loom w/built in second heddle option
Ashford SampleIt 16" Rigid Heddle Loom w/built in second heddle option

 

Ashford SampleIt 10" Rigid Heddle Loom w/built in second heddle option  Ashford SampleIt 10" Rigid Heddle Loom w/built in second heddle option
Ashford SampleIt 16" Rigid Heddle Loom w/built in second heddle option  Ashford SampleIt 16" Rigid Heddle Loom w/built in second heddle option

Comes with 7.5 dent reed, two shuttles, double ended threading hook, warping peg, clamps and 20 page color step-by-step weaving bookle. Available: loom bags, stick shuttles. Small loom.

Does not fold ~ Available reed: 2.5, 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5 ~ Double heddle: Opt ~ Loom stand: No ~ Price: $$


Introductory level Schacht rigid heddle looms:

Schacht Cricket 10" Rigid Heddle Loom
Schacht Cricket 15" Rigid Heddle Loom

 

Schacht Cricket 10" Rigid Heddle Loom  Schacht Cricket 10" Rigid Heddle Loom
Schacht Cricket 15" Rigid Heddle Loom  Schacht Cricket 15" Rigid Heddle Loom

Comes with: two stick shuttles, a warping peg, threading hook, two table clamps, and 8-dent rigid heddle reed. Relatively small looms.

Does not fold ~ Available reeds: 5, 8, 10, 12 ~ Double heddle: No ~ Loom stand: No ~ Price: $$


Intermediate & advanced rigid heddle looms

Overview: Two-heddle capable looms with room to grow. The most popular group of looms, strike a good balance between versatility and value.

  • Pros: Many have good price points. They are versatile, capable and accessible. Built to withstand steady use. Designed to accomodate using two heddles.
  • Cons: May need accessories such as stands, extra heddles, heddle stands, etc, for some projects.

Choose one of these looms if you:

  • Want to learn to weave on a sturdier rigid heddle
  • Want to be able to try advanced techniques and patterns
  • Have experience weaving, and are “downsizing” to a rigid heddle loom
  • Are looking for a gift for someone who loves fiber and is likely to try multiple weaving projects, or for someone with weaving experience

Intermediate+ level Ashford rigid heddle looms:

Ashford 16" Rigid Heddle Loom
Ashford 24" Rigid Heddle Loom

 

Ashford 16" Rigid Heddle Loom  Ashford 16" Rigid Heddle Loom
Ashford 24" Rigid Heddle Loom  Ashford 24" Rigid Heddle Loom

Comes with: Reed nylon 7.5 dpi, 2 natural shuttles, threading hook, warping peg, step by step instruction booklet, and clamp.

Does not fold ~ Available reeds: 2.5, 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5 ~ Double heddle: Opt. ~ Loom stand: Opt. ~ Price: $$


Intermediate+ level Kromski rigid heddle looms:

Kromski 60cm / 24" Harp Forte Rigid Heddle Loom

 

Kromski 60cm / 24" Harp Forte Rigid Heddle Loom  Kromski 60cm / 24" Harp Forte Rigid Heddle Loom

Comes with: 2 stick shuttles, pick-up stick, single warp peg, warping pegs for built in warping board, 2 clamps, threading hook and a very helpful “warp helper”. Optional loom bag.

Folds ~ Available reeds: 8, 10, 12 ~ Double heddle: Opt. ~ Loom stand: Opt. ~ Price: $$


Intermediate+ level Ashford rigid heddle looms:

[Sorry, item discontinued or temporarily out of stock]

 

[Sorry, item discontinued or temporarily out of stock]
  [Sorry, item discontinued or temporarily out of stock]

Comes with: 7.5dpi reed, step by step instruction booklet, 2 shuttles, threading hook, warping peg and clamp. Assembled and lacquered, loom bag available.

Folds ~ Available reeds: 2.5, 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5 ~ Double heddle: Opt. ~ Loom stand: Opt. ~ Price: $$$


Intermediate+ level Schacht rigid heddle looms:

Schacht 15" Flip Folding Rigid Heddle Loom
Schacht 20" Flip Folding Rigid Heddle Loom
Schacht 25" Flip Folding Rigid Heddle Loom

 

Schacht 15" Flip Folding Rigid Heddle Loom  Schacht 15" Flip Folding Rigid Heddle Loom
Schacht 20" Flip Folding Rigid Heddle Loom  Schacht 20" Flip Folding Rigid Heddle Loom
Schacht 25" Flip Folding Rigid Heddle Loom  Schacht 25" Flip Folding Rigid Heddle Loom

Comes with: 10 dent reed, warp peg, 2 stick shuttles, threading hook, warping peg, and instructions. Available: loom bags, flip trap (holds tools at front of loom).

Folds ~ Available reeds: 5, 8, 10, 12, multi or variable dent heddle ~ Double heddle: Opt. ~ Loom stand: Opt. ~ Price: $$$


Intermediate+ level Glimakra rigid heddle looms:

Glimakra Emilia 13.5" Rigid Heddle Loom
Glimakra Emilia 19" Rigid Heddle Loom

 

Glimakra Emilia 13.5" Rigid Heddle Loom  Glimakra Emilia 13.5" Rigid Heddle Loom
Glimakra Emilia 19" Rigid Heddle Loom  Glimakra Emilia 19" Rigid Heddle Loom

Comes with: 10 dent reed, 2 clamps, flat shuttle, warping peg, sley hook, threading needle, instructions. Available: second heddle kit, carry bag

Folds ~ Available reeds: 8, 10, 12 ~ Double heddle: Opt. ~ Stand: Opt. ~ Price: $$$


Intermediate+ level Leclerc rigid heddle looms:

Leclerc Bergere 24" Rigid Heddle Loom
Leclerc Bergere 24" Rigid Heddle Loom (Uprights and double Heddles standard)

 

Leclerc Bergere 24" Rigid Heddle Loom  Leclerc Bergere 24" Rigid Heddle Loom
Leclerc Bergere 24" Rigid Heddle Loom (Uprights  and double Heddles standard)  Leclerc Bergere 24" Rigid Heddle Loom (Uprights and double Heddles standard)

Comes with: one or two 6-dent rigid heddle reeds, 2 – 28” stick shuttles, 2 metal lease sticks, 2 warping blocks to hold the heddle for threading, and an instruction and weaving book.

Does not fold ~ Available reeds: 6, 8, 10, 12 ~ Double heddle: Yes (or Opt.) ~ Loom stand: No ~ Price: $$$


Advanced rigid heddle looms

Overview: For weavers who want the most versatility and options. Wide weaving width and versatility make these the most capable rigid heddle looms.

  • Pros: Able to weave the greatest variety of projects and patterns. Built to withstand steady use. Designed to accomodate using two heddles.
  • Cons: High end price for rigid heddle looms (but oh-so-affordable compared to multi-shaft looms). Accessories may be required to reach full potential (stands, extra heddles, etc).

Choose one of these looms if you:

  • Are learning to weave and want room to experiment
  • Want to be able to weave wider projects
  • Want the flexibility to weave most any rigid heddle project
  • Have experience weaving, and are “downsizing” to a rigid heddle loom
  • Are looking for a gift for someone who loves fiber and is likely to try multiple weaving projects, or for someone with weaving experience

Advanced level Ashford rigid heddle looms:

Ashford 24" Rigid Heddle Loom
Ashford 48" Rigid Heddle Loom

 

Ashford 24" Rigid Heddle Loom  Ashford 24" Rigid Heddle Loom
Ashford 48" Rigid Heddle Loom  Ashford 48" Rigid Heddle Loom

Comes with: Reed nylon 7.5dpi, 2 natural shuttles, threading hook, warping peg, step by step instruction booklet, and clamp. Optional 2nd heddle block.

Does not fold ~ Available reeds: 2.5, 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5 ~ Dobule heddle: Opt. ~  Loom stand: Opt. ~ Price: $$$


Advanced level Kromski rigid heddle looms:

Kromski 60cm / 24" Harp Forte Rigid Heddle Loom
Kromski Harp Forte 80cm / 32" Rigid Heddle Loom

 

Kromski 60cm / 24" Harp Forte Rigid Heddle Loom  Kromski 60cm / 24" Harp Forte Rigid Heddle Loom
Kromski Harp Forte 80cm / 32"  Rigid Heddle Loom  Kromski Harp Forte 80cm / 32" Rigid Heddle Loom

Comes with: 2 stick shuttles, pick-up stick, threading hook, single warp peg, warping pegs for very helpful built in “warp helper”, and instruction video. Optional loom bags, 2nd heddle block.

Folds ~ Available reeds: 8, 10, 12 ~ Doble heddle: Opt. ~ Loom stand: Opt. ~ Price: $$$


Advanced level Majacraft Dynamic Rigid Heddle Looms:

(temporarily unavailable)

A set of 9 reed segments (Either: 9x4dpi reeds OR 3x2dpi, 3x4dpi, 3x6dpi reeds), shuttle, flat hook, long hook, direct warping block, Majacraft bench clamp, 7 warp pegs (+ 2 extra short pegs that are used for a table mount), Easy Warp tool, warp cords.

Folds ~ Available reeds: 2, 4, 6 ~ Double heddle: Yes ~ Loom stand: Opt. ~ Price: $$$$


Accessories

Looms come with the basic tools you need to get started. Once you get hooked on rigid heddle weaving, you’ll find room to grow with loom accessories: It’s fine to wait and see, to take a problem solving approach. Carrying bags, extra heddles, threading tools and shuttles are likely in your future.

The two most important upgrades for weaving flexibility are: adding second heddle (and possibly a heddle support block), and adding heddles with different dpi. The rigid heddles themselves will most likely have to come from your loom maker; they’re not typically interchangeable. Look at our comparison chart to see some of the extras available. If you plan to use fine yarns, look for higher dpi heddles, for bulkier yarns, look for smaller dpi heddles.

Learning tips and resources

No surprise, people learn differently. Luckily, resources are out there to work with different learning styles. It is also lucky that many rigid heddle looms that we sell come with instructions, and some even come set-up to start weaving right away (pre-warped). You’ll find basic rigid heddle projects very approachable.

Advanced projects are much easier with a little help! Traditionally most people learned to weave as an apprentice. This is a wonderful way to learn, but, it’s not readily available to most people. Probably the best way for most people is to find a class or other group learning situation. Weaving shops often offer classes and have equipment for you to use (you can always check our current listings if you’re able to visit us in Maine). Guilds are another resource, the Handweavers Guild of America (HGA) has on line a listing of guilds through out the USA.

Books are great because you can turn to them quickly and easily while you are weaving. Here are four of our favorite books just for learning Rigid Heddle Weaving. Magazines are great for ongoing inspiration and to broaden your exposure to different techniques.

 

Hands On Rigid Heddle Weaving  Hands On Rigid Heddle Weaving
Ashford Book of Rigid Heddle Weaving   Revised Edition  Ashford Book of Rigid Heddle Weaving Revised Edition
Textures and Patterns for the Rigid Heddle Loom  Textures and Patterns for the Rigid Heddle Loom
The Weaver's Idea Book: Creative Cloth on a Rigid Heddle Loom  The Weaver's Idea Book: Creative Cloth on a Rigid Heddle Loom
Best of Handwoven: Rigid Heddle Pattern Book 1   New Technique Series  Handwoven eBook Printed Copy  Best of Handwoven: Rigid Heddle Pattern Book 1 New Technique Series Handwoven eBook Printed Copy
Rigid Heddle Technique and Pattern Book 2  eBook Printed Copy  Rigid Heddle Technique and Pattern Book 2 eBook Printed Copy

Books 1 and 2 are excellent foundations and a great place to start. The last two are technique driven with many different weave structures.
shown.

These days, in addition to TV shows and specialty craft programs, there are a wealth of DVDs and online videos. DVD’s are great for visual learners.

  • [Sorry, item discontinued or temporarily out of stock] This is a good foundation or companion for the Weaver’s Idea Book.
  • [Sorry, item discontinued or temporarily out of stock]

 

[Sorry, item discontinued or temporarily out of stock]
  [Sorry, item discontinued or temporarily out of stock]
[Sorry, item discontinued or temporarily out of stock]
  [Sorry, item discontinued or temporarily out of stock]

Ultimately, you’ll learn from all these sources. And as your experience and enthusiasm grow, you’ll teach others too!

Please also remember that if you’d like more expert advice choosing a loom – we’re just a phone call away: 800-341-0282.

Happy weaving from Halcyon Yarn!

Related items of interest: • Weaving EquipmentWeaving Books

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22 thoughts on “Rigid heddle loom: make the right choice”

  1. Kathy Wahl says:

    A great article! Thank you!!!!
    I would like to teach weaving to children starting at about age 8. I teach sewing right now and have a Schatt Cricket 15″ available for them to play with and they really enjoy the process. Would you recommend this loom for them if I were to teach classes or is there another loom that would be more appropriate? Thanks much!

    1. Gretchen says:

      Hi Kathy,
      That’s wonderful that you’ll be starting to teach kids weaving, that is a great age for them to start learning on a rigid heddle. I’m so glad you found the article helpful.
      The 15″ Cricket is a wonderful starter loom for learning rigid heddle, and as suitable as any for teaching kids. They are straightforward and very sturdy so a towel, table runner or scarf, or just a sampler of fun colors, are all good starter projects. You can also go beyond the basics on it pretty easily too. Most of the small to medium rigid heddle looms are suitable for that age, and we get great feedback about the Schacht models. Please let me know if there’s anything we can help you with as you get underway!
      Happy weaving! – Gretchen

  2. Becky says:

    Your information is great and I would truly appreciate your opinion. I began on the Cricket 15”. Now I’m kicking myself as I’m already wanting to get a larger Rigid Heddle and want to make a good decision so I don’t kick myself in a few months. As much as I would love a 30 or 32” I see controversies about them as far as mobility and shoulder or reaching issues. I am thinking 24” but am absolutely torn between the Ashford and The Kromski Forte. I’m not sure if the folding option is necessary but I like the looks of the Kromski. People who have either of them love them. What would your honest recommendation be between the two brands? Thank you!

  3. BetsyE says:

    Thanks for the awesome info! I noticed recently that Ashford also now makes a 16″ Sampleit Loom size – and also makes 15 dent heddles for the 10″ & 16″ Sampleit! Can you tell me what the difference would be between the Ashford 16″ Sampleit or the 16″ Rigid Heddle?

  4. Karen says:

    I found your information very helpful, sadly I live in the UK and not able to visit the shop!

  5. Kathleen Brakke says:

    I am brand new to weaving and considering a Kromski Harp 24 inch. I hope I’ll be happy weaving on a table top rather than a stand. But I can add a stand down the road if that’s an issue. Can you tell me the kind of yarn each size heedle takes. Will I be able to use heavy worsted weight yarn with an 8DPI heddle? I’m considering making rugs and want to make sure the heddle will handle the type of yarn I will need.
    I’m a passionate knitter looking forward to adding weaving to my creative talents.
    Thank you for the great comparisons of ridge heddle looms on the market.

  6. Dawn says:

    Hello

    Can you use an Ashford 20 inch Knitters Loom Reed for a Cricket Loom.
    Thank you
    Dawn

    1. Gretchen says:

      Hi Dawn,
      Thanks for your question! We’re always glad to find ways to get as many uses out of a particular tool as possible… Unfortunately in this case the reed is not interchangeable. The design of the Cricket is such that the grooves the reed sits in to create your shed require that the dents be inside the edges of the reed “frame” and the 20″ Ashford reed will be too wide to fit the edges of those grooves when you lower the shed. Some of the larger Rigid Heddle looms will work ok if you want to switch between brands of reed, but for the best results they’d still need to be the same width. We’d be happy to help you find additional reeds or other parts parts for either the Ashford or Cricket if you need them.
      Best, Gretchen

  7. Isobel Donnelly says:

    Hi Amos ! Have just come across your blog re Rigid Heddle Weaving and have to say how much I have enjoyed it and how informative it is yet easy to understand ! I became interested in learning to weave last year . I bought a 16 in Harp by Kromski. So far l have only done one project and was pleased with the results. Ido a lot of spinning and now want to develop my weaving skills . Being partially disabled the warping is hard for me but am desperately keen !l am looking forward to learning and developing my confidence ! Also being older l know I am slower but am grateful for all advise and information I can find ! Again thank you so much ! Isobel.

    1. Gretchen says:

      Hi Isobel, We’re so glad this information is serving you well and that you are enjoying weaving! The Kromski is an excellent loom, and rigid heddle weaving gives you some great options for using your handspun yarns. I hope the warping process becomes easier as you practice and grow your confidence. If there are tools we can explain, or tips we can give you that will help, please don’t hesitate to call or email with questions or for a little advice. Happy weaving!
      PS Amos is out of the shop today, but I will pass along your thanks! I think he is getting underway with a couple of rigid heddle projects with his kids as we head towards the holidays, it is a craft we all really love here at the shop!

  8. Margaret Ajiginni says:

    I find the information very interesting, educative and insightful. Thanks for the write up

  9. Jacque says:

    Thanks very much for your input! Now it’s decision time!

  10. Jacque says:

    This guide was most imformative however, I have another question. I have MS and mobility is now curtailing my previous art/craft activities but I will not just quit entirely! I love all things textile and weaving is of special interest. I am most interested in being able to advance to items other than scarves or belts and apparel. I want to incorporate bulky yarns and heavier items for wall hangings for example, or small bags or or even smaller for incorporating into jewelry. Can you help me decide which rigid heddle loom would be best for these applications? The ability to use bulky items is probably most important after mastering the basics. Am I correct in thinking that a more advanced selection would still allow for small width as well? As you can see, I will be completely new at this but determined!

    Thanks!

    1. Amos says:

      Hi! Great questions and great that you’re going to give it a go! You are correct that the wider looms can also be used for narrow projects. It seems like since you want to work with a lot of different yarns, bulky to fine, the Ashford looms will be a good option, either the “Knitters Loom” or their “Rigid Heddle”. Ashford has the most options for reeds, including the 2.5 DPI reeds for bulky yarns. Feel free to email or call with questions! PS sorry for the delay in responding, just saw your comment :-)

  11. Susan Cliff says:

    Your comparison chart was SO helpful! Thank you for making it.

  12. D. W. Vaughan says:

    Just retired and learning to weave is one of my goals. Your article was very helpful. I’m a man, and I don’t know how many men get into weaving, but I’m going for it. Have watched my wife make wonderful quilts for years, and thought I might like fiber arts. Bought several books and taught myself to crochet. (We now have lots of afghans!) Now it’s time to learn to weave! Rigid heddle looms are a good place to start, and your article gives good concise comparisons of the major brands.

  13. Wanda says:

    How does the harrisville 7.5″ weaver lock the weft in? I see it has a block for the heddle but does that switch the warp so the it locks the weft in when weaving. I have made carpets on a large floor loom with the pedals that switch the warp and would like to understand how the harrisville 7.5″ works in the same manner without pedals. Thank you!

    1. Amos says:

      Hi Wanda, The harrisville, and most of these rigid heddle looms, raise and lower the warp threads in a similar fashion. This is by simply using your hand to raise and lowering the heddle. The heddle has alternating slots (which allow the warp thread to stay stationary while the heddle goes up and down) and eyes (which force the warp thread to raise or lower with the heddle). So when you raise/lower the heddle it raises/lowers all of the warp threads that are threaded through eyes. The top of the block is used to rest the heddle in the up position, there is also a way to hook the heddle on the lower section of the block to hold it in the down position. Finally, the heddle is also used to “beat” the weft thread. Let me know if that makes sense, it’s simple when you see it in action. Thanks for the question! Amos

  14. Lalla Ward says:

    This has all been so helpful, thank you all at Halcyon Yarn for helping a new weaver to navigate this multi-dpi highway, the myriad choices and language skills required, and to show us how to avoid a pile-up in the fast lane!

    Lalla

  15. Martina says:

    Thank you for this excellent article!

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