Are you planning to buy a rigid heddle loom?
And are you unsure what size to get?
Then you have come to the right place.
Many beginners buy a loom as big as their budget allows for, thinking that bigger is always better.
But that can turn out to be a big mistake!
In this post, you’ll discover all the different things you have to consider when choosing which size rigid heddle to buy.
Standard rigid heddle sizes
If you read our article on the best beginner looms, you know that rigid heddle looms can be as small as 8″ in width, or as big as 48″ in width.
The biggest one is 6 times bigger than the smallest one. That’s a huge range that you can choose from.
The best rigid heddle loom size for beginners is between 10″ and 20″ in width; not too big, nor too small.
Let’s look at how to narrow down your choice even more.
How to find the right size
The size and the price are two important factors to look at.
A loom twice the size is often not twice the cost. So it’s tempting to buy a loom as big as you can afford. Moreover, you can weave small on a big loom, but you can’t weave big on a small loom.
However, small looms have advantages of their own as well.
Here are 5 questions that will help you find the right size:
1 What do you want to weave?
The width of your loom will determine the maximum width of your weave. So a bigger loom gives you extra flexibility in terms of the kinds of projects you can work on.
However, if you already have in mind what you want to use your rigid heddle loom for, you don’t need to buy a loom that is bigger than necessary.
For example, if you want to weave scarves you want to look at a loom that is between 10″ and 15″ in size. To weave bathroom towels or placemats you want a loom that is around 20″. And with a loom over 30″ in size you will be able to weave small blankets.
2 How much space do you have?
Whenever you are not busy weaving, you will have to store your loom somewhere.
If you don’t have a dedicated room in your house just for weaving, you might want to pass on the bigger looms.
The smaller looms are much easier to place on a shelf or store underneath a bed.
3 Do you like warping?
With a rigid heddle loom you can’t avoid warping. But the time you will need to spend on warping does depend on the size of your loom.
Not only that, somehow warping a bigger loom just feel exponentially more bothersome. It takes up the entire table and requires a lot of time and patience.
If you want to minimize your time preparing the warp, consider going with a smaller loom.
4 How tall are you?
Don’t only pay attention to how big the loom is, but also to how big you are yourself.
This might sound a little strange, but it has to do with the length of your arms.
When you are weaving you have to pass the shuttle through the warp from one hand to the other.
If the loom is very wide, passing the shuttle might actually become more difficult to or even impossible.
Constantly leaning forward because you can barely pass the shuttle is very bad for your body.
So if you have short arms, it’s best to stay away from very wide looms.
5 Do you plan to travel with your loom?
Size and weight of the loom will determine how easy or difficult it is to travel with it or store it. This is pretty straightforward but important not to overlook. Small looms can easily fit in a bag and weight very little.
If however you don’t need a portable loom, you can go with a bigger model as well.
Pros and cons of a big loom (>20″)
Obviously the main benefit of weaving on a big loom is that you can make some actual yardage.
It also gives you extra versatility because you have more space to work with and you can either work on a small or big warp.
You could even prepare a big warp and then weave two smaller projects side by side.
But there are also significant downsides to working on a big rigid heddle loom.
First, passing the shuttle can be very cumbersome and you’ll have to use a big and clumsy shuttle if your arms aren’t long enough.
Moreover, warping one of these big models takes super long which might deter you from starting a new project.
You also probably want to use a stand for your loom, which you will have to buy in addition to an already pricey loom.
Finally, a big loom can take up a lot of space and due to its weight isn’t very easy to move.
Pros and cons of a small loom (<18″)
Small looms are much easier to work with; you won’t have to reach for your shuttle, you can set up the warp in no time, and you can easily hold one in your lap in front of the TV.
The lower price and the fact that you can easily tuck a small loom in a tote bag for travel are also nice features.
However, using a small rigid heddle loom does mean you won’t be able to make anything big. You could try to piece individual weaves together, but in my experience that never turns out very nice.
Which loom should I buy as a beginner?
In the intro I mentioned that beginners should look for a loom that’s between 10 and 20 inches wide.
Hopeful this article helped you decide if you want to be on the lower or upper side of that spectrum.
If you don’t know which rigid heddle loom to buy I would advise you to go with one of the following three models:
Or if you want to learn more about how to choose a loom for the first time, you can read our article on the best looms for beginners.