13 Key Features to Consider When Purchasing a Frame Loom
It can be really confusing to decide which weaving frame looms is best for you. So we have come up with 13 key features to consider when purchasing a frame loom to help make this easier for you!
1. Spacing of Warp
This is one of the most important aspects of choosing your frame loom. All frame looms have fixed spacings to set up a warp (which can’t be changed) and the warp set up is done according those spacings. This is known as the warp sett and dictates how fine a cloth you can achieve on your frame loom. Use a ruler to count how many warp ends you have in an inch; this is known as the warp EPI. 2-5 ends per inch (EPI) creates tapestry style designs covering your warp (think rugs and baskets). 6-11 EPI is a medium thickness cloth with enough variation to experiment with thick and thin yarns (consider wall-hangings and scarves). 13+ EPI can create a fine cloth similar to hand and floor looms (imagine delicate woven jewellery). However, keep in mind that a frame loom with a narrower warp sett (higher EPI) gives you the flexibility to weave all the mentioned projects, but it doesn’t work the other way around for a loom with a wider sett (lower EPI).
(Left: The Oxford Frame Loom, Right: Funem Studio)
2. Is the warp adjustable?
If you're new to weaving and don't yet understand the significance of warp tension, you may be doing yourself a disservice. On a loom warp tension is everything, so check to see if the frame loom you're after has a sliding heddle bar or rotating top or bottom heddle bar. These features will enable you to adjust your warp tension, making it easier for you to weave and giving you a better quality finish.
(Left: Hello Hydrangea, Right: The Oxford Frame Loom)
3. Size of Loom
Pick a loom that is appropriate for both you and your project aims. A big loom is great if want to work on large scale projects and have a large room to weave and store it. But it might be a little uncomfortable depending on your height as you may be bending or reaching unnecessarily or if you live in a small flat and can’t store it. A small loom should do the trick if you wish to produce fine jewellery, you like to travel with your loom or don’t have a lot of storage space. But maybe holding a smaller loom is tricky or your eyesight isn’t as good. So, think about what, how and where you'll be weaving to work out what frame loom size will work for you. And remember to measure up and compare frame loom sizes from different brands. Several brands offer numerous size options ranging from Mini to XXL making it ultra-important for you to do your homework and compare your looms like for like.
(Left: The Oxford Frame Loom, Right: Roving Textiles)
4. Ease of Use
Your frame loom should be simple to assemble, quick to set up a warp, comfortable to weave on and easy to store. Look for the features of the loom and accessories they come with to know if the frame loom is right for you.
5. Shape of the Loom
With contemporary weaving you must also consider the different shapes of frame looms that are now available. Classic shapes include rectangles and squares, but new circular and novelty shapes exist now too! From clouds to rainbows, laser cut frame looms and handmade version made of metal existing to add originality and humour to a project. But just note that many of these new shaped frame looms are not meant to remove your weaving from the loom as they feature holes, not notches or hooks. Many shaped loom designs are meant to incorporate the loom into the final design so they will need replacing every time you start a new project.
(Left: Niroma Studios, Right: Tammy Kanat)
6. What is Your Weaving Style?
Do you want to weave fine cloth? Do you love thick & chunky fibres? Are you looking to experiment with materials? Or are patterns your thing? As a novice weaver you may not know what you love about weaving yet. So, although a basic loom with a wider sett can be great to learn the basics allowing you to practice many of the more straightforward techniques, you may prefer a loom that will encourage you to experiment and discover what you love most about weaving by giving your more learning options and extra features.
(Left: Balfour & Co, Right: The Oxford Frame Loom)
Budget is a major consideration for many when purchasing a frame loom. The cost of a frame loom is determined by its size (big or small), the type and hardness of the material (solid wood, plywood, plastic, metal etc), the accessories (additional extras), the quality of construction (massed produced or intricate detailing by a craftsperson) and the complexity of the design (allowing a variety of weaving options). Your decision will likely be influenced by what stage of weaving you're at as well as your long-term goals, so it is important to be informed about all the features of the loom before making your decision.
8. What Projects do you Want to Weave?
The type of frame loom you have will dictate what you can achieve on your loom. Do you want to weave wall hangings or are scarves your thing? Do you get excited by trying new techniques and like to be challenged? There are many exciting projects that can be woven on frame looms such as 3D textiles and double cloth structures, but you’ll need to do your homework and explore the features of the frame loom to learn what each loom can do.
(Left: The Oxford Frame Loom, Right: Nova Mercury)
9. What is Your Weaving Ambition?
If you're new to the craft, then a basic loom design is likely to be enough to get you started. But if you’ve already learned the basics and are already looking for new challenges then you might consider investing in a loom that can do the basics but also take you beyond coasters and wall-hangings. Buying a loom that gives you the opportunity to grow instead of purchasing many looms as you improve in skill and confidence will likely save you time and money in the long run.
(Left: The Oxford Frame Loom, Right: Juju Just)
10. Does the Loom Include any Accessories?
Accessories for a loom include things like a loom stand, a rotating heddle bar, a double-sided heddle bar and weaving tools. Some accessories you can do without or adapt by rooting around in your kitchen drawer. But if you’re weaving regularly and you are sat at your loom for long periods of time, it is always worth investing in the best quality tools you can afford to make weaving more comfortable, to improve the finish of your cloth, to help save time and above all, to make the weaving experience more enjoyable.
(Left: Hobbycraft, Right: The Oxford Frame Loom)
11. Assembly and Storage
Frame looms come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be easy or difficult to assemble and store. If you plan to travel with your loom, live in a small apartment or your crafting space is limited, be sure to choose a loom that is lightweight, breaks down easily and can be stored safely with or without a project still on the loom.
Choosing a loom is like buying a camera. The higher quality features of the camera you purchase, the greater likelihood of achieving a better photograph. But the outcome will also depend on the skill and talent of the photographer. It is possible to produce a beautifully handwoven lavender sachet using a cardboard kids' loom, but this isn’t always the case. If you choose the best quality loom you can afford it might also have a smooth finish to avoid snagging your warp and weft yarns, be stain resistant with a stain or waxed finish, easily washed, easy to assemble and adjust, come with a handy case or pouch for storage. Any characteristic that makes the experience easier will make the outcome more refined.
(Left & Right: The Oxford Frame Loom)
This is one of the most overlooked aspects of choosing a frame loom. Keen weavers will spend HOURS weaving on their loom, so it is important that their loom has a design that will give them flexibility to sit comfortably for long spells. Does the loom have adjustable features? Can the loom sit on the weaver’s lap? Does it have a stand to sit comfortably on a table and is the incline adjustable? Can it clamp upright to a table? Does the weaver need to reach up or crouch down repeatedly? Get this right and your body will thank you!
(Left & Right: The Oxford Frame Loom)
As you can see there are many different types of frame looms on the market and they can support a variety of weaving styles, abilities and budgets. We encourage you to explore the different looms available and think about what you want from your weaving journey. If you are looking for a high quality loom with many features that take you from beginner weaver to expert textile designer, then take a look at The Oxford Frame Loom. You won't be disappointed with your investment.