Rolling in Rigid Heddle Looms

Rolling in Rigid Heddle Looms

Rigid Heddle Looms

Left-- The Ashford Looms: The Ashford Rigid Knitter's Loom (Top) & The Knitter's Loom (Bottom)
Right-- The Schacht Looms: The Flip Loom (Top) & The Cricket Loom (Bottom)



The Rigid Heddle is one of my favorite types of looms. It’s quick to set up, affordable, and it really lets you get to know basic weaving techniques. On top of that, there are so many four shaft patterns that can be accomplished on a rigid heddle loom by just manipulating the threads with a pick up stick.

What is a Rigid Heddle Loom?

On a multishift loom, there are heddles on the shafts that keep the warp ends in the order specified by the pattern, and they feed through a heddle that keeps the ends the correct space apart as you weave. The heddle on a rigid heddle loom is a combination of the two: it holds the ends in order and it  keeps them a set distance apart using a system of alternating slots and holes.

What do I need to get started?

  • A rigid heddle loom
    • A heddle (most looms we carry come with either a 7.5 or 8 dent heddle, which is perfect for worsted weight yarn)
    • At least one shuttle (the shuttle holds the weft as you weave) (typically you’ll get two with your loom)
    • A reed hook (this is included with the looms we carry)
  • A way to wind your warp
    • The looms we carry come with a warping peg for direct warping, which is a great place to start. I recommend using a table the length you want your warp to be in order to wind a direct warp. That way you can anchor you loom at one end and your peg at the other. A common pit fall for beginners is that when the peg and loom are anchored to different things one or the other may get bumped into or, if the warp is wound with too much tension, one may get pulled closer to the other.
    • Some weavers with more experience like to use the indirect warping method to set up their rigid heddle looms. If you want to give it a try, you’ll need a warping board, lease sticks, and a way to secure your lease sticks to your loom. I don’t recommend an indirect warp for the first few warps you do, because there are a lot of extra steps.
  • Yarn for your project
    • Worsted weight yarn works best with the heddle that comes with the Ashford and Schacht looms. We recommend that beginners start with a nice, thick weight cotton, because it’s easy to see, it’s forgiving, and it doesn’t abrade easily or have so much elasticity that it’s difficult to work with. Our one day placemat class for beginners uses the 4/6 cotton by Circulo that comes in solid and variegated
    • If you’re working from a pattern, make sure that you get enough to do the warp and the weft.
  • Some basic crafting supplies
    • A tape measure
    • Scissors
    • Scrap yarn (If you don’t have scrap yarn, you can buy a little extra pattern yarn or some inexpensive yarn that’s the same weight as your project yarn)

Rigid Heddle Tips

  • When you’re setting up your loom, make sure you have even tension on your warp. As you’re winding, you never want to just let go of your yarn and walk away, because your warp will loosen unevenly. Instead, either wind the warp in one go or wrap the yarn over itself so that no slack gets into your warp.
  • When you pull the heddle towards you to smooth a pick into place it’s called “beating”. That doesn’t mean you beat it to death. In most cases, it’s more of a gentle squish.
  • It’s ok if your selvedges aren’t perfect at first. A lot of times beginners forget to leave their yarn at an angle while they weave, which causes uneven selvedges that have a lot of draw-in—in other words, the ends that are supposed to be at the edges end up being squished together and pulled so tight they get pulled out of place. If you notice this happening, stop, take a breath, and leave a little extra yarn (about 1-1.5cm) when you throw your next few picks. You’ll start to see your selvedges start to get back to where they should be.
  • If you’ve worked a few pieces and still aren’t getting the edges to look the way you want, try using a lifeline selvedge. Kelly Casanova has a great video on the technique. With this technique, I like to use a total of four lifelines: one on each of the last ends of my warp, and one that goes through the next slot beyond my project. When I’m hemstitching, I bundle the lifelines into the first and last group. Remember to remove your lifeline selvedges before you wet finish your piece!

Picking a Rigid Heddle Loom

There are a lot of important factors to consider when you’re buying a rigid heddle loom.  

  • Are you going to take it to classes? Then you want one that’s either foldable or that is compact and light weight enough to carry.
  • Where will you do most of your weaving? If you’ll be weaving in front of the tv or in an arm chair, you’ll most likely want a stand to go with your loom. If you’re weaving at a table, it’s not secure enough to just set it down and weave--you’ll need to either clamp the loom to the table (there are several clamps included, but you’ll need a table without a lip to be able to use them) or you’ll need a loom that can be propped against a table while you weave.
  • What are you going to make? On a rigid heddle loom, you can get a piece that’s twice the weaving width of your loom with some finagling. If you put your mind to it, you can get a piece that’s three times the width, but it takes some doing. In terms of manageability, if you want a piece that’s 60” wide, it would be much easier to do a double width piece on a 30” piece than to weave with a 60” shuttle, which would need to be grasped with one hand on either side of the loom and pulled all the way out of the work before being passed back through.
  • What yarn/material will you be using? If you’ll be using worsted weight yarn, you’ll be fine to use the heddle included with Ashford and Schacht looms (7.5 and 8 dent respectively). If you want to use yarn that’s thicker or thinner, though, you’ll need a different size heddle. My first loom was an Ashford Knitter’s Loom and I ended up getting a Schacht Flip as well so that I could make projects on one while I was playing with designs on the other (I use both about the same amount and they switch roles frequently). My most frequently used heddles are size 7.5, 8, and 10.
  • What are you looking for? The Cricket is a great starter loom, because it’s inexpensive and can also turn into an inexpensive table loom with the Quartet (although the Quartet can’t be removed once it’s installed). It's perfect for beginners who want to learn the basics of weaving and explore differnt kinds of looms. The Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom is a very solid loom that’s great for at home use, and it really shines if you don’t need something that folds up, but it’s less portable than the other three looms. The Knitter’s Loom and the Flip both fold for easy portability, and they’re available in sizes that are manageable to work with. The Knitter’s Loom is my go to loom for double heddle work, because I love the double heddle block. At the same time, I love how secure the locking mechanism is on the Schacht Flip. Both Ashford looms have fixed apron ties that can’t be removed, which holds the apron rod even while you’re warping and tying on, but it also makes indirect warping a little more difficult (but definitely still doable). The Schacht looms have detachable apron rods, so you have to be a little more careful while warping your loom and tying on, but it makes indirect warping and removing projects a lot easier. The Ashford looms also have heddles that have a definite front and back, which I haven’t found to have much of an impact on my weaving, but it may be one of the reasons why I find the heddles are easier to thread. On the other hand, the Schacht heddles are impossible to put on backwards, even if you’re distracted.

Loom (listed by price lowest to highest)

Schacht Cricket

Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom

Ashford Knitter’s Loom

Schacht Flip

Available widths

10”; 15”

16”; 24”; 32”; 48”

12”; 20”; 28”

15”; 20”; 25”; 30”






Available Heddles Dents (dpi)

5, 10, 12

2.5, 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, 15

2.5, 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, 15

5, 10, 12

Can it be propped against a table to weave?





Can it be clamped to a table to weave?



Yes, but not as securely as the Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom


Is there a stand available?





Double Heddle block




. . . Kind of

See below







































Very solid


Light weight

The lock for the folding mechanism is very secure

It’s very easy to adjust the angle of the loom on the stand

Very similar quality compared to the Ashford Knitter’s Loom

I find that I don’t need to advance my warp as frequently on my Knitter’s Loom as I do on my Flip

I find that on my Flip I get a slightly larger shed than the Knitter’s Loom

Very portable! (Some customers take the smaller width to weave with in the car!)

The stand has a footrest that can be adjusted to a comfortable angle

Very similar quality compared to the Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom

Can purchase a flip trap to make weaving more convenient

Once you get comfortable with weaving, you can (permentantly) convert a 15” Cricket to a table loom using the Quartet

Very good for double heddle weaving, because heddles can move independently

The stand has a footrest that can be adjusted to a comfortable angle

Has multiple neutral/threading positions, which makes it really easy to thread two heddles

Compact and lightweight

Has holes on the back for warping pegs, which can turn the back of the loom into a  warping board.

Very easy to fold

Has a front beam, which helps the woven fabric wind onto the cloth beam more evenly



Higher quality craftsmanship than the Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom

Large weaving space before you have to advance the loom



Very good for double heddle weaving, because heddles can move independently

Higher quality craftsmanship than the Schacht Cricket



Comes with a very sturdy carrying bag that will fit all your accessories, including multiple heddles























No double heddle block

The larger looms are cumbersome to transport

The lock for the folding mechanism is made of nylon

Can purchase a carrying bag separately

Lower quality construction compared to the Schacht Flip


I find that on my Knitter’s Loom I get a slightly smaller shed than on my Flip

Doesn’t have a true double heddle block. You can easily use two heddles to double the sett, but in order to move the back heddle down, the front heddle has to either move with it or be temporarily moved forward; in otherwards, the back heddle can’t be moved independently of the front heddle.

The stand is short, which could be a benefit for shorter weavers, but I found it a little too low for me (I’m 5’ 7”ish)



I find that I have to advance my warp more frequently on a flip than I do on the Knitter’s Loom to make weaving comfortable and consistent

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.