For most beginning weavers we recommend a rigid heddle loom, such as the Ashford Knitters Loom, Kromski Harp or Schacht Flip rigid heddle loom, since these are easy to manage. The set up of the loom (warping) is fast and easy to understand even if you have not woven before. You can start weaving quickly.
By all means, jump right in and get one! Make sure you have the support you need to get started, books and DVD’s are great but may not be enough. A friend that weaves or a class or two might be a good way to get started since these are more complex looms. Setting up a four or even eight shaft loom will take a little longer, but you will also be able to have a longer warp on your loom enabling you to weave more items in series.
Ask yourself what do you want to weave and where will you be weaving? Can your loom be narrow, since you want to weave mostly scarves or samples? Does it need to fold, like to Leclerc Compact so you can take it to lessons? Do you want a really wide loom that can weave throws and blankets? Do you love intricate patterns and need an eight harness loom, like the Louet Spring loom or are four harnesses more than enough for you? How tall are you? If you are very tall you may need a loom with a higher breast beam and loom bench or one that offers height extenders like the Schacht Baby Wolf loom.
If you are not a weaver take someone who weaves with you. If the loom is warped up, sit down and weave on it. Do the shafts (also called harnesses, frames that hold the heddles) lift up evenly? Does the loom hold the warp tension? Is the reed rusted? Does it feel solid? Is the loom still being made today in case you need parts? If the loom is not warped up try inspecting it visually, move the shafts, check the tension brake etc. If the loom is in pieces be aware that there is a good chance parts are missing that may be very spendy or impossible to replace.
In most situations a chair just simply is not high enough for you be able to have a comfortably reach. Loom benches are really designed to aid the weaver, since they are a little higher than the average chair, helping the weaver reach further into the loom and allowing to move a little while weaving.
The hard surface is actually quite good for your back too. If you do not have the money to buy a loom bench right away, try a bar stool for a while and you will notice that it, even though not ideal, will also give you more “reach” into your loom.
You do not need a warping board for rigid heddle looms. These come with warping pegs. You will however need a warping board or a warping mill for four harness looms – and other multi harness looms- regardless whether you have a table or floor loom
Well, technically no. You could just wind your bobbins by hand. You could also insert a pencil into the chuck of a drill and wind the bobbins this way. Both ways will work, but your yarn will most likely not be wound very even, meaning that your will not have the maximum yardage on your bobbin and worse, because they are would uneven your yarn may not flow right of the bobbin as it should. This may result in an interruption of your weaving rhythm, magnify uneven salvages etc. So, no, you do not “need” a bobbin winder, but we recommend that you get one as soon as you can.
Is the tension of your warp even? Did you remember to lay your yarn in at an angle to allow for take-up? If you are a beginning weaver it is quite normal that your salvages are not straight. Practice makes perfect in weaving too. If you are using a stick shuttle, try a small boat shuttle that fits thru your shed instead.
If you are already are using boat shuttles and our shed is big enough you could also try an End Feed Delivery shuttle. These fancy shuttles have an adjustable tensioner so that your weft will always be placed into the shed with the same tension. These shuttles do not us bobbins but pirns.