How do I Choose the Best Tapestry Loom?

K. Gierok

Choosing the best tapestry loom requires first deciding what size loom is right for you. You also have to figure out if it needs to be portable or can be stationary. You have to decide how many shafts you want your loom to have, what kind of wood you prefer, and what kind of loom — jack, counterbalance or countermarche — you want to use.

Space will need to be considered when choosing a tapestry loom.
Space will need to be considered when choosing a tapestry loom.

Determining how much space you have for a tapestry loom is an important part of the process. People who are new to this craft are often encouraged to start with a floor loom, but a floor loom is relatively large — some are too large to move easily, if at all — when compared to the smaller, more compact table loom. At the same time, while a table loom may be smaller, it is often considered more difficult to use, especially for a newcomer.

Floor looms are a popular choice for weaving large scale projects like tapestries.
Floor looms are a popular choice for weaving large scale projects like tapestries.

The shafts of a tapestry loom work by moving the strings around to different parts of the tapestry, creating intricate designs. Typically, these machines contain from four to eight shafts. While a four-shaft loom is sufficient for beginners, more advanced craftsmen often choose looms with a higher number of shafts that allow them to create more intricate patterns.

Determine also if you want your tapestry loom to be a jack, counterbalance, or countermarche loom. Most often, beginning weavers choose jack looms. A counterbalance loom, meanwhile, helps to create a tapestry that is more even. A countermarche loom can create a wider shed than the other loom types, though it also has its drawbacks.

One of the last steps in choosing the best tapestry loom is to decide from what type of wood you want your loom to be made. Great, high-quality looms can and are made out of almost any type of wood. For best results, consider choosing one that is made from a hard wood, such as maple or oak. Don't focus on the color of the natural wood when choosing a tapestry loom, because it can be stained to almost any desired color.

Finally, once you have found a great tapestry loom that appears to meet all of your requirements, test drive the loom. Most reputable dealers will have no problem allowing you to run a few lines of tapestry through the loom to determine whether it works for you. Some sellers will even allow you to take a tapestry loom home with you, and try it out there to see how well you like working on it. If this is the case, be sure that you completely understand the return policy. You don't want to be stuck with a loom that you have decided isn't right after all.

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Discussion Comments


@Iluviaporos - I wonder if they were using an original-style weaving loom or a more modern one with whatever innovations we've made since then. I also wonder how they managed to find people to work full time on the job. There must be very few people out there these days who really know how to work a proper loom. Although I guess it would depend on the country. I'm sure there are some places where people are still making traditional cloth and carpets the way they used to.

Actually, I wonder if you could end up getting a cheap loom while you were overseas. Getting it back might be an issue though.


@pastanaga - One of my treasured memories from traveling was a sight seen in Britain, when we went to see one of the old castles. They had some beautiful original tapestries hung inside and they also had traditional looms set up where they were weaving their replacements.

The original tapestries were very old and faded. The new tapestries were exactly the same, thread by thread and they had even taken care to use the same kinds of dyes and thread types. Even though they had several dedicated people doing the work full time in shifts, it was still going to take months before they finished a tapestry.

But it was really glorious to know that they were remaking something fresh so that we could all see it the way it used to be and so that they could better protect the ones that still remained.


If at all possible, I would take a couple of classes in this before investing in a loom. They tend to be pretty expensive and I can't imagine anyone buying one without some experience.

Using a loom used to be essentially a career back when they were more common and, while I think it could make an excellent, challenging hobby, it's not something that you can just pick up overnight. It will take hours of dedication to learn even the basics.

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