Introduction to Multi-Shaft Looms
What is a Multi-Shaft Loom?
A multi-shaft loom has frames, called “shafts,” that contain heddles through which warp yarn is threaded. Treadles on a floor loom, or levers on a table loom, control the shafts. They raise and, in some cases, lowering, them from a neutral position. Raising and lowering the shafts creates a “shed,” a space between the warp threads through which weft thread is passed to create woven cloth.
What Are the Different Types of Multi-Shaft Looms?
A jack loom has a rising shed, meaning that the shafts lift when the corresponding treadle or lever is depressed. As the shafts can operate independently, jack looms are very flexible for weavers wanting to experiment with many different patterns because it is relatively easy to change the tie up (the instruction detailing which treadles are connected to which shafts to create a pattern shed), but they can require more physical exertion than counterbalance or countermarche looms. At Gist Yarn, we carry jack looms made by Ashford and Schacht.
A counterbalance loom has pairs of shafts (usually 2 or 4) that work opposite each other on rollers or pulleys. Sometimes a counterbalance loom is described as a sinking shed loom because two of the shafts sink when the other two rise. This symmetrical operation of the shafts makes these looms great for balanced weaves like 2/2 twill, but challenging for unbalanced weaves like 1/3 twill.
A countermarche loom combines the independent shaft movement of a jack loom, with the symmetrical shed opening of the counterbalance loom. Each shaft is connected to all of the others, so when some shafts rise, all the others fall. This means that the tie-up can be complicated and time consuming.
What’s the Difference Between Table and Floor Looms?
Table looms are smaller than floor looms, often fold for storage and travel, and can be used on a table top or on a stand. The shafts are raised and lowered by levers on the top or side of the loom. We sell table looms by both Ashford and Schacht, across a variety of widths and ranging from 4-16 shafts.
A floor loom is larger and far less portable than a table loom, although some fold for more efficient storage. The shafts on a floor loom are controlled by treadles depressed by the weaver’s feet, leaving hands free for throwing the shuttle and beating.
How Can I Buy A Loom?
We carry floor looms and table looms from Ashford in New Zealand, and Schacht in Colorado, and they all ship free within the US. Both are highly respected family-run companies known for making quality looms. We are happy to answer any questions about these looms to help you make the best decision for your weaving interests and budget. Contact us or email email@example.com.