Prior to purchasing any equipment, I rented a LeClerc Dorothy from the guild for two months to practice handweaving, and specifically develop my ability to use a multi-shaft loom. While it was, in my mind, the right learning path – I eventually developed a desire to weave more complex structures (e.g., double weave, echo weave, etc.) and thus began looking to purchase my own loom.
It quickly became apparent that there was a trade-off between price, quality, and functionality (as expected). There were a few core requirements I had, which helped filter the options available, including size – especially with NYC apartment living, ability to fold, etc. Through the guild, I was able to try an 8-shaft Louet Jane (thank you, Gail!) but ultimately decided to pursue 16+ shafts given the designs / weave structures I gravitate towards the most and want to emulate. The guild members were an extremely helpful resource to use as a sounding board in making this decision.
I spent many weeks researching different loom models, and similarly searching through resources to find used equipment (e.g., online forums and groups, etc.). In the end, I decided to purchase a new Ashford 16-shaft table loom, which has a 24” weaving width, folds flat for storage, is operated via front levers, and was competitively priced for its functionality.
Order processing and delivery was incredibly quick; I ordered the loom on a Tuesday afternoon, and it arrived directly from New Zealand on the following Monday. The box itself was packed surprising well, with paper wrapped around every individual piece, and all of them fitting together in the box like a puzzle with essentially no excess space.
Assembly took an entire afternoon (approximately 4-to-5 hours) and required a decent amount of handiwork – with various hammering and drilling tasks. It is relatively large and heavy for a table loom (weighing in at around 40 lbs), so it was not the easiest to maneuver around. Generally, I found assembly to be easy and quick, with straightforward instructions; the most difficult and tedious portion was assembling and installing the shafts / heddles – which took an hour or so.
My inaugural weaving, now that the loom is fully assembled, will be a set of turned twill block napkins in 8/2 cotton!
If you care to follow my weaving journey, my Instagram is @orensweaving.