Advice on Buying a "Dream Loom"
I am in the process of remodeling a part of our house to become my weaving studio. It isn't going to be very large, but it is going to be wonderful. (Lucky me!). I will be able to get a new loom, and I'm thinking it should be the loom of my dreams. (I currently have one on loan from a guild member.) I haven't figured out where my weaving interests are going to take me, so I'm not sure what I should get. Should I get the widest loom with the most shafts just in case?
It is certainly exciting that you are able to choose a loom to go with a new studio! I wish it were true that one loom does everything perfectly, but alas, some looms are better for some types of fabrics than others. It really helps to know what you are most likely to want to weave.
It depends on your available space, but I usually advise against getting a wide loom (more than 40–48") unless you know you are going to weave a lot of rugs or wide pieces. If you think only that you might someday want to weave something wide, you are going to regret that the loom takes up a lot of your new space (and looks very funny weaving the narrow scarves you might love to do best).
More shafts make possible more blocks (for block weaves) and/or fancier twills. If you decide you want 16 shafts or more, you are probably going to want a computer dobby so you won't be limited by the number of treadles you have. If this is an area you are unsure about, I'd get an 8-shaft floor loom and use it while you do more investigating. If you get a sturdy, desirable floor loom, you can always resell it if you decide to move up to a dobby. Good quality jack looms will weave most types of fabrics well, but if you thought you wanted to weave mostly rugs, you should think about a countermarch loom. It is always good to try out a loom before buying it, however. Ask your guild members if you can visit their looms!