What is the Best Loom to Use For Table Runners?

Hi Madelyn!

I am a beginning weaver and one of my goals is to weave table runners. Can a frame loom be used for table runners? My current one is 12″ X 16″. I am considering a rigid-heddle loom, thinking that it will be more versatile.



Hi Joy!

I’m assuming that your frame loom does not have a warp beam, which means that the longest table runner you can weave would be 16″. Looms equipped with warp beams allow winding the warp threads around the beam whatever number of times needed for the desired length of the warp. Table runners are usually longer than 16″, though both their width and length can vary a great deal. Rigid-heddle looms do have warp beams and would, therefore, be more versatile than your frame loom for table runners.

Another consideration besides length, however, if your goal is weaving table runners, is what you want them to be like. For most rigid-heddle looms, the finest cloth you can weave (unless you move to using more than one heddle), would have 12 warp ends per inch. You could weave a weft-faced cloth with that sett or one in plain weave with a yarn about the thickness of 3/2 pearl cotton. If you want a finer cloth and/or more potential for patterning, you might consider a 4-shaft or 8-shaft table or floor loom.

Almost all of us were once beginners like you, suddenly faced with the wide world of weaving, wondering what loom to get. The more you learn, the more you’ll see what a big world weaving really is, with an almost overwhelming number of options. For me, the best thing I ever did was join a weavers’ guild. With every meeting, I found out more about what looms there are and what each loom did best. Most guilds also have study groups (and they almost always include one for beginners). Usually, study groups meet in weavers’ homes, and so you get to see a wide range of looms and yarns. Every guild meeting has a “show and tell,” so you get to see example after example of woven cloth and find out which types you really want to make. Weavers also love to share what they know, so you can find out what looms and drafts and yarns they used.

At any rate, my philosophy is that you can never have too many looms. So, in your case, I’d start by adding a rigid-heddle loom to your frame loom.


If you have a weaving question we would love to hear from you! Please email Madelyn! Pictured: Summer Lace Placemats and Mug Rugs by Suzie Liles Handwoven May/June 2017.

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