Spinninglizzy's Weblog

Falling down the slippery fibre slope

Ashford Knitters Loom

The Ashford Knitters loom is one that was not on my list of rigid-heddle considerations.  I had seen pictures of the blue plasticky ratchets and pawls, seen that the wood was not maple, knew that the marketing was aimed at luring knitters down the weaving slope (I had already slipped, so what was the point?) and never gave it another thought.

However, while seriously considering a Schacht 15″ Flip loom, several things happened almost simultaneously:

  • I’ve been chauffering my son to more classes, and wanted slim loom I could carry around easily
  • I saw a 15″ Flip in person, so felt how heavy and bulky it was
  • I came across a fantastic deal on a 12″ Knitters loom that had only been used once, and
  • I discovered that Ashford recently released a second-heddle upgrade kit.

My loom came with all the original accessories, plus a carrying tote.

7414KnittersLoom

The tote bag is very well designed; heavy-duty and well-padded, with long shoulder straps (not adjustable, though), and handy side pockets with some sewn thoughtfully narrower to accomodate long thin objects you might need to have on hand, like swords and stick shuttles.  The bag is closely fitted to the loom, with enough room for a book (or two) and some yarn.  I did find that the 7.5-dent heddle it came with to measure 11-5/8″ in length, and can’t help feeling a tad cheated of the last 3/8″.  I suppose 12″ sounds better than 11″ for marketing purposes.  While I waited for the second heddle upgrade kit and additional heddle reeds I ordered to arrive, I put on a first warp.

7422FirstWarp

The warp is a scant three yards of thick Lily Sugar ‘N Cream cotton, with more of the same for weft.  It turned out to be too much of this type of yarn; a brace across the loom close to the cloth beam limits how much I could wind on.  I had to jam in the last foot or so of cloth.  This is the loom pictured from its underside, showing the cloth crammed into the brace:

7441ClothBeamFilled

I used the shoestring method of speed-warping by Nadine Sanders,The Singing Weaver, which contributes a little bulk to the front.  The brace on the other end is farther away from the back beam, so the cloth beam will be the limiting factor to the length of the warp.  Thinking “scarf”, rather than “valance” is probably an good idea for warp length on this loom. 

One thing I did not like were the blue plastic ties attached to the front and back beams.  They are very springy, and push the attached stick away from the beam, making the warping process difficult.

7448PlasticTies

However, when I tried to substitute texsolv, I found I could not thread it in the holes of both the beam and the stick.  When I attempted a work-around with a metal rod inserted at the beam to hold the texsolv, I found the texsolv added substantial bulk when winding up the stick. 

7444TexsolvReplaceTies

When I tried to exchange the stick for a second rod, I discovered that the combination of the stick and plastic ties would wind around the beam until the stick sat perfectly on the flat side of the beam.  So, I reverted to the plastic ties, which turn out to be a marvel of thought and economy of space.  In fact, as I started to use this loom, again and again I marvelled at the insightful engineering design at every turn.

As to the springyness of the blue plastic ties, I used a bit of blue painter’s tape to tame them.

7449TapeDownTies

I wanted to reduce the bulk of shoestrings in the front, so attached a metal rod to the wood stick with texsolv.  I would thread the uncut ends of warp onto the rod to save myself the time of tying on and the bulk of knots — even though that would entail winding onto the front beam, threading the heddles, tying on at the back, and the extra step of re-winding the warp to the back beam.

7457TexsolvWarpBeam

Another example of the Ashford engineering thoughtfullness can be seen in the pair of blue, plastic, L-shaped pieces, found on both sides of the loom just behind the heddle blocks.  One is pictured below with the single and double heddle blocks.

7455SecondHeddleKit

These two L-shaped pieces prop the back beam so it’s up at an angle from the rest of the loom, and so improves the shed. 

It was quick to install the second heddles on the Knitters Loom; a few taps with a hammer to remove the bolts from the original heddle blocks and put them into the dual ones was all it took.

The loom is easy to fold with the weaving in place; put the weft-filled shuttle between a shed to lock it in place, put the heddle in the “travel” position (the lowest notch in the heddle block), then fold.  I found the loom to be sturdy, extremely portable, and just plain loveable — I’m crazy about this loom!  It’s lightweight, without being a lightweight, if you know what I mean.

Update, 2010 2 January:  Using multiple heddles on the Ashford Knitters Loom

Advertisements

11 June 2009 - Posted by | Weaving | , , ,

14 Comments »

  1. This loom looks really appealing when you explain it. I think that brace limiting how much cloth goes on the cloth beam could be the biggest problem, but if a person only wants to weave single-scarf-length warps… Time might also tame the plastic ties–they might get less springy the more they’re made to curl around the beam?

    Thanks for another great review!

    Comment by trapunto | 12 June 2009 | Reply

  2. There is no stopping you. The Illustrations are so clear and I found it much more iteresting tha I was expecting.You must really love experimenting on different looms. I also love the way you always think about transporting and finding as much weaving opportunity as possible. You are an inspiration!

    Comment by deborahbee | 17 June 2009 | Reply

  3. Thanks for the instructions. They were better then the ones that come with the loom.

    Comment by veronica | 30 November 2009 | Reply

    • Veronica, You are very welcome, and Thanks for stopping by!

      Comment by SpinningLizzy | 2 December 2009 | Reply

  4. Thanks for your information!
    A friend has one of these she wants to sell (she needed something even smaller!), but I thought the price was a little high! Your descriptions explain what makes this loom different and worthwhile. Thanks!

    Comment by Lauri | 24 January 2010 | Reply

  5. Thanks for your commentary on this loom. I have been thinking about getting one and was hoping to hear some positive things about it. Have a great day!

    Comment by Ellen | 18 April 2010 | Reply

  6. Hi
    Have just found your blog. I am a total novice just dipping a toe in this craft! Would you recommend the Ashford knitter’s loom as a first time purchase? Any advice you could give me would be very welcome.
    Thanks

    Comment by Marie | 21 February 2011 | Reply

    • Hi Marie! I love my AKL, and highly recommend it. I love that it’s lightweight and easily portable (including the stand!), if that’s a consideration. Another option to consider is the Schacht Flip loom — I love the Flip as well, but they are heavier, and I’ve been keeping mine at home for the most part. I’ve written other posts on both Flip and the AKL if you want to search my blog for them. I hope to hear of your further adventures in weaving!

      Comment by SpinningLizzy | 21 February 2011 | Reply

  7. Re the bar of wood at the front getting in the way, I simply unscrewed mine and moved it an inch or two further forward….

    Adam

    Comment by The Craft Bench | 12 October 2011 | Reply

  8. Since this blog entry was just today (8/29/12) linked to on Ravelry, I thought I’d mention that you might have reduced your cloth capacity by using the paper on the *finished* cloth. Yes, you need it for the warp, but once the cloth is woven, you’re just giving that space away if you put paper in it. 😦

    It _is_ advisable to put paper or something over the knots as they go under the cloth beam, but after that, weave away with nary a worry about paper! I gained quite a bit of space, using worsted-weight knitting yarn, on my Cricket when I did away with the paper on the cloth beam.

    Comment by DogCatMom | 29 August 2012 | Reply

    • Thanks for the mention. I compounded the bumpy-ness at the cloth beam by using plastic bags in the header, so it took a little longer with paper for the cloth to wind on smoothly. I don’t think I’ll use such a thick header in the future, at least not on smaller looms.

      Comment by SpinningLizzy | 30 August 2012 | Reply

  9. I have an Ashford 20″ knitters loom. I have threaded the warp onto the loom and into the reed. The reed works fine in the up position, but when I try to put it in the down position, it just hangs there and doesn’t fit into the down position cut out. At first I thought there was a mistake in the reed because the top of the reed is shorter in width than the bottom. But it appears that’s the way they are supposed to be. I am at a loss….I’m all set up to start weaving and can’t! Help! Thanks

    Comment by Cindy Tharp | 16 April 2016 | Reply

    • Hi Cindy,
      I’m trying to visualise your problem. Is the cut-out for the heddle is too small to fit it? I’ve heard that the folks at Ashford are wonderful with customer support. The New Zealand site is http://ashford.co.nz/ but I do know they have a local North American branch as well. The other thing to do is to take some pictures and ask on Ravelry, in the Ashford Knitters Loomies group. Hope you will be able to start weaving soon!

      Comment by SpinningLizzy | 17 April 2016 | Reply

    • This is my exact same problem — did you ever resolve it?

      Comment by christy | 21 January 2017 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: