Alternatively: I already have a rigid heddle loom, can I weave tapestry on that?
The short answer to both: No.
Tapestry looms and rigid heddle looms were designed for different types of weaving that require different basic needs from a loom.
While it is technically possible to weave a scarf on a Mirrix (this leno lace one made by Noreen Crone-Findlay is a great example) or to weave tapestry on a rigid heddle loom (Mirrix CEO Claudia Chase actually started out weaving tapestry on one) neither is designed for the other type of weaving.
It would be like if you had a really nice stock pot. You can make a great soup in that pot. It’s fantastic for boiling water for pasta. You love it for making your favorite sauce. It’s a wonderfully versatile piece of cooking equipment. It’s high-quality and you love it to pieces. But would you fry an egg in it? probably not. Sure, you could, but you’d really want a frying pan for that.
Here are some reasons why a Mirrix doesn’t work well for weaving scarves and a rigid-heddle loom doesn’t work well for weaving tapestry:
1.) Tension. The tension on a rigid heddle loom is not tight enough for weaving tapestry. The layers of warp also have uneven tension because of the large shed.
2.) Shed. The shed on a Mirrix is pretty small for weaving scarves. The shed on a rigid heddle loom is inadequate for tapestry because the two sets of warp are held under different tension. The warp that goes through the slots of the rigid heddle are tight whereas the warps that go through the holes (and the ones you raise and lower) are quite a bit baggier, causing uneven tension between the two layers of warp. With tapestry you want all the warps to be under the same amount of tension.
3.) Size. You’d need a fairly large Mirrix or one with extenders to get enough length for a scarf.
4.) Beaters. For tapestry, using a hand beater works well. For scarves, a beater that goes all the way across and constantly evenly spaces your warp is important for beating down the weft evenly. Without such a beater, you are forced you to use a handheld beater, which is not adequate and may cause you to lose your straight fell line.
There are only two looms that I know of that would allow you to weave both tapestry and scarves: counterbalance and countermarch looms. They, like the Mirrix, hold all the warp at the same tension. In fact, they are often used to weave large tapestries. But these are large floor looms that cost many thousands of dollars. For under five hundred dollars you can score yourself a good sized Mirrix (up to 22 inches wide and costing $320 or less) and a small rigid heddle loom ($150) and cook your eggs in a frying pan and your soup in a stockpot.
Still don’t have a Mirrix? Get some help choosing the best loom for you by clicking here.