Friday, August 12, 2011

Beading Tutorial: Square Openwork RAW

Bejewelled Right Angle Weave Cuff

Although right angle weave is considered a beading stitch, it is really more of a method, because the are no limits to the ways that we can use it to connect and weave beads of all shapes and sizes. The basic right angle weave stitch developed by David Chatt is built from a unit of four seed beads in a cluster, using a single needle technique. The figure-eight motion of the thread can also be applied to other bead sizes and shapes, or multiple bead units, and is a more complex version of a double needle stitch called cross weave.

A recent Bracelet a Week design using openwork RAW with square units sparked a discussion on the shape of this right angle weave variation. A finished panel will have edges that are rounded, instead of straight like the inner units. The inside walls of each row form straight vertical and horizontal lines because they are being pulled in two different directions by the path of the thread. The sections along the sides of the beadwork are less structured, because they are not anchored by neighboring units. Fortunately, there is a way to tighten up these edges without drastically changing the look of the beadwork.

How to Stitch Square Openwork Right Angle Weave:

First, determine how large you want each window or cluster to be, and how many beads will be needed for each wall of the RAW units. Pick up four sets of these beads to make the base RAW unit. For this example panel, each unit will have 3 beads per side, so 12 seed beads are needed to start.

Right Angle Weave Tutorial Openwork Right Angle Weave

Weave through all of the beads again and pull snug to form a circle, then pass through the first three sets of beads. You don’t need a stop bead to work this stitch, but it does help to keep the tail thread secure at the desired length, and provides good tension for the base unit.

Pick up three sets of seed beads (9 for the example stitch), and pass through the previous set of beads in the ring, moving in the same direction as the working thread. Pull snug to form a ring with the new beads, which now shares one ‘wall’ with the previous unit.

Right Angle Weave How-To Square Openwork RAW

Pass through the first two sets of beads just picked up and pull snug. The beadwork should now begin taking on the square shape, which will even out as new rows are added. As you work, try to remember the basic figure-eight motion of right angle weave.

Pick up three new sets of beads, and chase the thread through the previous unit, passing through the shared wall of beads. Pull snug to form the new square. Continue adding units this way until the panel reaches the desired width or number of squares.

Openwork Right Angle Weave, Row One Openwork Right Angle Weave, Row Two

To begin the next row, weave through the final unit added to step up, exiting from the top wall. Pick up three sets of beads and add a new cluster as before. Pull snug, and pass through the first set of beads just added.

Pick up two sets of beads, and pass through the top wall of the unit below, in the previous row. This will form a new unit with two walls being shared instead of just one. Pass through the entire square, and through the next set of beads from the previous row to begin the next unit.

Adding Rows to Openwork Right Angle Weave Right Angle Weave Thread Path

Hint: If your base row has an odd number of units, your thread path will move in the opposite direction. Just follow the figure eight pattern, making sure that each new stitch is shared with the last unit added, and the row below. Continue building rows until the panel reaches the desired length.

You can see how the beadwork has a grid-like shape in the center, but rounded edges. To help add structure to the outer walls, simply add seed beads between each set. This will give the outer walls a stronger foundation.

Square Openwork Right Angle Weave Adding Foundation Beads to Openwork RAW

Once a bead has been stitched into each set on one side, you can see the difference in shape. If you are working a long panel of square RAW, the beadwork may begin to pucker as you add the foundation beads. To prevent this, weave all the way around every third or fourth unit as you add seed beads. This will anchor the thread so that it doesn’t pull on previous stitches and allow the beadwork to remain flat.

Embellished Openwork Right Angle Weave

This openwork stitch is great for bracelets, but can also be used to make beaded beads, necklace straps and chokers, and pendants for bib necklaces. It is also really fun to embellish with accent beads or seed beads in a contrasting color.

Happy beading!

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  1. Oh I is fabulous base for embellishing with anything. I once used bugles in the corner & it turned out great. Now I'm doing some Melanie Potter kits & wow, the ideas are just bouncing inside my head on how to use netting & RAW for base

  2. Oooh, that tip for firming the outer walls just made my day. Now my head is full of new ideas. Thanks!

  3. Awesome! After banging my head on the wall for the longest time trying to figure raw out, it is now my favorite stitch! I find it very relaxing to do and you can do anything with it!

  4. I haven't tried this, but I wonder if it would work.

    If an extra bead were added on the outside corners, in running the thread back around the square a second time, the extra bead on the corner would be skipped. Wouldn't this square up the outside blocks and make them look more uniform?

  5. It's worth a try! Let me know if it works!

  6. Hi there!! I just made a chain of beads... :) Thanks to you!

    But I'm still a bit confused about adding another layer of beads...
    I don't understand this part:

    "Pick up two sets of beads, and pass through the top wall of the unit below, in the previous row. This will form a new unit with two walls being shared instead of just one. Pass through the entire square, and through the next set of beads from the previous row to begin the next unit. "

    Can you please explain this part to me?

  7. Hi GamerGal! It really helps to refer to the photos, or to follow the steps while you are stitching. Once you've added the first unit of a new row (using 3 sets of beads), every unit after will only need 2 new sets of beads, as two sides of the unit will be shared with those already in the beadwork.

    Check out the tutorial for basic RAW here: It may help to look at the stitches with a single bead in each 'set' to see how the thread path moves in additional rows.

  8. Thank you!!! I looked at your pictures more closely and finally figured out how to add another row of beads! :D

    Now I have a bracelet with 4 four rows of beads! And I'm going to find the right kind of bead for embellishment... :) ALL THANKS TO YOU!!!

  9. Can u explain how to add the embellishments?

    1. In the bracelet pictured, the fire polish beads are stitched between the cells on a diagonal. Exit from one RAW wall, pick up an accent bead, then stitch through the above wall, moving in the opposite direction. Your thread will essentially make a Z shaped path with each new accent added.

  10. I just made one with pale yellow luster Delica's, am putting pale yellow 4 mm pearls as my embellishment. With the Delica's, the reinforcement on the outer walls went perfectly with no pucker at all. Really like this, but is pretty slow going at first.

    1. Sounds gorgeous! Any variation of RAW does take a long time, and eats up a lot of thread, too! The benefit is that the beadwork is really strong, even when you use an openwork stitch like this one.

  11. Could you please let me know what size or type of thread you used. I have mastered the stitch and embellishing using 11/0 seed beads and 5mm crystals and Nymo thread (I tried Wildfire but it's too thick). However, even with Nymo, when I get to the embellishing stage, there is no room for the thread inside these tiny beads. Or, sometimes I can squeeze in the thread for the embellishing, but then don't have room to add the clasp on the ends. I've made a bracelet three times now, trying to get it right but just can't finish it as I can't get the thread through the last bits. Very frustrating!

    1. Hi, Julie! I use 6lb test Fireline for almost all of my projects, and most of the time it will work with even the most elaborate stitches. One thing to consider apart from your thread is the type of beads that you're using. Anything with a coating on the inside - such as color-lined or silver-lined beads - will have much narrower openings, and are usually full after only 2 thread passes. Some brands, finishes, or even color batches are simply just too tiny for stitch-heavy techniques like this one.

      I definitely recommend trying Japanese round seed beads for any project where you'll be adding a second layer of beadwork onto an existing one. It also helps to have a size 13 needle on hand for stitching through tight spaces. The other bonus to using Fireline is that it is stiff enough to simply pass through some beads without a needle.


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