How I Learned to Love Cubic Right-Angle Weave

Ever since I started working on Beadwork magazine, I’ve admired Melissa Grakowsky Shippee’s designs. We were lucky enough to have Melissa as one of our 2017 Designers of the Year. Two of Melissa’s projects graced the cover of Beadwork this year: her Czech Me Out necklace in the October/November 2017 issue and her Silver Twilight Necklace in the December 2017/January 2018 issue. But I only recently tried making one of Melissa’s designs.

A Challenging Project

Melissa’s Silver Twilight Necklace is an intimidating project at first glance. It requires previous knowledge of cubic right-angle weave, and the project level is “advanced.” (But don’t let this deter you! Read on to learn why. For one thing, this project is available in a convenient kit!)

Melissa Grakowsky Shippee’s Silver Twilight Necklace

Melissa Grakowsky Shippee’s Silver Twilight Necklace

I recently learned how to do right-angle weave (see “How To Stitch Right-Angle Weave and its Variations”) and then worked my way up to cubic right-angle weave. So I was up for the challenge of the Silver Twilight Necklace. Plus, the necklace is undeniably gorgeous! Worst case, I figured I could make just the pendant portion and put it on a chain for a faster project.

Cubic Right-Angle Weave

Something about cubic right-angle weave really appeals to me. Maybe it’s the way all the beads sit perpendicular to one another, nice and orderly. Perhaps that comes from my affinity for geometry — I’m also a quilter, and one of the things I love about quilting is the geometric symmetry.

It took me a while to learn cubic right-angle weave, and I confess that I read more than a couple of tutorials on the technique before it finally clicked in my brain. But once I got it, CRAW made all the sense in the world to me. It’s a very logical, methodical stitch.

Cubic right-angle weave ropes especially intrigue me. Stack after stack of beaded cubes, curved into a supple necklace — it has a certain Zen-like quality.

If you want to learn cubic right-angle weave, start with “How to Do the Cubic Right-Angle Weave Like a Pro.” As this article suggests, it’s helpful to use larger beads when starting out. It’s also easier to see what you’re doing if you use different colors of beads for the base and walls of the cubes.

Once you get the basics down, doing cubic right-angle weave is rather meditative. I’ve been surprised by how much I enjoy it!

Silver Twilight Necklace

Melissa Grakowsky Shippee’s Silver Twilight Necklace is available in a kit that includes all the materials you need except thread. Melissa recommends gray One-G nylon beading thread, but I used my trusty old FireLine (in crystal).

The necklace starts with an 18-unit strip of cubic right-angle weave beadwork. This was right up my alley! Here’s my early progress.

Melissa Grakowsky Shippee’s Silver Twilight Necklace

Left: first right-angle weave unit; right: adding the last bead to create a cubic right-angle weave unit

To create the frame for the large Swarovski crystal, you add another 7 units of cubic right-angle weave to your original strip, at a right angle. Then you stitch another leg of identical beadwork and attach the two.

Melissa Grakowsky Shippee’s Silver Twilight Necklace

Attaching the two cubic right-angle weave legs

The magic in this project happens when you add the embellishments. I’ve never designed a bead-woven project, so I have no idea how designers work their beading voodoo. But the size 11 cylinder beads and 2mm fire-polished rounds that Melissa chose for this design are literally perfect. You can actually feel them click into place as you stitch the pendant embellishments.

Melissa Grakowsky Shippee’s Silver Twilight Necklace

Adding the cylinder bead and fire-polished round embellishments

The embellishments also add a lot of structure to this piece. I was amazed at how sturdy the pendant was by the time I finished it. And the crystal AB cylinder beads and crystal full Labrador fire-polished rounds add just the right sparkle to accent the blingy crystal AB stone focal.

I haven’t finished my Silver Twilight Necklace yet, but the hardest part is done. Now I just need to make some cubic right-angle weave straps and attach them to the pendant. Easy-peasy!

Melissa Grakowsky Shippee’s Silver Twilight Necklace

Finished pendant portion of the Silver Twilight Necklace

Melissa Grakowsky Shippee is truly a beading genius. I already enjoyed cubic right-angle weave before making her Silver Twilight Necklace. But now that I see what’s possible with this stitch, I think I’m in love! (With CRAW! And possibly with Melissa, too!)

Happy beading!
Lavon Peters
Managing Editor, Beadwork magazine

Get Melissa’s Silver Twilight Necklace kit in the Interweave Store and other beautiful designs in December/January 2018 Beadwork.


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