Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad RAW?

Jean Campbell is the senior editor of Beadwork and a
contributing editor to Beading Daily
Spacer 10x10 pixels Who's afraid of the Big, Bad RAW? Right-Angle Weave, that is. Well, to be honest, I was pretty afraid of it for a long time. I meet many beaders who have the same fear, too; they love the look but have a block when it comes to learning it. Even some teachers I know shudder when they come up with a complicated right-angle-weave project because trying to explain how to do it with words can be a big task.
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As I mentioned, I used to be a bit skittish around RAW, but not anymore! It's one of my favorite stitches now. I can credit Marcia DeCoster for curing me of my doubts. As I edited many of her projects, she showed me, through her clean and clever construction, that right-angle weave can be as simple (or as complicated, for that matter) as just about any stitch, and it actually provides more versatility than most.
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Are you one of those folks who have a RAW block? Well, since we're all visual people, maybe some visual clues will help. I put together these little sketches so you can think about one of these images while you're stitching:

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Apartment Units

Lots of beaders find comfort in learning right-angle weave this way: think of the four sides of each stitch as an apartment unit. There's a floor, two walls, and a ceiling. As you add a new stitch in a right-angle-weave strip, you're adding the floor, one wall, and the ceiling of an adjoining floor unit. When you work the second row, you're adding the walls and ceiling of the second floor of apartment units. So, when you make units with more than one bead on any one side, just think of it as a taller or wider apartment.

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The Compass

It makes sense to others to stitch right-angle weave by keeping the directions in mind: North, South, East, and West. Since the beads form a cross, it's easy to picture the lowest bead of each unit as South, the left bead as West, the right bead as East, and the highest bead as North. Note that when you think of your stitches this way, the compass changes as you rotate your beadwork.

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  Tops and Bottoms

I've seen most beadwork instructions written these days using a simple Top/Bottom/Sides strategy. The bead pointing up is the "top." The beads to the left and right are the "sides," and the bead that points down is the "bottom." For this one, keep in mind that a bead that is the top bead of one unit may be the bottom bead of another one.

Do these visual guides help? If so, waste no more time and exercise your newfound confidence! Dive into the absolutely gorgeous right-angle-weave projects offered in Best of Beadwork: 12 Right-Angle Weave Projects. There are all levels of RAW projects in this offering, including four projects by the aforementioned Mistress of RAW, Marcia DeCoster.

Happy beading-

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