Fun with Chevrons

A sample of beadweaving in the Chevron Stitch technique, using blue, white, and gold seed beads.
Chevron Stitch trial 1

I have actually gotten back to my beadwork, including design: I started playing (again) with a pattern I found a very, very long time ago. This was my introduction to Chevron Stitch, in The Art & Elegance of Beadweaving, (2002), by Carol Wilcox Wells. Well — actually, the pattern I was playing with a few days ago really isn’t the first Chevron Stitch pattern I ever tried: it’s closer to the favorite version I have of the ones I have tried. Incidentally, it’s fairly individualized due to the beads I used (bead size, type, and color placement differ from the model in the book)…plus the fact that I remembered the pattern differently than the book gave it.

Today, I tried to stay off of the computer during the times we were asked not to consume excess power — the heat wave and running of air-conditioning causes stress on the power grid. It seemed like a good time to follow up on an idea I had during that first delve I had back into Chevron Stitch…four days ago, if the date on my design sketch is correct.

The thing about sketching a design for a project like this: it may end up working differently in reality than imagined. This is one of the reasons I actually like working in both concept and construction: construction serves as a check on design ideas which don’t work in reality. I start out with an idea, that is, and then I go to work it out, and reality has requirements I didn’t think to consider. This doesn’t always happen when writing Fiction…meaning I can get into some labyrinthine scenarios in my own head. But we aren’t going to go there, right now.

My second trial of this pattern of Chevron Stitch, using blue, white and gold seed beads with different color placement.
Chevron Stitch trial 2: different color placement

The thread path I took for my initial version of practice was serpentine, in an up-down sort of way. It’s difficult to describe in words; which is why Wells offers diagrams to illustrate the first few moves of each model she describes. This is extremely helpful for the fact that Chevron Stitch’s beginnings are difficult to visualize without first drawing out (and then editing or at least mentally revising) a diagram, prior to working.

As I gradually found out over the last couple of days, however, it’s also good to be able to let that diagram go when actually attempting the design. There is a logic to the connections between beads that presents itself which is wholly absent in drawing. Drawing will show you things like whether the thread path you envision will work (my design did not, and the good thing is that I realized this before attempting construction), but for some reason, just working it out with beads, needle, and thread, presents a different approach.

Thankfully, this is an approach which actually works. I’m not sure if muscle memory (or other parts of my mind which I don’t currently have vocabulary to describe) is helping, or what. It’s good to get me out of the theoretical spot I tend to spend too much time within, and into reality and practice (which in turn shows me where truth may lie, and how to approach a solution that works with that truth). Particularly…I didn’t realize that the sets of beads I loaded onto my needle, and the beads I would have to pass through, would systematically differ between each row.

A hopeful pencil sketch of the ideal form of a beadwoven piece I wanted to try. It doesn't quite work as intended.
Yeah…this design may not work as intended…Please excuse the fact that this is a bad photo of a quick design sketch instead of a corrected and inked scan…

I also didn’t realize before trying to draw out a pattern four days ago which combined two separate iterations of my samples (briefly, I wanted to integrate them into each other vertically, but knew beginning would likely be the hardest part)…is that Chevron Stitch relates to what I’ll call, “cells.” It would seem that if one has an even number of cells (two open spaces down the center of the weave, or four, etc.), weaving would be straightforward. If one has an odd number of cells (three cells, followed by two cells, followed by three cells, etc.), this is a bit more complicated…in a way that I’m still trying to figure out how to solve.

A broader sample of a band of Chevron Stitch that the author of this post designed, intending to bring the different color placements of the above, together.
A first attempt at combining both of the above color schemes into a wider band. Notice that these cells stagger themselves into high and low groups.

Actually, I’m still trying to figure out what I did in the first place. Take a look at the sample to the right (or just above, if you’re mobile). This alternates 3 cells (where a navy blue “X” goes through a large white bead, leaving 2 cells on either side of a white bead, + 1 cell in a picot unit) with 2 cells (where there is a space between the middle white beads, and a picot forming an enclosure). I don’t know what’s happening with this, really! I thought I did, but then I took a closer look at the photo. Then I went and got the sample.

What the photo seems to say is correct: I’m alternating between 3 and 2 cells. That brings into question the reason why I can’t make a mirror-image between the top of the weaving and the bottom; but the pattern is showing me that the side the picots (the large white beads with the navy points) are on, do alternate.

In my design brainstorm, I drew out the intended beads (with some errors, particularly in that first row), but when tracing the intended thread path, I hit a dead end at the end of the second row — where it would seem I either had to turn back on myself (making two rows of two cells) or needed to weave back into Row 1 (after adding beads I didn’t put there to start with: you see what I mean about Chevron Stitch?) and add almost another entire cell; then weave back forward and make a short row. Maybe??? (The thread might be coming from the wrong direction, which would tilt the dark bead in the drawing. The dark beads in the drawing correspond to the gold beads in the last photo.)

Right now, I’m not sure if the appropriate action is to think on this; or to tinker, and let my hands do what they know how to do.

Somehow in my physical work (the last photo, above), I did manage near-symmetry by working things out with needle and thread, but each side shifts one half-step forward, in regard to the other one…and I realized that the beads I was picking up and the beads I was sewing through, differed (in a repeating pattern) on each pass. Chevron Stitch apparently zigzags by nature, and I don’t know that it’s possible to make a perfect mirror image between the top and the bottom of a chain; the bottom will always be half a step off…unless the technique is modified.

I’m not convinced yet that perfect symmetry is entirely impossible. In specific, I can see an option presenting itself using a Figure-8 or other looping motion at the end of each row (and into the previous row) to position the needle and thread in the right place and direction to work the next row — which might begin with completion of one entire cell. This is similar to the figure-8 movement one does in turning the needle (on one side of the work only) in odd-count Peyote Stitch; a possibility I didn’t see last night or earlier tonight. But that feels a bit advanced, and I don’t know if it will work in reality. Maybe I should try it?

Published by Haruna

Haruna is a Librarian by training, currently pivoting from Public Services into Technical Services. Their undergraduate major was English -- Creative Writing, and they hold an additional small degree in Art (i.e. Visual Arts). They are now pondering whether a career in Academia is viable or desirable, given the current situation.

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