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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wave Good-Bye to 'First Row Ripples'!

This present bead weaving is considered a 'wider weave', 67 beads wide, opposed to many pieces woven by beaders. Cuffs can get wide, maybe even 40 beads wide (2 1/2"), but not as wide as this cell phone bag panel. This is a good time to reiterate how to deal with a 'long wavy first row'.

I receive numerous emails, asking me this very question, "Is it OK that my first row is not laying straight?". To answer this question, I will share some of my first few rows, on this cell phone bag panel. It may have been discussed before, here on my Blog or in my Website, but I feel it is worth discussing again.

Below is a picture of my first row, 67 beads wide, secured on the warps, as any other loomed row of beads. Notice how wavy this looks. This is exactly why some loom companies offer a loom they feel is created for 'various types of beads', (Czech, Delica, etc., but all 11/0). It's the spacing of the 'weft separator' that we are told makes all the difference. I strongly disagree, with this assumption. I use the same loom, some width separators, for most of my weaving, (The only time I change up looms is to acquire a larger 'loom table', for larger pieces, sized larger then the loom.). If you start in the center of your loom, center of your pattern, any loom will work. The other option is to just ignore the wavy reaction, as I do here.

If you prefer to start out with a 'straight row' of bead weaving, or feel you just are not sure it will work out as planned, then cut a length of 24 gauge craft wire. Thread this through the entire first row of beads. You can see in the picture below, it will straighten out the beads perfectly. Since you are not running your needle back through that row, then it can sit till you feel comfortable enough to pull it out, or if you need to remove it for your finishing techniques.

I feel comfortable keeping the row of beading as it is, without the wire support, especially for long rows. My hand is not wide enough to reach across the row, without rippling the beads, to run the needle through the rows that follow. Therefore, I can almost, 'grab my long row of beads' in my hand and release the row as my needle is threaded into the next row.

Below is a picture of how the rows will 'shake out' straight, if you don't thread the row with wire. You can still notice a wave, but it is getting much better.

Now that I have completed 28 rows, of the pattern I created, the 'wavy first row' is no longer an issue! It gets even better, after the piece is cut from the loom!

The best advice is to make yourself feel comfortable about what you are weaving. Use the wire technique if you feel you need to see a more uniform look, or just let it work itself out, as the rows increase. Weaving beads on a loom takes a lot of 'special time' and the last thing anyone wants is to feel they have to cut the warps and start over!


  1. I haven't made a cuff this wide yet but plan to. So far if the first row is wavy I just ignore it and by the third row or so it is nice and straight. Guess I will see the difference when I make my first wide cuff. Thanks Erin.

  2. I think so, Kristine. Just ignore it. You know, even an extra needle, longer then the bead loomed row, will work to hold the wave straight, if you want to use something and do not have any craft wire. (Just don't loose the needle in the row! lol)

  3. This is an old, old post Erin, but SO helpful to me today. Thank you

  4. Carla, thank you for showing me things I wrote a while ago. I feel the same about this method, but there are other points I originally shared that I have since changed. I love you brought me back to this!

  5. I needed this today, a woman on the Loomie Bin reminded me it was here! So appreciate you and your helpful Blog!

  6. First make sure your not pulling your thread to tight.. I like the idea of wire as I am working on some large (pictures) something like 104 beads across. If you just doing a regular size piece you could even use one of the long needles to steady the work till your satisfied. If you thread the needle you can just pull it out when your ready..