European 4 in 1 Chainmaille Weave

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It’s a lovely little weave – most chainmail enthusiasts will call it the ‘beginners weave of beginner’s weaves.’  A LOT of folks start their maille-crafting with this one.

It’s easy enough, I’ll give it that.  Each center-ring in the pattern goes through 4 other rings (which is why it’s called 4 in 1).  It’s easy enough to expand the single-length chain into a sheet weave by adding new rows to your existing one.  You can even collapse a 3-ring strand of it in on itself, add a 2nd row of center rings to stitch up the back and make a box chain out of it.

People usually use this versatile pattern to make all the maille wear you see – shirts, belts, gloves & skirts. Making this weave into an expanding circle will give you the bottom for dice bags and the tops of coifs (those maille caps worn under a more solid helmet).  Some people make thick chokers from this pattern, and because of the extreme flexibility of this weave, you can use it for sculptural applications as well, making triangular patches to stitch together.  Most of the folk doing inlay work (think cross-stitch with little metal rings instead of embroidery knots) also use E 4-1 as their main pattern.

A whirly group shot

My Whirly pattern is based off a slightly bastardized version of E 4-1.

European 4 in 1 is the common textile sheet of the chainmaille world.

Now…I’ve only been doing chainmaille for a year and a half, and I’ve only ever built a E 4-1 chain twice.  Both were single-strand lengths of chain, and I hated them both.

At the single-strand formation, the end rings are waaaaay too flippy.  They pop out of place.  They twist backwards.  The weave is NOT stable.

I started mailling instead with byzantine – another beginner’s pattern (and still a pattern I love to this day), and went forward from that into circular chains (the Persian and Turkish lines, mainly) because those are patterns are all stable within a short length.  You can even make a box chain by starting with Byzantine instead of E 4-1.  And, damn it…Byzantine is easier to freaking TYPE.

Chainmaille Dragon Face close in

Well, I’ve wanted to make wings for my little dragon for quite some time…because a dragon just HAS to have wings.  It’s what makes him so majestic and terrifying and stuff.  A dragon without wings has more in common with a horse or a dog than a flying, fire-breathing, terrifying reptile swooping down out of the sky like death on wings.  So I sat myself down this weekend, and decided to make a patch of this ever-so-versatile weave to see if that would get the job done.

 

Remember, I said E 4-1 can fold over onto itself and make a box chain once you stitch up the back end…so the burning question that sat me down to tackle this versatile-but-I-don’t-like-it weave was:  What would happen if I boxed up individual 3-row sections of the sheet weave?  In my head, I could see such a configuration looking a LOT like the skeletal structure within wings.

So I sat down this weekend, and wove my first sections of E 4-1 sheet.  2 sheets of rings 6 sets-of-3 wide by 27 rows deep.  350-ish rings per patch.  Just the right size for my little dragon to have wings.

I must say, I have to revise my position on the weave.  In a sheet, the entire pattern stabilizes.  The thing no longer wants to curl up, the ends no longer flip-flop around like a fish on the deck.

But the whole box chain within E 4-1 thing?  Well…that needs some more work.   Guess my imagination is more vivid than the rings will allow me…

Dragon Wings:  1.   Me:  0.  

For now

700-ish rings now locked in a pattern with no place to go but the ‘Well, THAT didn’t work’ pile, and no real will to tear it all out.

Maybe I’ll stitch the pair together and make a coaster out of it…someday.

 

 

 

 

 

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