To Tutorial Home

Basic Chain Maille Weaves - Taught as Progression

From 2in1, via 4in2, Byzantine, BoxChain, and Full Persian 6in1, to Half Persian 3in1

Note that this tutorial article is INTENTIONALLY made without a single photo. First I want to test, whether words only suffice to describe weaving methods when teaching, e.g. over the web, in chats and other text-only media - and second I'd wish, if you show photos of your results, and tell me about roadblocks you ran into, so I can successively enhance this somewhat special tutorial. Maybe I'll somewhen append photos, as clickable hints, without showing them directly. YOU as learner should invest some efforts first, and not simply 'consume' a cookbook recipe. I promise: A good understanding of weave structures and relations will be the result, if you follow the described way...

First, get two pairs of pliers, and a couple hundred rings with a so-called Aspect Ratio of around five or a bit above - that is the inner diameter of the rings or the mandrel they were coiled upon is five times the wire diameter. This were e.g. 16swg/1.6mm (~1/16") wire coiled on 5/16" or 8mm mandrel, or maybe 18swg/1.2mm on 6mm or 1/4", or 1 x 5mm - further combinations can be easily calculated. If your rings' inner diameter is more than five times the wire diameter, it doesn't matter, just don't use smaller ones, else some later steps of the lesson will be impossible. A recommended material for learners is 'Bright Aluminium', that is comparably stable, and not too expensive; but e.g. Copper, Brass or so are also useable, and preferred by some maillers. Steel (tough to work with) or expensive materials should be tackled later, with some experience under the belt.

If you have these around, rings in the AR 3.5 ballpark (ring inner diameter equals 3.5 times the wire diameter) are also valuable. These were e.g. 16swg/1.6mm coiled on 7/32" (~5.5mm) mandrel, or 18swg/1.2mm on 5/32" to 3/16" (4-5mm), or 19swg/1.0mm x 3.5mm. In that case begin with these smaller rings. This is NOT necessary, but gives you some further options. But now let's start.

The most basic chain, often not even acknowledged as maille is the 2in1 chain, also known as 1-1-1 - made from twisted, oval, or otherwise distorted links it's often seen as factory-made curb chain. Weaving this, serves to learn proper closing of rings. Just take a first ring, close it, add a further ring and close it, and then always add a further ring to the last woven one - rinse and repeat, until wished or needed chain length is reached.

Hint: As opening a ring before closing it increases possible ring distortions, it is of advantage to pre-close half of the needed rings for a chain, and then always add such a closed ring with an open one to the existing chain.

These 2in1 chains are the basis of all maille, but in practice they are seldom woven by maillers, as these are easier bought as machine-made chain. The next step is replacing single rings by parallel ring pairs, to weave 4in2 (2-2-2...) chains. Please just append to the existing 2in1 chain, as all further steps will be simply appended to the previously woven maille - and in the end, you'll have a reference maille piece in your hands. Here the use of preclosed rings is also of advantage - just add a ring pair with an open ring to the chain, close it, and then set a further ring parallel to the previously woven one. This is a first grinding stone, as parallel ring pairs show ring distortions from weaving much clearer as single rings. Train this, until you optimally have difficulties to see any gap between two parallel rings, and also have difficulties to find your closings.

While 2in1 and 4in2 chain are often not yet recognized as maille, the next one surely is. Let's just contine with the 4in2 chain. But now flip the last, just woven ring pair back, one ring to the left, one to the right side of the next-to-last ring pair (nearly parallel to the ring pair a further step back), then split the last straight pair a bit up, and add a new ring 'through the butt crack' of it, grabbing the just flipped-back ring pair's 'back side'. And voilą - you have just woven your first Byzantine cell. And from now on we call a lengthwise woven ring (or ring pair) a 'connector', and the obligue, interwoven two ring pairs a 'cage'; single cage rings or pairs are often called 'wings'.

Add a parallel, second connector ring. Note that a standard Byzantine uses ring pairs as connectors, as so always two parallel rings share loads, everywhere throughout a chain. But there's principally no problem, to use only single-ring connectors. And if the rings are large enough, and there's enough space between the 'cage wings', it's also no problem to use three or even more parallel connector rings. This influences the weave behavior, and so this method can be used to steer it, if for example your available rings don't have an optimal size for a given weave. And it's a design option, if purposefully used. Later you will notice, that parallel doubling up of rings, also called 'kinging', is often used for either purpose when mailleing - some kinged weaves look and even behave vastly different to their nonkinged siblings.

For now we stay at ring pairs, not without cause, as ring pairs can serve as connectors as well as cage construction rings. So add successively two further ring pairs, fold the last one back, and add a further ring pair 'through the butt' to make a second cage. You will notice, that the new cage's ring orientation is the opposite of the previous cell's, quasi mirrored at the connector inbetween them. Now 'rinse and repeat', and you get, what is known as classic Byzantine chain, with successive cages having alternating cage orientations. And if you forgot already: Remember that there's always the possibility to work with preclosed rings where applicable, to make actual weaving work faster, and also enhance quality.

Side note: If you add a further connector ring pair inbetween the cages, before flipping back, you get a 'Half Byzantine+1 (pair)' chain, also known as 'Princess Chain', that has all cages running in the same direction, as the addition of a ring pair effects a chain orientation twist of 90 degrees.

If you worked with small AR~3.5 rings, change over to the larger AR~5 ones now, as the further steps won't work with the smaller ones. But feel free to try, and learn, how the influence of larger rings on a Byzantine chain is, before we tackle the next weave.

Now let's do the opposite modification, and not add two or three successive ring pairs to the just set connector ring pair, but only one pair, directly flip it back and add a new connector. As result you get two stacked cages, without a connector inbetween, and both having the same cage ring orientation. Repeat this, again and again, and you have another new weave in your book - Box Chain. Now play a bit with varying connector pair numbers before flipping back, and find further variation possibilites, useable for design purposes.

Let's take a deep breath, as we tackle the transition into the Persian weave family now. Starting from a Box chain, when adding the rings to be flipped back to create a box cage, do not yet close them when flipping back, but thread them under (inside) the ring pairs of the next-to-last cage, where they normally rest upon. As a result, these rings can not more flop around - AND we have just woven our first Full-Persian chain segment. Now add a ring pair, just as used when weaving Box or Byzantine, and repeat the flipping back and weaving under the previous cage's ring pair with the next two rings. And yes - it is Full Persian Chain, if this is repeated again and again. Just for fun, after a couple of repetitions, count the number of rings, that are intersected by a single ring, everywhere inside a Full-Persian chain. Six, yes? Thus this is Full Persian 6in1.

And as the session is not yet finished, we go again a step back, and now begin to remove rings from a Full-Persian chain, so that one ring layer is either removed from an already woven Full-Persian segment, or directly left away when making the existing chain longer. Try both options, beginning with the 'deconstruct' method - once you successively add only what is needed, strictly maintain the ring stacking scheme of the to be continued ring layers. The result is not more Full Persian, but only three fourths of one. Following logic, this is called 'Three-Quarters Persian' chain - not often used as standalone chain weave, but useful for wrappings of flat objects like coins or gems.

You surely imagine now, what a Half Persian chain is? Yes - the removal of a further ring layer, so that only one 'vertical' and a 'horizontal' one remain to result in half of a Full Persian chain. First work by ring removal, then by leaving directly away when lengthening a chain. Remember to maintain the stacking scheme! And if you count the number of intersected rings of any single one within a chain, you will find the number three - and thus it is Half Persian 3in1.

This shall suffice for the first session. Now begin playing around. If you have rings with several Aspect Ratios around, experiment a bit with, to find Aspect Ratio limits, influence of AR on weave behavior, and ARs, that work especially well for a particular weave (or don't work at all) - and don't forget the kinging option, e.g. also for Byzantine cages' wing rings. Note that it's NOT necessary to start always with 2in1 chain, but most times a more direct start is possible when one of the 'later' weaves in the book shall be made - sometimes other methods can be applied for a direct start. These will not be shown in THIS tutorial - but there are others around, also on my site.

Have fun, and show results... :)

To Tutorial Home