an open source architectural beadwork project from Kate McKinnon and a worldwide team of innovators

A letter from Boston…

Dear Beaders,

I hope this finds you well. I want to catch up, as 2014 winds down, and along with it our time in Boston. I’ve had an amazing six months here, and I feel refreshed and full of ideas. New content is opening on this site at the rate of about a page a day; there are hundreds of pages still to add, and I expect the project to keep growing.

In fact, I’m planning another wave of photography this Spring and your new CGB-inspired work can be included. More on this soon.

In a few weeks, I’ll be heading on home to Arizona to get ready for our official book launch at the Tucson shows. Are you coming? Give this blog a follow, if you haven’t already (the Follow box is at the bottom of this page, if not in the right sidebar) and you’ll get a schedule of the events – Kyle Cassidy and I will be doing signings and portraits at the shows,  and there will be a launch party and at least one photoshoot at my place in midtown.

•  •  •

It’s been a gentle and exciting time  for me here. I’ve been in a new city, and I’ve tried to soak it in, come to know its corners. I’ve explored other nearby places also, but not well; Providence, Philadelphia, Provincetown, Brooklyn, New York City… even the woods of Connecticut and an old graveyard in Rhode Island were on my rotation. I look forward to further prowling; I’ve fallen in love with the East Coast cities; aside from the bridges and buildings, which I adore, I thrive on the sense of immediacy in the air.

philly from the bus 3


It’s an increasingly intense world; a cluttered world, full of beauty, of heartbreak. On this cool winter day, the news is very hard. I practice taking full breaths, thinking about the nature of love, the people I care about. I try to move myself outward, so I can send love out into the atmosphere. I hope it will blend with yours, and spread across the world.

When I bead, I feel like something deep inside me relaxes, unwinds. As the beads dance into shapes under my needle and thread, I feel as if my thoughts become both more orderly and more free; I slowly forget myself. Beading is such an essentially human thing to do; it’s easy for us all to come together in the art form, to want to help each other.

•  •  •

Sales of the books are going very well, for which I’m grateful. Independent books sell on a much smaller scale than the ones that get full distribution, but within category we are a bestseller. The giant press run is nearly paid for, which is a weight off of my mind. Probably by Spring I will be caught up again financially. That will be a celebration!


The Mowgli Bangle Kit, pattern Karen Beningfield, in the Shop now!

I’m issuing a few full kits in a limited edition as a fundraiser for the project; the beautiful Mowgli Bangle (above),  a Zig-Wing by Karen Beningfield that won our collective hearts, went up yesterday, and today I’m preparing the photography for a neat Rick-Rack Brooch that helps teach sizing and tailoring (and looks fabulous pinned to your coat). It will explore some of the ideas in this spread, from pages 28-29 of Volume II.


Sizing and Tailoring intro, CGB Vol II, Kate McKinnon 2014


Everything on these pages is so important to understand; I always feel sad when people cut up or abandon a Zigged Band because it doesn’t fit. Doesn’t fit what? Which? As it says in the Measuring Beadwork box, lower right, the Zigged start shown could grow up to be a piece that is huge or tiny, depending on the choices of the maker.

Often, when we feel that things aren’t going as we had hoped, the conflict is with our expectations, not our potential.


•  •  •


Also, I feel like I’m really getting Amazon figured out, understanding how to use it best to lift all boats.

Thanks to the encouragement of Carole Morris at Spangles4Beads UK, I’ve broken through the series of sticky wickets I needed to get through to supply Amazon Europe directly. I plan to use them not only to reach more beaders, but also to support sales of CGB for Marca Smit at DiMarca Online, our distributor in France and the Netherlands, and Carole, in England.

Amazon works in cascading waves; we can use it to grow our community, support the project, link to the shops that carry the book, and of course it’s the first place that people look for online reviews. Order the book from Amazon with good cheer if that method works best for you, knowing that the books are coming directly from the project, and not undercutting our shops.

If you are inclined to leave a review of your own on any of my books, thank you! It’s the most powerful thing you can do to help them move forward into the future. Reviews (good and bad) have permanent impact on both the work and their creator.

Thank you all for your ongoing interest in the CGB project. It’s really the most fun I’ve ever had, and I’m nowhere near finished presenting our exploring our world of ideas. Please prowl the new additions here on the Book Blog, if you haven’t yet- there is so much available here, on our YouTube channel, and on our Facebook page.


About katemckinnon

Kate McKinnon has devoted herself to the study of how things are done, and how they could be done better. Find her at or on some city street, walking fast, smiling at strangers.

2 comments on “A letter from Boston…

  1. Sunny Gupta
    January 4, 2015

    I have only just found your website and have a dumb question: What is the value of using the belly band? Is it because it provides a strong base for building on both sides? I’m a fairly advanced beader, but your website makes me feel stupid.

    • katemckinnon
      January 4, 2015

      Ha! Laughing!
      That is certainly NOT the goal of the website.

      The MRAW Band is a bunch of different things. First off, it’s a quick, sturdy, non-twisty start that provides a sturdy architectural foundation for any of our forms, and thousands more we haven’t yet dreamed of. It is a real band of support.

      It gives the spatial and structural equivalent of four rounds of beadwork (including the start) in one round.

      It can replace a peyote start, not just once, but forever if you make a starter piece, in fact you can make them in various sizes.

      It can support up to four layers of beadwork with ease, and up to eight with planning.

      It is a threadpath that is very specific- you need to follow it exactly or it won’t be a miracle for you. Skip the spacer, and do it in the same way every time.

      It’s worth your time to explore it, not just as a start, but as an architecture. Dive in!

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This entry was posted on December 17, 2014 by .
December 2014
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