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

A new year, three new books

Greetings and hugs to you all on a clear, cold January morning in California. Welcome to 2017! We expect to ship the CGB Pattern Books and Coloring Books on or about March 15th. Update follows. If you want to place a pre-order for yourself or another, or reserve a wholesale order for your shop or studio, there is still time- and we’re sending out some amazing things in our packets, including full subscriptions to our upcoming professionally-built App, and new posters. Click the Wrestler for our shop link.

lil-redWrestler with Warped Square Machine, Kim Van Antwerp 2016
wholesale customers, please email me at

Wherever you are reading from, it’s a bit of a madhouse over here in the USA. It’s a tough time for those of us who work for equal rights for all, who dream of a peaceful planet. Whatever one’s political feelings, it’s always difficult to work hard for something you believe to be important and good, and then see bullies come. Enough about that. But know that we are keeping our chins up here, and that we as a team are more committed than ever to uniting strong and caring humans through art, to international cooperation, peace for all people, and the open sharing of information and resources.

Many of us in the beading world have had life changes in the past year; I myself (after a 25 years of a loving yet long-distance marriage) have become divorced, and this was a sadness in my year to be certain. I’m still sad about it, but I’m back on target as a human being, and I have a lot of positive feelings about life, love and work. 2016 was exhausting, though, wasn’t it? It just seemed like one of those years. Many people we all loved passed away, tumultuous changes have happened across the planet. The biosphere and the governments of several countries are almost free-for-alls right now in terms of theoretical modelling: anything could happen.

How all of this world circumstance relates to beadwork is an interesting question. This is a developing story, and in each update, as our work has progressed, I’ve been able to express more of it.

The answer is all about Hypars, which are everywhere, and how they relate to Peyote Triangles, which are in the same places (and are shockingly sometimes the same thing. Whut?) We must examine flat squares, pyramids and tetrahedra and of course Gons as well: pentagons, hexagons, spheres. We need to get into mirror symmetry, twists (Mobius and otherwise) and how a pulsing point can stretch to become a line, how a line can bite its tail to become a circle, and how a circle can birth increases or decreases to make any form in nature it can bend or fold to. After all, a circle is simply the infinite line, and the line is simply the infinite point.
Patti Hypar

A Hypar, or Warped Square, beaded by Patti DeFazio, 2016

To talk about how these shapes relate to the world around us, we have to talk about the INCREDIBLE FACT that the triangle quadrants (Yes, the sections of a triangle are called quadrants! This is the beginning of the mysteries…) are exactly the same geometry as the quadrants in the Warped Square/Hypar. This is both obvious and mind-bending, and has a thousand implications. We must explore how the Warped Square fits into the same flat footprint as the Triangle, but only when one quadrant of it is folded into the air – which means it is touching space.

Flat squares turn out to be almost completely uninteresting, as they are one of the only forms I know of that is singularly un-alive. The peyote Triangle and the Warped Square (why isn’t this called a peyote square?) bristle with potential; they are life expressed in geometry.

The key to this turns out to be their structure; each one begins with either three (the Triangle) or four (the Hypar/Warped Square) base units. These Elemental Starts (which rely on herringbone increases to grow) give a structure either under tension (the Hypar, which does not fit) or not under tension (the Triangle, which lies flat), but it’s the same actual sort of Thing. It’s just that one Thing is made of three sections, and the other Thing is made of four sections.

The beadwork that these 3- or 4-bead Elemental Starts can grow is delightfully varied in appearance and use. It’s like a round tank is just much like a square shed or a geodesic dome. At the basic level, if they are built of the same materials and technique, they are really much the same, the shapes just have different uses. Round things become square things become round things become Gons or spheres with very little effort.

Once we began studying the two forms deeply, and after we had a major tool-driven innovation at MIT (we realized that any row or round in peyote stitch is a clean dividing point; the work can be cut and separated with no beads lost, and no need even for an Exploding Round), we were overwhelmed to see Hypars everywhere in life, and we suddenly understood the underlying precept of topology, one of the deepest branches of mathematics. Anything can be an edge. Any line can become any shape. There is no essential difference between one number (or bead count) and the next in terms of what that line could become, clone, or birth. We no longer needed to count beads for starts. Ever.

I have started, written, and started over the CGB Pattern Book twice now, and we are beginning the third assembly. The concepts that we have discovered, unearthed, bumbled into, seen after years of staring, however these things have happened, we can see now that by using beads to express these concepts, we have provided a completely unique platform from which to understand the structures of the Universe, genetics, society, potential, how energy can be stored and not seen, how mirror symmetry, in bangles or Universes, can be revealed to be nothing but an illusion at a splash of water (dissolving proteins and threads!) or a pull of a string (Mobius and other twists).

A universe that you thought was a bound system with mirror symmetry can be revealed in an instant to be nothing more than a dense point or pulse, which learned to be a disk, which differentiated into All We See. A financial system that appears to be unbound and chaotic can be revealed, if viewed properly (look for Hypars in data!) as something that while based on disorder itself, can have order imposed on it through the building of structures like hexagons; Dragon Kings are rare events that can be built and predicted. Warren Buffet has said as much explaining the unruly yet highly predictable success of the Berkshire Hathaway investments. It’s just that no one understood what he was seeing. I think we do.

We have seen Hypars in the data on the Greenland ice sheets; 15 degree shifts that simply go “pop”. When poles flip (the Earth does this, did you know?) or when systems abruptly shift from one state to another, if you look carefully, you will see the butterfly wings of the strange attractor (chaos theory) or the Hypar shape in the data. Sometimes you must look very closely, at the nano or pico scale, sometimes you have to pull way, way, back and look at the cosmos (the Kirkwood Gaps, and the incredibly accurate targeting of the Near Earth Asteroids towards our own planet).

What I am trying to do with the CGB Pattern Book is as simple and as complex as a Hypar. We are opening the book with a Triangle, growing it to the size of a cocktail napkin, and then deconstructing it into 4-6 pieces. Same with the Warped Square. Then, we build. Then we connect. Then we show how cloning works, and by the end of that, we have dozens of finished projects, including perfectly fitted complex bangles, and never ONCE did we make a long start – no peyote starts, no MRAW Band starts. Just a three-bead start or a four-bead start to make anything in the CGB universe.

A person can choose either section, Triangle or Hypar, and get the same results. Naturally, we will express them in different patterns, so it will take a minute or two to realize that we made the same exact sorts of things, just with a different approach. We have actually found that some people are simply wired for Hypars, some for Triangles, and this actually is much like life, genetics, magnetism, name it. All keys in life do not fit all doors, but all doors and keys are made out of the same elemental stuff, and so therefore could be the same if they were rearranged.

So the strange thing is, it really doesn’t matter which you use. Triangles and Hypars are all EXACTLY THE SAME, they just live in different dimensions, they feel and behave differently in the hand.

So. We started looking around the universe, trying to find all of the Triangles that were secretly Hypars, with some of their material or energy folded back, stored. (You can think of a Hypar as an energy storage device; when you flip it, that is some serious Go. And it is stored energy.)

We started looking for Hypars that could be folded into Triangles. We found Martin and Erik Demaine, and computational origami, and our minds exploded all over MIT. We found morphing surfaces, and collapsing spheres, and we began going bigger and bigger and tinier and tinier. We found Bricard Linkages and began making cycles, Kaleido and other. These are machines that can represent infinite motion, morphing surfaces, ways to fold, ways to hide, ways to store data or choices.

mary-kearney-kaleidocycle-1-webKaleidocycle by Mary Kearney, 2016

And we realized that we were only beginning to comprehend. And that to write the simple introduction, we had to do the work to understand the complicated middle, and the even simpler solutions.

SO. Almost a full year after the MIT smackup (a smackup is like a smackdown, except it scatters all particles in a lifegiving, upswinging kind of way) our particles are assembling, and I am ready to publish. (Ah, the blessed words.) I’m headed to Tucson on Monday, and Kim and Dustin and I are going to arrange the 200+ pages of the Pattern Book into an order and a sense that describes our journey not in the difficult language of the fields we have had to plunder, but in the ancient language of beadwork.

The goal is for a person to simply get lost in the ideas, and come to the conclusions on their own. I hope we succeed – I really feel that we have put in the work to do so.

As we do the final layout, we are also preparing almost 4,000 pre-orders for shipping and delivery. You will hear from us before we ship, right here in this space- we will give you a link to check your address, and make sure we have you in correctly. I’d expect that our books will be off of the press by March 15 or so, and most of them will ship directly from the press. All of the pre-orders and distributor orders will go first, and of course we’ll be sending promo copies (and hopefully orders!) to all of the bead shops who carry our books.

This has been a mission of love from start to finish, and it’s frankly amazing that with so many people involved in this project, and with so many pre-orders for these books, everyone is simply being wonderful, and encouraging. It’s almost as if you all just know that we are knocking it out of the PARK over here.

Just a little note for those of you who have actually read this entire page – I am so in love with this project and every single person beading with us that we are sending special packets out to every single person who ordered, no matter when their pre-order came in (or comes in). We’re doing new posters to go out with the books, and a few other really small but special things.

We’re also digitizing the work properly, as we’ve always intended to, and included with your books will be not only digital PDF copies, but also a complimentary subscription to the upcoming CGB App– this will be a fun way to keep up with content, see user galleries, and add patterns to your library (ours or others).

Thank you for your excitement, for your patience, for your support, for the incredible work that you have streamed through our cameras. Thank you for your amazing ideas! Your colour combinations, your willingness to share… all of it. Each of us has been drawn to the ancient art of beading for different reasons, but we all bead together.

Huge beady hugs to you all, and please – SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOG if you aren’t already, because this is where we will publish all of the press updates. The Follow Box usually hovers at the bottom right of the screen.

Love, Kate McKinnon
Jan 2017

Pre-order here!

PS- If you haven’t beaded a Warped Square/Hypar yet, why wait? Here is a quick how-to that Dustin and Kim whipped up for their Hypar Earring Kit packet – the desire to hang the Hypar from an earwire is why there is a ring shown included into the weave of the beadwork.


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.

23 comments on “A new year, three new books

  1. Barbara Gravett
    January 13, 2017

    As a long time follower and supporter, it sounds as though this year is a new start for a lot of people. I too am now in a new place with a new beginning and a little out of touch as I have no internet and working long hours. Thank you for the update. Chin up and stay focused. I can’t wait what comes next. Take care and sending much love. Barbara

  2. iamjbm
    January 8, 2017

    Hello, First – as a fairly new beader (couple of years) and a member of the Northern California Beading Society I am over-the-moon excited to meet Kate during her speech to our group in February. I’ll no doubt be in the front row with a rapt expression of abject hero-worship. Kate, you have been one of my primary inspirations and a rock star in my beading world!

  3. Teri F
    January 8, 2017

    I read the whole thing!! Everything sounds so far above my head….but I know how to make triangles and that’s a plus! I’m so excited about the book, coloring book and all the awesome goodies. The journey you’ve taken sounds nothing short of mind blowing! I am sorry about your loss – marriage. Thanks for updating and mostly inspiring,
    Thank you and xoxoxo!

    • katemckinnon
      January 8, 2017

      Do you know what is going to be really neat, though, Teri? You’ll sort of get it all naturally if I get this book right. And you’ll start recognizing things around you… and say, OMG. Hypar.

      • Teri F
        January 9, 2017

        Yay!! I saw a hypar in the sun shade I was looking at today. Woo hoo!! Xoxoxoxo

  4. LeAnn Baehman
    January 7, 2017

    I started playing with warped squares a few months ago. If I could put down the needle, thread, and beads for awhile, I would photo and share. But I’m having too much fun! And, Heaven help me, I just figured out my first hexaflexagon. I am in the middle of the ideas it inspired. Never have I found techniques that exploded into so many new explorations. Fun!

    • katemckinnon
      January 7, 2017

      Can’t wait to see what you do with flexagons and kaleidocycles, LeAnn!!

  5. Barbara Hurlock
    January 7, 2017

    Thank you Kate for such an exciting blog. Yes 2016 was not a good year but things will improve my dear especially with your wonderful enthusiasm. At 87 years old I just hope that I can keep up with you all. Barbara.

  6. petra ricke
    January 7, 2017

    Hi Kate and all the team,

    Kate, I’m really happy that you’re starting to feel better again. Don’t stress yourself too much with the publication/shipping date – CGB fans and beaders in general know that complex and tricky things need their time to become marvellous and striking!

    It’s quite a while ago that you (pre-)announced the new book plus color book , so I honestly don’t remember whether I’ve pre-ordered them or not :(. I think I did but… Would you have the possibility to check and let me know? Thanks in advance! Cheers, Petra

    Petra Ricke

    Am Jesuitenpfad 9

    D-54329 Konz

  7. Brenda Day
    January 7, 2017

    So, so pleased that you have got your sparkle back after a horrid year! What a wonderful, inspiring post, can’t wait to get beading again! Lots of ideas floating around in my head! Parcel finally on its way! xxx

  8. freebird7100
    January 6, 2017

    Love the post, I cant wait to see what geometric bead geekery that you and your team come up with. Sorry for your 2016. It does seem that many of us had rough ones last year. Praise the Lord for faith and beads!

  9. rhalfmoon
    January 6, 2017

    What a wonderful and thought provoking message Kate !
    So looking forward to the books!
    Happy new year!

  10. Mary Lynne Westervelt
    January 6, 2017

    You are truly an inspiration! I love your passion and willingness to put it all out there. This was the best blog I have read in… Well, maybe ever.

    • katemckinnon
      January 6, 2017

      WOW! Cool! Thank you. This has been the most exciting project of my life. It’s always so good to hear from you, Mary Lynne!
      I think of you fondly and look forward to seeing you again. Still in Missouri?

  11. amyfibre
    January 6, 2017

    I think this post is probably the most uplifting, hopeful and positive thing I’ve read in months. Woohoo! Not just for the beady goodness, but for the passion for all of Life and its interconnected wonder. I’m bookmarking this to read again and again when things seem bleak in the world. Thank you, Kate, for shining your light so brightly and leading the charge.

  12. Jan Snyder
    January 6, 2017

    Oh boy! Now you have me waiting impatiently for March to come. I’m really looking forward to receiving the new books.
    I am new to CGB and love it. I’ve always stayed away from beadwork because it seemed so “ordinary”and uninteresting. Then I saw you on Youtube giving a lecture at MIT and I was hooked. Thank you so much for pushing the envelope and for hanging in there when things were tough. You are a trooper for sure.
    Now I’m gong off to make a warped square.

  13. dbednarek
    January 6, 2017

    This is the perfect time of year for me to be reinspired to bead! While I admittedly got a bit lost in your message, more importantly I got excited to get back to geometrics.
    Take care, Kate, and thanks for the energy you send out to us all. At this time in our country, this is something real and creative. Yea!

    • katemckinnon
      January 6, 2017

      I am still savoring your triangles of Cath Thomas’ butterfly design. HUGS to you!! I love having you beading with us, Deb.

  14. beestiegirl
    January 6, 2017

    Hi Kate. It is 6.30am here and I am still in bed reading your blog. My mind has exploded with your love and enthusiasm and excitement.
    Wishing you and your team a wonderful 2017 (free from bullies).
    Cheers from Australia

  15. Paula J Clouse
    January 6, 2017

    One thing that popped into my mind when I was making a warped square once, was how they could be like the teutonic plates. I started playing with it thinking if two of them were connected, albeit flimsily, they could jump out of alignment and “boom” earthquake! I felt like I was six years old playing with a toy, instead of sixty-one beading a star! I am so looking forward to the books and thank you in advance for your generosity of extras!
    Love and Sunshine

    • katemckinnon
      January 6, 2017

      YES there are Hypars in earthquakes, and earthquake data, I’m sure of it! Thank you for your lovely note, always so nice to hear from you, Paula.

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