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

Counting beads

One of the most confusing things about beading for most of us is counting. I personally have found it challenging, as anyone who has beaded with me knows.  : )

People have different ways to count rounds, side beads, and increase beads. For the Exploding Sets, Dustin came up with a nice way to get a grip on how to show both the round count and also give a nice tool for beading the work: the Core Sample.Screen Shot 2017-02-18 at 10.07.34 AM.png

Handily, one half of any one of the increase bars that radiate from the centers of the Exploding Sets makes a perfect colour key (a Core Sample) for beading them, as each round of work is all in one colour of bead.

For the final book pattern, we might start each of the Exploding Sets with three white beads in the center, so that each Section is the same (white on the inside, black on the outside). We’re visually partial to the idea of the Hot Red Center, but of course we want to be kind to beginners. Sameness can be greatness. Do you have an opinion? Feel free to comment.

Here is a look at Kim taking an Exploded Triangle Set apart. You can see that it’s easiest to work from the corners.

You’ll notice a few extra beads in the black rounds of the one in the video, because Dustin beaded it, and he added our Dot Code to the corners. You can see Round 32 (three and two red dots) there in the screencap of the video.

We’re thinking about putting some Dot Code into the black rounds of the basic pattern in the book – it’s so helpful when we’re using the pieces for Casting Models.

Dustin Counting Triangle 10 20 30

This piece, the Bermuda Triangle, sports not only Dot Code for the round numbers (I see Round 36 there at the end) but also includes the very Boy Scout or Ham Radio touch of the one-bead salute, which means, “Alert! Information coming!”

See the final round? It says, “Alert! Round 36” .

The previous red dots say “Alert! Round 20” and “Alert! Round 10!”

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.

8 comments on “Counting beads

  1. Lisa Brenner
    March 5, 2017

    Just finished my Exploding Hypar Set in the pattern colors and amazed my husband by exploding it. Loved not having to bother with detonation beads. I’m ready and excited to move forward! XXX

  2. Susan Mattison
    February 20, 2017

    I am always intrigued and dazzled by the math (counting?) that is inherent to Geometric Beadwork. I noticed that the Row Numbers for both the Flat Peyote Triangle and the Hypar (Warped Square) are equal to the number of beads added per section in that row, regardless of its shape! For example, in Row 16, one adds 16 beads per side to the “Starter”. That would be 4 x 16 = 64 beads added in Row 16 on the Warped Square and 3 x 16 = 48 beads added in Row 16 on the Triangle! If you double the the beads added in a row you will have the total row count (circumference). I know that for myself, a cylinder bangle needs to be a total of 144 beads around (in peyote) to fit my thin wrists.144 divided by 2 is 72. 72 divided by 4 sides of a square is 18 beads added per round, or 72 divided by 3 sides of a triangle is 24 beads added per round. Therefore to get “My Fit”, for a snug fitting bangle. I would want my starter section to end with Row 17 if a Square and Row 23 if a Triangle. Have I blown your mind or turned it to slush?

    • Susan Mattison
      February 20, 2017

      Oops, my mind wasn’t fully engaged when I did those calculations! I forgot that the corners of the square and triangle are not done in peyote but have 2 beads added in herringbone. So to get my bead count of 144, I would need my starter section to end with row 18 for a square and row 24 for a triangle. Then my FIRST NEW ROW of peyote for a bangle would have only a SINGLE bead added at each corner to give the correct bead count in circumference, It would be like the first row of peyote added after a wing or horn is completed.

      • katemckinnon
        February 20, 2017

        You can see how it is making ANY definitive statements about counting. Instead, we’re doing something MUCH simpler. Laughing!

  3. Suzanne Golden
    February 18, 2017

    Thank goodness for your Geometric work. I kind of lost interest in beading because I see no real contemporary updates or changes.

    Everything has been looking the same to me.

    Further, for the first time in 16 years, I am not going to the Bead and Button Show. I actually had no interest in any of the classes.

    I’m in touch with a friend who attended one of your workshops…Karen Sam Norgard….. We discuss via emails all the wonderful ways of working with geometrics.

    What is amazing to me that not until now has anyone ever figured out how to separate pieces before to make starter strips!!!

    How ingenious!!! And so damn easy!!!

    Will be making some sample pieces for me to play around with and test out these incredible theories…

    Looking forward to seeing all the new techniques..thanks for all the inspirations!!!

    xox Suzanne


    • katemckinnon
      February 18, 2017

      Wow, I can’t imagine a Bead & Button show without you there! I would point out that Kim Van Antwerp is there for our team, teaching Warped Squares (Hypars) and everything that goes along with them. She’s going to rock it, and I think Dustin will be there with her too.

      I agree that it is kind of mindbending that we haven’t done this before. We did, in Volume II, with the Exploding Round, but it was so much more bother than this. This is where it’s at!

      Thanks for the comment, Suzanne, I really look forward to showing you our finished Pattern Book, and seeing if you think we succeeded with the simplicity.

  4. LaurieNapa
    February 18, 2017

    Oh my gosh – this is so thrilling! This is amazing and fascinating work. I’m so excited for the book, and it’s awesome of you to send out all this information to get started! Can’t wait! big hugs

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