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

Exploding PodCast BeadALong, Step 3: The Casting Spine

Hello to those of you beading along with us. It’s time to begin the third step of this Exploding PodCast demo: the Casting Spine.

No need to be in a rush to Deconstruct, or to worry about the eventual Deconstruction. It won’t be a Destruction, or if it is, only a few beads will fall off, and you will sew them back on. It’s nothing. Just be sure you have some seriously small, pointy scissors or snips handy when the time comes.

We’ll have a standard pattern for you next week, and in it you will see the organization of terms that Julia Pretl, Diane Fitzgerald and I are working toward. Then, the idea is that Julia, Diane and I will all restructure our books/patterns for the new words (Julia is contributing a gorgeous, open-source illustrated library of Increases and Decreases, which is going to be a great tool) and then we should really have something that can help people relate what they already know to the tasks at hand.

Unstructured exploration is how we do innovation – a bit of organized chaos breeds many and varied questions, and  you know – if we don’t have good questions, then we won’t have the best answers.  So in a process like this, some things will go wrong, some will go right, some will be new, and some will be exceptional.

Step 3: The Casting Spine

This is the simplest section of all.

Weave in your working tail(s) from Section 2, The Wave, and trim. Be sure to retain your starting thread, though, so you know where Section 2 went on. Being able to find the starting point of your section is really helpful in case you need a hand doing Deconstruction. Sometimes I always start a section with a hot yellow bead, or something like that, so I never have to think about it or save tails.

To start your Spine, add three rounds of regular peyote stitch in three different colours or patterns. The 1st and 3rd rounds will be two of the working casting lines on your Spine, and the middle round will be the core. It can be nice to have the core be one colour, and then each of your casting lines have some kind of counting pattern.


Either do straight peyote with a plain turn, for a clean end to your Spine, or start with a loop, like I did.  The loop finish on each end makes the turns really easy to see, and if you like you can just pass through the loop with your thread to make the turn.

To start, I usually make a loop on the end of the thread, and leave a nice working tail at the base of the loop. Then I just start sewing onto the edge of the Wave. Never weave into a previous section in an Exploding Set.

Exploding PodCast Set summary

My Spine was made like this, with two alternating colours for counting on the two live edges, and a solid colour for the core (round 2).

Step One (optional):  Make a loop, leave a 6″ tail

Round 1     Alternating two-bead placements 2 white / 2 blue
Round 2     core:  shiny gold
Round 3     alternating placement in every space, I did orange and red

Round 4 is done AFTER DECONSTRUCTION (we will show that tomorrow) and it is a Stitch-In-The-Ditch. I did mine in all-pink, but I could have put a counting pattern into it too.

Enjoy this last step, and then tomorrow, we’ll Deconstruct the Wave from the PodCast, do the Stitch-In-The-Ditch on the Spine, and then separate the Casting Spine from the Wave.

Below: Round 3 is shown here in all red, so it’s easy to see that it is one line, but in my piece I alternated orange and red so I had a counting variation.

24 bead casting spine only 2


Casting Spine from Exploding PodCast KateExploding Podcast Set with Spine Loops Showing web

The starting loops can be seen at each end of the Pod. They are quite helpful to have both in use of the Spine and in Deconstruction, but you can also do regular straight peyote turns for plain ends. Here is one from Nico Williams like that.

Nico Spine web

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.

16 comments on “Exploding PodCast BeadALong, Step 3: The Casting Spine

  1. sueswayzee
    June 27, 2019

    I have made FOUR attempts to make the exploding podcast, and while I have a great podcast bead from which to start, I’ve managed to screw up the wave or the spine portion every time by missing stitches or whatever. The last time I got a wave, but screwed up the spine; so I threw in the towel, pulled off the ends of my spine, added loops and the core, and got what spine I could out of it. It’s only about 16 inches long, though. Is that long enough? And how do I use this spine in making new things?

    • katemckinnon
      June 27, 2019

      I love your pluck! And it really helps to watch the video, if you haven’t. We are working to finish that chapter of the book now, and I do believe it will answer all of your questions. We will publish it open-source as soon as we are done and we’ve vetted it.

  2. Katherine Young
    April 13, 2019

    After row 3 do you weave in the thread?

    • katemckinnon
      April 13, 2019

      I keep any working thread left on the Spine, as it gets a fourth round after the first Deconstruction.

  3. Carol
    April 11, 2019

    Hi Kate, I finished part 1 & 2 then separated part 2 like the photo showed. How or where do I start part 3? In the description it looks like part 2 is still on the pod & I;m just adding more peyote. I’m lost. I don’t know how/if I could post a pic but I have my 6 rows of red, white & gold separate.

    • Carol
      April 11, 2019

      Never mind Kate. I read a comment above. S ince I’m not going to sew it back on I’ll just do my spine from the separate Wave. 🙂

    • katemckinnon
      April 12, 2019

      Hang on, Carol, you just got a bit ahead. You can add the third section right onto your deconstructed Wave, but let me catch up with everyone else. It’s just three rounds of flat peyote, NOT worked in a circle, but instead with a flat peyote turn at each end. Leave a quarter inch or more of space between ends to make the turn easy. I used loops on mine.

      THEN leave the three rounds on the Wave to do a round of Stitch in the Ditch down the middle.

      The rest of us haven’t Deconstructed anything yet – next week is set aside completely for explorations of what to do with which parts.

      • Carol Anderson
        April 12, 2019

        Thanks Kate. I did 3 rounds of flat peyote off of my detached Wave. It worked very nicely. I used your tip of having different colored beads to help with counting later on. So I’ll wait to find out what ‘stitch in the ditch’ is. Is it just reinforcing the outer rows that have just one thread? I can hardly wait to see what I can make from/with these forms. Should I put another Wave and Spine on my pod so I can do it correctly or can I work from the detached one I have? Thanks again. Carol

        • katemckinnon
          April 13, 2019

          Hi! Did you see the Stitch In The Ditch on the Facebook Live or in the video today, Carol? Stitch-In-The-Ditch goes down into the beads from the top, making the Spine into a crazy useful curl of three live rounds around a core.

  4. RuthAnni Kowalski
    April 10, 2019

    This is so much fun!! I am wondering where to start the spine piece, anywhere? And how do you know where to turn around. The picture seems to show a gap between the starting and ending loops?


    • katemckinnon
      April 10, 2019

      Great question, RuthAnn – You can start the loops RIGHT next to each other if you want, but it can get a little crowded. I prefer to leave a few beads between mine. This Spine doesn’t need to have an exact count. And you can start it anywhere! It’s just plain peyote. It doesn’t care what it grows on.

      I always like to keep my own step-ups in the middle of the sides, never at the tips or corners. Stepping up at an increase line can be awkward for Deconstruction. It works, though, so I don’t worry about it too much.

      • RuthAnn Kowalski
        April 10, 2019

        Thanks for the confirmation. I ran into that problem decreasing on the herringbone points with the step up. Through a lot of trial and error decided it’s best to keep the step out of the point.

  5. cheryl
    April 9, 2019

    Kate, Don’t know if you will see this today, but am i correct that we are building one on top of another? pod–new thread–wave–new thread spine? hopefully i can go home tonight and get this started; have been doing celiini since i finished my zig zag bracelet from the podcast; time to get back to CGB!

    • katemckinnon
      April 10, 2019

      Yes, it’s just as if you built a single piece, except you are finishing your threads in between each section.
      Frankly, it’s not even necessary to do that. You could build the whole Set with one long running thread and these cuts would still work just fine.

      It’s just that finishing these threads makes it nicer for people.
      : )

  6. Rochelle
    April 9, 2019

    Hi Kate,

    Thank you for collaborating with such great beaders on getting a standardized vocabulary for all of these great new techniques! We will all benefit from your work and I am more than grateful!

    I am doing the bead along but I’m a bit confused by the instructions and pictures for the spine. You say you alternated orange and pink, yet I don’t see that in the pictures. I see pink beads abutting red beads unless what I think are pink beads are actually white beads that have a pinkish tinge reflecting from the red. I also seem to see more than two beads circling around the gold beads, yet you talk about only two live edges. Do you just mean three rows of plain peyote with a turn at each end? How about a picture of a straight piece of the spine laid out flat?

    I’m sure it will all become crystal clear. Thanks.


    • katemckinnon
      April 10, 2019

      Thanks, Rochelle, I see what you mean, it can be difficult to follow the lines on the Spine visually unless you know where they are. And my red and orange beads are pretty close in colour. I will definitely add a drawing of the Spine Line into the post right now.

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April 2019
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