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


Greetings, all. Much to tell this week, as we head into one of the busiest times in the history of the CGB project. If you’re interested in the timeline of the new books or in the reprinting of the old books (June) this update will fill you in.

If you received this update in your email, it is because you subscribe to the Book Blog. All replies to the email will post as public comments to the blog. Please direct communication to Malan BatCycle webBatCycle: Beadwork and colour design Emma Malan, architecture Claudia Furthner

For those of you who are new to us, welcome. CGB is unusual. We’re an open-source research team (not a business enterprise). We’ve been on a whirlwind tour of discovery since 2010, and we’re about to wrap up our work with: an open-source technical manual, a huge Pattern Book to teach how to make our designs, and an academic textbook.

If you’re on our list for a first edition of the Pattern Book, and you aren’t interested in the process, don’t feel that you have to wait for us! At any time, if you are impatient for the books, just email your receipt for the pre-order to, and receive a refund. We don’t mind a bit, and there is a long wait list of bead nerds who are hoping that there will be a few pre-order bundles left over. The book will go for sale again officially as soon as we actually go to press.

We’re very accessible, too. We schedule time online, answering questions or just beng helpful, and we’re reachable on our Facebook page, or over the email. A couple of weeks ago I also started a Live BeadALong online on Facebook on Friday evenings, and for an hour or so I answer questions and do demos. This evening, I’m going to try to cross-post the session, so I should be able to give a link to watch later for those who don’t use social media.

Take a look at what we are still working on for the books. It’s exciting stuff, and almost finished.


I’m working this month and next with Julia Pretl and Diane Fitzgerald to refine and standardize an open-source illustrated key to describe corners, peaks, valleys, and all of the increases and decreases we use to create them. I’m so appreciative for this joint effort, and plan to include it in all of our books.

This is why I’ve let Volumes I and II run out of print – I wanted to update their Basics sections to include the new starts, and this new beautiful key.



When Joy Davison discovered the Spine for us last fall, we realized that had we had found a real secret – the specific boundary in our materials between the smallest (and least stable) line and a strong, useful live line that can birth other forms. The turning point turned out to be just one odd move; a Stitch-In-The-Ditch (SITD) pass that put wave information into three flat rows of peyote stitch.

Progress up a Spine Kate McKinnon

The tail of this piece is just the Spine, lively, energetic.

If you’ve made one, you know how it works – the SITD goes up and down, in and out, and it transforms a loose collection of single units in three unstable lines into a solid four-line wave with a central core and three live lines.

This idea of giving wave information to matter to create a new form or to harness energy is elemental science, and it matches what we see in biology, materials science, and physics.

The Spine and the PodCast are the best ways we know to start anything, and so all of our patterns are being converted to use them to start. Starting from loose beads is like starting a fire by rubbing sticks. It’s good to know how, but from a practical standpoint it’s better and faster not to have to. Even MRAW (our original start from Volume I) takes too much time, and too much counting.

The Exploding PodCast Set is the best way for people to get the best Spine possible. And we can load it up with all manner of thing. Right now, we’re working open-source to get the best two basic sets, and then we’ll start the new book and the new Basics section with those explosions.

Exploding PodCast Set summary



This summer, we’re also taking a team of nine to the Bridges Math Conference in Linz, Austria, and right now we are finalizing our submissions for their fashion show. I’m proud to say that 16 of our pieces have already been accepted into the show gallery and will be published in the conference proceedings.

This is wonderful for us, because the way the work overlaps with math and science is what we are all about – and this is the first time architectural beadwork will have made a real showing at that gathering, so we’re extra-happy about it.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BEAD WITH US FOR THE FASHION SHOW, WE NEED YOU! (everyone who contributes will be credited)


1)  NOVA SCOTIA RETREAT  (email Sam about this:

Join the late June retreat in Nova Scotia with the wonderful Sam Norgard, professor at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Sam is art-directing several of our submissions, and you can take part in the retreat and join. I’ll be participating too, but perhaps not in person (we are moving to DC at that time). Sam is an amazing artist. Her colour sense will knock your socks off, and she is one of the best craftspeople I know.

Arrive June 23. Leave June 30, 7 nights
5 people in Sunset Cottage, 6 in Yellow Door House

There are nearby AirBnBs and hotels, etc. for anyone wishing.

Cost is $1450 and includes seven nights of accommodation, breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Dinners are not included.

The studio will be open from 9 am – 9 pm.
A $500 non-refundable deposit will hold your seat. 


Below, an incredible Power Puff – Beadwork and colour design by Sam,
architecture by Jean Power.  


We’ll have a couple of big pieces (like a dress covered in butterflies) that we will be asking for help with.

More info on this soon. This week, we are sketching/writing.

Hugs to all, and back into it I go. See you tonight if you are BeadALonging with us on Facebook.



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.

35 comments on “Updates!

  1. L Durkin
    August 9, 2019

    In one of your videos you said to use nymo on a cone and not a spool. What size do you use? Also where do you buy it? Is there more than one manufacturer?
    Love your work!

    • katemckinnon
      September 6, 2019

      I like the three ounce cone, and I use size B in brown, red, and sometimes blue. I dislike the blacks and whites, but that is just a personal thing. It is manufactured in Italy, and it is meant to be upholstery thread. Fire Mountain Gems has the best selection of colours, and if you use their silly program of buying a certain number of things you can get a deep discount.

      You can buy 100 5 cent things and get a deep discount that spending $300 would not get you. So if I want a spool of thread, that’s kind of what I do.

  2. jacisne53
    July 17, 2019

    I too would like to be on the preorder cancellation list. I know it is a long shot but please add me to the list.

  3. Cheryl
    July 6, 2019

    Can I be on the pre order list if there are any cancellations please? Thanks. Cheryl

  4. Tracey Turner
    April 28, 2019

    Dear Kate,
    Thanks for all you do. I know it’s a long shot, but please add me to the pre-order wait list. Looking forward to this publication.

  5. vee2011
    April 28, 2019

    Thank you Kate! I’m playing catch-up with all the work CGB is exploring and creating! I look forward to the Live BeadALong online on Facebook on Friday evenings! Thank you so much for the inspiration. Best wishes Vee

  6. Laurence Lemperiere
    April 28, 2019

    Hello there ! Could I be in the pre-order list too ? I live in Europe, I hope it’s possible to get the printed books here ! Thanks for the incredible work, I’m just amazed by the possibilities !

    • katemckinnon
      April 28, 2019

      Hello, Laurence, pre-orders closed a long time ago, the list I speak of is just in case any of those first edition bundles become available (and there are hundreds of people on it already!)

      All new European orders, though, will be fulfilled by Amazon Europe, and this will greatly cut the cost of your shipping. Amazon just ships for me, they don’t control the books.


  7. Cheryl
    April 27, 2019

    So exciting! Would love to be on the pre order list as well please. Thanks for all the excitement and enthusiasm. Can hardly wait!

  8. Galen Nippert
    April 27, 2019

    I have books I and II, and have been kind of overwhelmed by them. I finally decided to just DO IT, and found out that doing the hands-on work is the secret. I am in love with MRAW, and now there are all these new starts to learn! I want to learn everything at once!

    • katemckinnon
      April 27, 2019

      I also want to learn everything at once!

  9. morristhecat22
    April 27, 2019

    I just looked for your first book on Amazon and it’s $870.00 is that correct????

    • katemckinnon
      April 27, 2019

      Ha Ha Ha
      It’s just momentarily out of print, and the Amazon bots are pricing it accordingly. I’ll email you and see if you want me to send you one. : )

  10. Carol Romano Geraghty
    April 27, 2019

    Sam will be teaching this bracelet at the Hilton Head Bead Society in October 2019. Anyone is welcome to sign up to take this class.

    • Kathy C
      April 29, 2019

      Oooh – I would love to attend that! My in-laws live on HHI. Is it open to non-members? Are there any seats left?

      • Carol Romano Geraghty
        April 29, 2019

        Yes. It’s open to non members. Class is $125.00

  11. Carol Romano Geraghty
    April 27, 2019

    For those of us that have Volume 1&2 will we be able to get the updates on the basics that you are reworking for your republish? Thank you

    • katemckinnon
      April 27, 2019

      The Basics Sections are Open Source and free online to all!

  12. katemckinnon
    April 26, 2019

    Alles aan het werk op hetzelfde moment!

  13. Patricia Wren
    April 26, 2019

    Another thing I find useful is to use different colored thread for each segment of the basic podcast, was, and spine elements. Black, red, blue, brown… if I have a couple of starter ends dangling I can readily see which one is which.

    • katemckinnon
      April 26, 2019

      That can be very helpful.

    • Patricia Wren
      April 26, 2019

      Sorry for the typo, that was supposed to read “WAVE,” not “was”—!

  14. Patricia Wren
    April 26, 2019

    Just noticed (I’m slow on the pickup sometimes!) that if one WANTED to put in an MRAW row for design reasons, or change to other stitches, the Starting forms can make it easy too. Some of the early CGB designs were enhanced by that delicate little row of openings, however fussy to make originally.

    I know the “end” is in sight (CGB will NEVER end!), your sight anyway, and I’m getting really excited. Based on what’s already available the explosion will be stupendous. The beading world will never be the same. Love it.

  15. Trisha Gray
    April 26, 2019

    Great newsletter!

    Is it possible to receive the new added additional start info for our previously purchased volume 1 edition? Could not find info on this.

    Fascinating progress!

    Trisha Gray

    Sent from my iPhone


    • katemckinnon
      April 26, 2019

      Our Basics technical sections are always free to all online, Trisha, so absolutely. As soon as that part is finished, it will be published here. The Spine and Exploding PodCast ideas are the last parts of that section.

  16. Diane Fitzgeralddmfbeads
    April 26, 2019

    Let me second your recommendation regarding Sam Norgard and the retreat she is offering in Nova Scotia. I have met Sam and have seen the work she elicits from her students and it is impressive to say the least. This is a rare opportunity to work with Sam since ordinarily you would have to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design to have a class with her. Plus it will be held in beautiful, probably cool Nova Scotia.
    Diane Fitzgerald

    • katemckinnon
      April 26, 2019

      Yes, she is an extraordinary teacher and artist. What a nice recommendation, thank you Diane! I have been long hoping to spend time there with Sam. If our move dates permit it, I am going to fly up myself. Hopeful!

  17. Marie Kulchinski
    April 26, 2019

    Please add my name to the waiting list for the Pattern Book and Volume III. I have just received Volume I and II as ebooks and love them. As storage for books gets more limited, moving more material to the ebooks is great idea. Then, I can print a pattern on demand. It saves a whole lot of trees.

  18. Leslie Russell
    April 26, 2019

    I am in awe of all of this beadwork! My brain is trying to comprehend it all and my fingers are tingling with all that awaits. Thank you CGB! xo

  19. Irene Landaw
    April 26, 2019

    Hi Kate. I’m pretty sure I’ve long ago pre-ordered the final book, including patterns & instructions. From this post it looks as if the new bundles will include updated volumes I&II, with instructions added. Is that correct?
    What if I’m already on the list for Book III only, but want updated volumes I&II?

    Sent from my iPhone; Please excuse my iThumbs!

    • katemckinnon
      April 26, 2019

      The orders for the Pattern book won’t include new paper copies of volumes I and II, no, but they will all have the new Basics section printed inside them. Everything will be back on sale again as soon as we know we are ready to ship.

  20. Lisa Harders
    April 26, 2019

    Is there an actual wait list for left over pre-order bundles? If so, I’d love to be added to it.
    Lisa Harders

    • katemckinnon
      April 26, 2019

      Yes there is, and I’ll put you on it! Thanks, Lisa.

      • April Smith
        April 27, 2019

        Ditto!! I’ve mentioned in passing & perhaps in emails, but I don’t think I’ve “officially” said I’d like to be on a wait list for pre-orders. I would LOVE to be on the wait list for pre-orders! Now it’s official 🙂

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