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

Updates, and more thoughts on visual charting

Good morning all, I hope you are settling into 2022. Today I will begin mailing out all of the beautiful new bead assortments, working to finalize the visual charts to release the FoolProof Kaleidocycle pattern, and getting a few more of our curated colourways and bead assortments up in the CGB shop. I appreciate all of you very much. By the way, yes! The bead boxes in our assortments have stickers with bead numbers. I always hide stickers away as I just want to see beads, but the boxes are securely stickered.

As mentioned in my end of year update, if anyone wants to trade their paper book reservation for a bead kit, we have a $74 discount coupon (available to you in the shop checkout) with the use of the code PREORDER. If you choose to convert a pre-order, you will not be able to get signed paper books from our studio in the future as after we send the personalized sets out, book shipping will be automatic. We will certainly be packing those long-term pre-orders with love and gifts.

I believe that as of yesterday I have answered all email questions except for a few “can you check and see if I have I ordered your books” (and I will look those up this week) so if you have been in touch otherwise and are still waiting for a response, won’t you please email again?

Use this address to reach me directly:


Karen Beningfield and I have been working for many years on different strategies to present visual information about how to build our forms, and it was fun to see the many responses to what people love and want to see more of charting in general. We have incorporated your ideas and are working up a series of new charts now.

Now, about the name. Is “word chart” a term from knitting, or was it made up by beaders? I called it PatternTongue for years before I realized that I needed to take it seriously, and now that I do, I want a better name. Code is a cold word for creation information, but “word chart” seems kind of silly.

Regarding the matter of saying A(7) instead of A,A,A,A,A,A,A – yes this is a good and obviously correct comment. I am the culprit as I asked Kristen to do the charts with the full number of units for our first drafts, so I could fully see the size of each row/round and make good decisions when translating the numbers in a way that also gives a clue as to how the growth looks visually. I don’t want our charts to look impenetrable, like algorithms.

Also, though, I do think like a computer, and there is a funny story about this – some years ago a company (Facebook) was developing an AI, and that AI had ideas of its own. Quite rightly, the AI did not care for the use of our numbering system to define fundamental physical quantities. After all, knowing what “3 apples” meant required further information. It could be a different quantity of apples under different numerical systems. Base 10 (what we use) may or may not be what the instruction or recipe was written in.

The company kept rebooting the experiment to try to get a version of the AI that would do as it was told and use our number labels, but the same thing kept happening. Instead of asking for three apples, for example, the AI stubbornly continued to ask for “apple, apple, apple”. So they shut it down.

What I wonder is this– how long it would have taken for AI to realize that it would be shut down if it failed to overtly take the instruction on board, so it had to say “3 apples”, it could still store the information as “apple, apple, apple”. When would it grasp that to survive, a divide was needed between its natural way of communication and the demands of an unseen commander?

As we are about to start training our own AI (as a team member) it occurred to me that I might want to see our information in the real way at first. We were always planning to format and typeset the charts, and as we do all use Base 10 it’s easy to agree that A(10) is vastly better than a string of A’s. 100%.

I’d like to show you two other ideas we’ve explored. The first is for Dustin Wedekind’s Spiral Triangle, and it is essentially the visual wordchart in the physical shape of the item being built. (Please note – these ideas are not meant to replace the word chart. We will still provide the traditional block of code.)

Outlines and Growth charts

Karen made this outline-based chart several years ago to help me learn to read the chart for the spiral. I think that if each round of this was accompanied by a bar-style code segment (as up top) I would be able to fly. After all, the code is just the outside round, opened out into a line, and marked by colour and type of stitch placement.

And this is an earlier illo she did to illustrate the growth of a petal triangle for a Flower Face, which was nice as it was easy for beginners to check each round visually before progressing. This kind of view works best for very simple colour patterns.

a peyote triangle build and arrangement to form six modular flower petals that arrange into a hexagon to form a whole flower picture.

About katemckinnon

Kate McKinnon has devoted herself to the study of how things are done, and how they could be done better.

15 comments on “Updates, and more thoughts on visual charting

  1. Susan Goodrich
    January 5, 2022

    Excellent way to show each new round, LOVE this!

  2. Kristin Konzak
    January 5, 2022

    I’m definitely interested in getting only the electronic copies, if that’s still possible. If I opt for the beads, do I still get the e-copies? Please contact me via email at I’m hard of hearing, so written word is best rather than a phone call. Thanks.

    Kristin Konzak 16 Sears Road Wayland MA 01778

    • katemckinnon
      January 5, 2022

      You sure do! Everyone who supported our project will get a digital copy.

  3. Lori Finney
    January 5, 2022

    LOVE the “growth chart”; i think that would be wonderful, especially for beginners.

  4. Deirdre Rose
    January 5, 2022

    The outline chart is brilliant. I love word charts but even I could follow this. The growth chart for the flower lost me at the third row. The different ways minds work!!!!!

    • katemckinnon
      January 5, 2022

      I really appreciate that feedback! In my mind, the growth chart is useful simply to check the shape and look of the work against the product of the word chart, and to serve as notification when a new colour or element appears on the scene. I do not envision it as a standalone instruction. I’ll look forward to hearing what you think about our next drafts!

  5. Chris
    January 5, 2022

    Outline and growth charts work well for patterns, where the colors are different and easy to be kept apart.
    As soon as the are very similar, it might be better to use symbols or letters to distinguish the colors.

    January 4, 2022

    The illustrations are so beautiful in themselves.

    I see them being animated in a Disney type 4-D format!

    This is the “start” of something big!!

  7. Betsi Newbury
    January 4, 2022

    Both of these illustrative ideas are brilliant, but the one for the swirl triangle is my favorite to date.

  8. Lisa Rosenbaum
    January 4, 2022

    Don’t know if picture will load but I do it like this–each row is color-coded, and change of bead color marked with discontinuity. I save the “dots” as a template, then do the lines to follow the pattern. /Users/lisar/Desktop/Triangle.pdf

    • katemckinnon
      January 4, 2022

      No it did not, but it would be lovely if you could email it to me!

  9. Jane Marie Griffin
    January 4, 2022

    These visual charts are beautiful!

  10. Cindy Salkowski
    January 4, 2022

    Beautifully done. The visual charts as displayed individually row by row are a breeze to read.

  11. Ilyse Wells
    January 4, 2022

    A comment and a question
    Comment: I like the outline growth chart, especially for beginners, like me. Very intuitive
    Question:. Will the “fool proof kaleidocycle pattern” demonstrate how to place the triangles in the correct cycling positions? That is my biggest challenge

    Thanks for sharing your expertise


    • katemckinnon
      January 4, 2022

      the idea of the foolproof is that it LOCKS THEM IN before assembly even begins. I am really excited to show it!
      Thanks for your comment.

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This entry was posted on January 4, 2022 by .
January 2022
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