by Varvara Guljajeva & Mar Canet
We are developing Knitic project as an open hardware, which controls a knitting machine via Arduino. We don’t use a floppy emulation or knitting machine’s keypad simulation. Instead, Knitic is the new ‘brain’ of a knitting machine that allows real-time control over the needles. It means, one can knit as long patterns as desired and modify the pattern on the fly. Knitic has one more important advantage: it is compatible with all Brother electronic machines. Maybe as well with punch-card ones, this needs to be tested though. How come? Because we do not use any Brother electronics but just sensors’ output and solenoids’ input from the knitting machine.
Concerning our main motivations, we aim to develop an open source knitting machine and integrate textile fabrication into the field of digital manufacturing.
Desktop manufacturing is gaining importance. The numbers of Fab Labs, persons possessing digital fabrication tools, and open hardware are increasing. However, all this innovation is around certain tools, mainly laser cutters, 3D printers, and CNC machines. At the same time textile fabrication has been overlooked. To tell more, an electronic knitting machine was the first digital manufacturing tool at home.
In the end, it is a shame to forget early fabrication methods, which can be adjusted for digital age needs. Also, re-application of obsolete media is an interesting and novel approach in the field of digital fabrication.
Knitting and textile fabrication, in general, have several important advantages: the skills are common and there are lots of experts around, the availability and recyclability of material, and involvement of more people.