THP Entry: All Yarns Are Beautiful

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There are a lot of builds out there that retrofit modern electronics into ancient knitting machines. The ability to print in yarn is very cool, but when you look at the total costs of these projects – especially the ancient Brother KH-930 knitting machines – these projects start getting very expensive. A much cheaper solution to these $700 knitting machines is the Brother KH-910 model, the first of its kind, and a machine that can be purchased for about $100. For their entry into The Hackaday Prize, [chris007] and [andz] put modern electronics into this slightly less capable knitting machine, turning what was once old junk into something with the same capabilities of a much more expensive machine.

The more expensive KH-930 and -940 knitting machines are fairly impressive pieces of technology, controlled with a floppy drive, and can be retrofitted with a serial cable to upload patterns. This is the basis of the Electro-knit and Knitic, but they simply don’t work with the Brother KH-910, a machine programmed with a primitive scanner and semi-transparent picture cards. It’s like the difference between punch cards and a disk drive, really.

[chris] and [andz]‘s new controller for the Brother KH-910 is based on the Arduino, acting as a connection between a PC and the 200 solenoids and pins inside the knitting machine. That in itself is impressive – now, instead of being limited to 60-pixel wide yarn prints, the Brother KH-910 can use its full width, limited only by your arm strength and amount of yarn.


SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is an entry in The Hackaday Prize. Build something awesome and win a trip to space or hundreds of other prizes.

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OpenKnit, the Open Source Knitting Machine

For all the hubbub about 3D printers leading a way into a new era of manufacturing, a third industrial revolution, and the beginnings of Star Trek replicators, we really haven’t seen many open source advances in the production of textiles and clothing. You know, the stuff that started the industrial revolution. [Gerard Rubio] is bucking that trend with OpenKnit, an open-source knitting machine that’s able to knit anything from a hat to a sweater using open source hardware and software.

We’ve seen a few builds involving knitting machines, but with few exceptions they’re modifications of extremely vintage Brother machines hacked for automation. OpenKnit is built from the ground up from aluminum extrusion, 3D printed parts, a single servo and stepper motor, and a ton of knitting needles.

The software is based on Knitic, an Arduino-based brain for the old Brother machines. This, combined with an automatic shuttle, allows OpenKnit to knit the sweater seen in the pic above in about an hour.

Since OpenKnit is inspired by the RepRap project, all the files, software, and assembly instructions will be up on Github shortly. there’s also a video available below, and a Flickr gallery right here.

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Giving a CNC knitting machine a new brain

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We’re all about big machines that build things for us – laser cutters, CNC mills, and 3D printers are the machines de rigueur for Hackaday.  Too often we overlook the softer sides of fabrication that include textiles and knitting. [varvara] and [mar] are doing their best to bring us the softer side of things with their modification of a Brother knitting machine. They call their build Knitic, and it’s a great way to knit with computer control.

Instead of previous Brother knitting machine hacks we’ve seen, Knitic doesn’t bother with emulating the keypad or controlling the microprocessor already there; this build dispenses with the Brother brain and controls the solenoids and switches of the knitting machine directly with the help of an Arduino and a home-etched shield.

It’s not quite an automated knitting machine – someone still has to run the shuttle across the machine – but the patterns are controlled via a Processing app available on the Knitic github. You can check out [Varvara]‘s demo of Kinitic after the break.

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Make a knitting machine print pixel art

[Becky Stern] shows how to take an old electronic knitting machine and interface it with a computer. After seeing the Brother KH-930E knitting machine in the video after the break it looks like the controls function quite like a CNC milling machine. Patterns can be programmed in and stored on a floppy disk. Since we don’t want to use those anymore (unless they’re hacked as an SD card carriage) it is nice to see that this is how the machine is connected to a computer. Using an altered FTDI cable and a floppy-drive emulator written in Python a blank design file can be saved on the knitting machine, manipulated in the computer to add your own pixel art, then loaded back onto the machine for production. At the very least, it’s interesting to watch the knitting happen, but fans of knitted apparel and geek paraphernalia must be salivating by now.

We’ve never given up our dream to transition from Hack-A-Day to Craft-A-Day, this just fuels the fire for that cause.

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