Hackaday Prize Entry: Circular Knitting Machines

Deep in the recesses of a few enterprising hackerspaces, you’ll find old electronic knitting machines modified for use with modern computers. They’re cool, and you can knit colorful designs, but all of these machines are ultimately based on old equipment, and you’ll have a hard time building one for yourself.

For their entry to the Hackaday Prize, [Mar] and [Varvara] is building a knitting machine from scratch. Not only is it a 3D printed knitting machine anyone can build given enough time and plastic, but this machine is a circular knitting machine, something no commercial offering has yet managed.

We saw [Mar] and [Varvara]’s Circular Knitic last January, but this project has quite the pedigree. They originally started on their quest for a modern knitting machine by giving a new brain to old Brother machines. This was an incredible advancement compared to earlier Brother knitting machine hacks; before, everyone was emulating a floppy drive on a computer to push data to the machine. The original Knitic build did away with the old electronics completely, replacing it with a homebrew Arduino shield.

While the Circular Knitic isn’t completely 3D printed, you can make one in just about any reasonably equipped shop. It’s a great example of a project that’s complex and can be replicated by just about anyone, and a perfect example of a project for The Hackaday Prize.

Check out the video of the Circular Knitic below.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

24 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize Entry: Circular Knitting Machines

  1. That video was horrible.
    Nothing is ever completely in the frame, its always panning, and the average shot length is about 3 seconds.
    I am no closer to knowing anything about the project.

      1. This is fascinating, because I watched the video and was about to say something positive about the quality of its making. To me it looks very professionally made. But, now that I think about it, you are right, there is not too much information given. It looks just like a powered version of a children’s toy we call here “Strickliesel” (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strickliesel).

    1. Circular sock machines have been around for a long time. Then there’s a number of manufacturers of plastic circular machines, though at most they have (IIRC) 70 needles. Mattel in the 1970’s had the Knit Magic but it was definitely a toy with only 16 needles, though the second version had the ability to reverse directions for making panels instead of just the tubes the first version could do.

    2. Knitting on the round is arguably the most common type of knitting machine, it’s considerably easier than the alternative. I would agree though, that there are no programmable knitting tools targeting young students.

    3. I recall in one of Tolstoy’s works, a mention of a grandmother who would knit two socks at the same time. It looked like she was knitting only one sock, but when she was done would pull the second sock out from inside.

      Yeah, not commercial, but interesting method of circular knitting.

      1. That takes too long. I want spray on clothes. Put the nozzles in the doorway to my flat. Then, when I leave in the morning, I enter the door way naked yet emerge outside fully clothed. (Unless some prankster has turned the machine off…)

  2. My daughter got a circular loom for making hats, socks, scarves and other tube-shaped arrangements for Christmas. It’s fascinating in its simplicity, I’ve spent some time thinking how a machine to do the same could work. My idea is a ring of pegs on a track (instead of a fixed ring), which raise and lower at specific points, and then a couple of hooks to do the fold-over.

  3. How about an automation add-on for the “Knifty Knitter”? That would simplify the build, lower cost (though lower options too), and as an extra benefit -I actually already have the Knifty Knitter, so I don’t have to buy as much! 😉

  4. You should be able to also weave carbon fiber, fiberglass, or Kevlar tubes with this setup. Pretty cool. Slip them on a form, impregnate with epoxy, and autoclave or vacuum bag.

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