Hacking the Knitting Machine

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Abstract:

  • Workshop Statement

    Textiles are the original digital medium. After all, the Luddites were named for artisans that protested against the mechanization of textile production in 17th century England. Unlike their predecessors, today’s Luddites are associated with a distaste for the virtuality of modern devices. However, with the arrival of the Internet of Things, ushered in by affordable 3D printing, it’s becoming clear that the technologist need not choose between digital and actual. Machine knitting is a great example of this overlap.

    Taylor Hokanson and Dieter Kirkwood will demonstrate a useful modification, originally exploited by Davi Post and Becky Stern, to the Brother KH-930e knitting machine. These devices were originally released in the 1980s, so they are available relatively inexpensively on sites like eBay. The KH-930e features an early digital input capability, meaning that users could purchase patterns to communicate to the device via floppy disk. Hokanson and Kirkwood will demonstrate how to spoof this connection, upload custom patterns, and “print” them into actual knit shapes.


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