Documenting Knitting Group

Content: (work in progress)

  • Discussion
  • Ways to transfer an image to the knitting machine
  • Micro Explorations
  • Fitting an ATtiny85 inside a bigger knitting
  • Vertical weaving of the ATtiny connection (coming)
  • Felting wool
  • Elastic thread (coming)
  • Capacitor knittings (coming)
  • Loud speaker Knittings (coming)
  • Interface application (coming)
  • Copper thread knitting (coming)

We discussed the status of the knitting machine KH-940:

  • Given that the people who can repair these machines are not abundant. Given the fact that knitting on this machine is and will remain very manually orientated (see point 2). Will KH-940 knitting (or similar machines) soon be “dead”?
  • This way of knitting will never be comparable to 3D printing – push the button like action – . Is this an advantage or a disadvantage? Some participants suggested inventing 3D printing like knitting machines.
  • Documenting knitting is not easy, given all the manual actions required. Will there be a standard? Probably not, since documenting is taking even more time than the knitting itself.
  • Documenting is further hindered on a general level by all the different fabrics, threads, sizes etc.
  • There are a lot of Youtube movies tutorials by people from a totally different community: dedicated knitters. Can there be a knowledge exchange or is the mind set of the digital age and the knitters too different?

Why is this knitting machine so attractive?

  • It seems to be a digital machine, because you can transfer a digital image (circuit) and knit it.
  • it can be hacked, this word alone means “fame”, nowadays.
  • by knitting, your own fabric can be made, this means DIY, another word attracting immediate fame.
  • the machine has so incredibly many possibilities
  • it has electronics inside
  • a circuit can be knitted with conductive thread, copper
  • wool conductive yarns can make a good touch sensor
  • it is 30 years old, and it still works!
  • amazing complexity, what an attention is given to all the details, little hooks, ways to fold it into the box….

What do we make on this knitting machine:

  • swatches, exploring stitches, tuck, skip …
  • samples
  • knitting with non convential materials, copper wire
  • knitted circuits, loudspeaker, capacitor
  • knitted conductive touch area’s
  • not socks, gloves, scarfs, bags, cushions, tea cosy
  • small mass productions, like the Swatchbook samples

Ways to transfer an image to the knitting machine :

An image is an alternation in threads. Normally you can use 2 threads. Alternating a normal yarn with a conductive yarn makes the knitting e-textile.

  • Img2Track: using the modified USB FTDI TTL cable. This worked always, but compared to the transfer of the boards this is slow. (Now you have to pay for this if you use more than 60 needles.)
  • Ayab board, this didn’t work always, but most of the times it did. (Around 50 euro’s.)
  • Old debugged Knittic board, with DIY software. (The DIY software is programmed so that there is no signal loss.) This board gradually declined working. The reasons are possibly the contacts. The milled PVC is apparently too fragile for connecting and deconnecting the sturdy connectors all the time. And for transportation this connecting and disconnecting is needed. — in the mean time after mending two connections the board works again —
  • (Besides these methods: Designaknit using the Brother USB-TTL cable) – costs money.

kg4 Ayab Board in use.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 13.05.31Old knittic board which seems to be slowly dying, meaning: it transfers the image 1 in ten times trying, the solenoids don’t react in 9 out of 10 tries. Sometimes it helped changing the USB cable, or fiddling the wires, but no pattern of definitive bug is detected (yet).

Micro explorations:

Using this pixel schema we experimented with conductive wire and wool, to make a convenient attachement for a ATtiny85:

Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 14.45.02

This was a swatch based on a little bit more complex schema to study the connections of the wires:


The problem is not the loose threads, normal in Nordic knitting, but the threads at the edges, which connect the tours:


As the second, conductive thread:

High Flex 3981 7X1 Silver 14/000
company: Karl Grimm, was used, to solder.

Here an example front and back which worked, but …


the conductive wires at the side must be cut, so you destroy the tidy knitting structure:


The way to attach this swatch, or make it attachable was explored using magnets. Here in a knitted pocket, in the point, a magnet ring is inserted.


Then this had to be turned inside out:


The knitted pocket technique with more strong magnets together with tight knitting provides a convenient way for attaching pieces of knitting.


Fitting an ATtiny85 inside a bigger knitting

The knitted fitting of the tiny ATtiny85 asked for a contrast: a giant ATtiny – knitted. It is the purpose to make this into a wearable.


backside: (oops! actually this is confusing, the dot indicates the top side!)


inside of the back side: the ATtiny is mounted on the knitted support, the PIN’s are connected using the elastic wire ( Conductive Fabric Tape company : Amohr), which corresponds to the stretchyness of the knitted surface.


The knitted top side with the “giant ATTiny85″ text image. The grey area is conductive yarn ( (Bekinox Nm50/1 cotton Company: Bekaert, Characteristics: Resistive, Very thin yarn, 2 ply,). This makes it a perfect surface for touch or static electricity probing.


The inside support of the real ATtiny


The elastic copper wire, coated so it does not make a short cut.


The big PIN’s are another micro exploration: stiffness is attained using copper wire with conductive yarn (Bekinox Nm50/1 cotton Company: Bekaert, Characteristics: Resistive, Very thin yarn, 2 ply,).
This copper wire is insulated so it only contributes to the stiffness.
This big PIN can give a touch signal surface (“high” resistance). To connect without resistance another wire of highly conductive material ( High Flex 3981 7X1 Silver 14/000, company: Karl Grimm, ) is sewn in around the edge. (Resistance edge : 0 Ohm, middle part 5-20 kOhm.)


The condcutive wire (High Flex 3981 7X1 Silver 14/000
company: Karl Grimm) provides a nice connection.

There was a plan to knit a giant LED too, but for testing a normal LED was used:


Vertical weaving of the ATtiny connection

A different knitting technique avoiding the loose horizontal wires.


Felting Wool

The felting wool provided by Yeoman was extensively tested.

You must tightly knit, because in one experiment the wool didn’t felt that much everywhere:

kg7 (backside)

The loose threads caused by Nordic knitting are felted into the fabric.


With images the colors have a slight tendancy of felting into the other color, as can be seen above, the green is also felting into the black.

Elastic thread


Resulting in the swatch.

(more coming)

Capacitor knittings


Loud speaker Knittings


Interface application

Using conductive wool and image knitting an interface is created for VJ.

(more coming)

Copper thread knitting







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