Some makers might take an existing tool and adapt it into something recognisable, but different. Knot Unknot is a perfect example of this kind of innovative attitude to making. Knot Unknot is a business run by Madeline Shepherd and includes a project that combines a knitting machine with affordable computing.
Knitting machines came to market in the 1970s. They are a long device used to knit simple patterns in two colours of wool. Once threaded with wool, simple ‘programs’ could be fed into a reader on one side of the machine. The user would push a shuttle left to right and a line would be knitted. Then back the other way, right to left.
With each line, the hooks would move, and the two-colour pattern would be revealed. These patterns were limited by the size of the program being fed into the machine, which might be a card with eight repeating lines, or with later models, mylar film with around sixty repeating lines.
Madeline has used an open-source kit by Ayab Knitting which replaces the card reader with an Aduino controlled device. Using this, the pattern being fed into the machine is now effectively endless. And any two-colour picture can be now rendered into wool.
See Madeline and the Knot Unknot knitting machine in action at Edinburgh Mini Maker Faire on Sunday 10 April 2016. Get your tickets here!