Simple LED tricks

I created these circuits for Chicago Art Department's Crystal Ball Fundraiser Auction. The top two bidders will receive their choice of design as a custom fit cuff bracelet.

Candle flicker LEDs are an easy way to add movement to your lights, without a microcontroller.
Wire the flickering LED in parallel with non-flicker LEDs and they will alternate flickering. Make sure the different LEDs have similar forward voltages, otherwise some might not light up at all.



Slow-Fade RGB LEDs offer another easy trick, cycling through a rainbow of colors. It looks very cool set off by single color LEDs. If you limit the current enough with a high resistor, some of the LEDs will go dim at different points in the cycle.




With the above circuit, I slipped a piece of resistive velostat under the battery contact, as a dimmer. Without it, all 3 LEDs remain on, continuously.






Passap Knitting at Pumping Station: One

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Aushra knits on the Passap

2015 was the year of the Donated Double Bed: two Passap Duomatics and a Superba S48. I had no experience with either brand, so it's taken awhile to get one working and online. There was cleaning and repair (tag-teamed with Dan, Erica, and Will), designing and building a worktable (thank you, Shae!), followed by the scavenger hunt for missing parts (props, Katrin and Richard!).

But I'm pleased to report it's finally happening! At a recent "Knitting Machine Office Hours" at Pumping Station: One, we tested settings that work with the Passap using fingering weight Tamm 3-ply Astracryl yarn. And we figured out how to knit from cones (no cake winding required)! Read on for a complete step-by-step.

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Felting Yarn

I first knitted with Yeoman Felting Wool last summer, when Yeoman donated a large box of yarn to the eTextiles Summer Camp. It's easier to hand-felt than other wool yarns I've tried, so I ordered a half dozen colors and started to play. It's fun to make detailed colorful designs, and perfect for holiday gifts. But there are a few pitfalls in creating your design. Read on for info about:
  • holes between colors
  • uneven felting due to pattern and color
  • felting technique
Holes

The designs pictured are "single motif": the pattern does not repeat and the contrast yarn stitches are wider than 5 stitches in a row. This results in long "floats" of yarn on the back side. Normally you'd "wrap" the edge needles while you knit to avoid big gaps caused by the edge stitches "laddering." Instructions for this are often included in machine manuals under "how to knit single motif". 
The edge needles are not wrapped in this piece. This resulted in laddering: large gaps and sagging stitches at the edge of each color. This is particularly visible around the brown in the middle.

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Superba Second Yarn Guide

I recently had a lovely visitor from Germany, who came bearing knitting machine gifts. Katrin Kennedy (Ravelry user Rumpletasch) was in Chicago for work, and lucky me! she brought along some hard-to-find Superba parts for me. Here she demonstrates how to use the Superba Second Yarn Guide, a separate plate that hooks onto the carriage to hold a contrast yarn for jacquard. Read more for a step-by-step.

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Machine Knit With Wire



I've been working on a method to machine knit with copper wire, for creating eTextiles.

the challenge:

  • wire needs to come off the spool with zero drag
  • 30-36 AWG magnet wire is super thin and breaks easily, also tangles
  • magnet wire spools are heavy, which means inertia and momentum if the spool spins, which will snap or tangle the wire.
  • it's got to be cheap

the solution (so far):
  1. place the spool on the floor in front of the machine
  2. mount a wisker disk on the top of the spool
  3. place a guide hoop above the spool for the wire to pass through
  4. attach a light-weight rope thimble to the tension mast, to minimize bending of the wire

things to improve:
a better stand
experiment with larger rope thimbles (maybe 3D print?)


I based this design on industrial coil winding methods. For instance:
 

This research has been a part of my Public Engagement Maker Residency at UIC/Mana Contemporary, working with Professor Sabrina Raaf. Also, props to Ed Bennett, for pointing out the tension mast wire-bending issue.

50 Ways to Love Your Linker

I recently found a Brother KA-8310 linker for $35 on eBay ("working condition"!). I hear these things break more than work, but for the price, I figured, why not? The linker arrived, in clean condition, with original packaging and manual. I knitted up a test swatch, followed the instructions and.... sure enough, it didn't work. Parts moved when I turned the crank, but it did not advance on the bed of my Brother 940.

Then I realized my mistake. I hadn't let Dan tinker with it first.

So, I brought it home, set the box in front of him, and said, "Wanna fix this?" He picked up a screwdriver and I grabbed my camera. (Thus began another romantic evening at home...)

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Yeoman Yarn Samples

Color cards scanned on an Epson flatbed scanner, with a CameraTrax 24 Color Card for reference.