Solder Party


The past month has really been a whirlwind! I turned in my application for tenure, got the semester rolling, and pulled together my show for Chicago Artist Coalition. I'm showing a circuit-knit work that was made with the group efforts of members of Pumping Station: One. I'll post photos of the finished work soon. Here are pictures from the first step of the soldering process, the solder party I held at PS1 to get the circuit boards tinned and ready for component assembly.

(photos: Everett C. Wilson)

Work in Progress: knitted sphere

I've been busy with starting the new semester and finishing my tenure application. Getting back into the studio is a real treat! My current project: making a spherical shape from multiple segments.


With one more of these segments, I can link them all together to create a ball. I did the one on the left last night (there's the start of a repeat, but then I ran out of wire and dropped stitches, and decided to call it a night). The right one I did last week.



For this one, I started with about 40 stitches, and then started adding more once the pattern got wider.
I've noticed tension issues with the end wire stitches. To get around this, I add wire stitches on the outside of the pattern. These stitches will simply be cut off once I start soldering. (Knitted with 1 strand 36 AWG and 1 strand 34 AWG bus wire, T8)



For this one, I started with a *very* narrow swatch and just added stitches the whole way. A little tedious-- I think starting with a wider swatch may be worth the extra wire wasted. However... it worked fine. (Knitted with 2 strands 36 AWG bus wire, T8)

Also on this one (visible in the first photo) I "cast off" the wire stitches at the top, once the pattern started getting narrow. No need to knit the whole width when I only need what's inside the borders of the grey yarn.


Here's the back. I'm looking forward to finishing the third segment, getting out the soldering iron, and trimming off all that excess wire!


Knitted Circuit Diagrams

I've been working on the best method to diagram knitted circuits. So far I've been able to use the PCB view in Fritzing to create this image, based on the circuit diagram below.

The circuit can be built on a knitted circuit board made with this pattern.


And if you've got a knitting machine, this file loaded on the machine will knit the pattern.


I'm working on an instructable that goes into the details of this design. Plus I'll be posting it on Hack A Day as part of my entry for the Hack A Day prize.

Grand Prize Winner on Instructables!

Angeleah Daidone recently sent me this photo of the bracelet she made in my Circuit Building Workshop.

When I posted my knitted circuit instructable last month, I also entered it into Instructables' Battery Powered contest.
And... it took the grand prize! How cool is that???

I was, needless to say, thrilled for the recognition (and winning a new camera, tablet, and power tools ain't bad either!). I've posted two more instructables this month:

How to make your own e-textile Arduino 

And today, how to solder stainless steel thread.


Linen, Electronics and Diodes

Lauren Singer of Houston, Texas (Ravelry ID: AuntieAnty) contacted me recently through Ravelry, to share Linen, Electronics and Diodes, a circuit-knit project she made with Glenn Manuel (Ravelry ID: Glennman), based on my knitted circuit design.

I'm thrilled to see people picking up the project and experimenting with new approaches. Lauren used 28AWG bus wire and a 50/50 cotton/linen blend. As far as I know, this is the first hand-knit version of the design (since I machine-knit mine). Very cool! I hope more will follow!


Damask Circuitry


I got the idea for this pattern from the wee blinky, an astable multivibrator that flashes a pair of LEDs.

To create a knitted circuit pattern, I tried to minimize the number of places where traces cross over each other and require jumpers. 

It was fun to plan, and after I got one working, I started multiplying it to create a pattern reminiscent of damask.

(I'm having a strong urge to reupholster the couch in this pattern, now.)






Looking Like An Engineer (Part 3: A Call for Collaborators)

I was taking a yoga class a few years ago when I noticed a fellow student with a circuit diagram tattooed on her forearm. After class, I asked her about it. She told me she was a theater sound engineer, and the circuit was an op-amp, part of her audio console.

I've been wearing a circuit on my own forearm lately. The first time I wore it on the train, a man sitting near me kept staring at it, and finally complimented me by saying "You look like you got it going on!" I didn't even have it turned on at the time-- just a few LEDs and a battery. It made me think of the woman with the op-amp tattoo. I wondered if displaying it gave her more tech cred.

I, too, would like to wear an op-amp, and a number of other circuits as well. Because apparently I need some tech cred. Because electronics are fun. And because, frankly, it looks cool. So I've been working on methods to knit circuits with all the standard electronic components, in addition to the ever-popular LED. 

The lovely thing about these circuits is that they're great conversation starters. People who know electronics want to know how they work. (As do people who don't.) I don't suffer from "invisible woman" syndrome* when I'm wearing them.

Clothing has long been a way to advertise status; for women it's also been a means of displaying "maker" skills, and of building community around the sharing of those skills. I think it's time we use it to create some new "Engineer" archetypes. 

So I'm looking for collaborators -- engineering women with tech skills you want to wear on your sleeve (literally). What is your "circuit tattoo"? Would it fit on a cuff? A cardigan? A floor-length gown? You design the circuit board, I'll knit it, and we'll have a Stitch-n-Solder bee to build it. Model your new threads and re-define "what an engineer looks like."

 - It'll probably work best if you are also in Chicago.

- The more visible the circuitry, the better.

- Circuits that make sound or light or movement get bonus points.

- So do circuits that give you super powers.

If all this sets your gears a-turning, get in touch and tell me what you want to build.

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BTW, If you want to knit your own circuit boards, I'm working on an instructable for that. Stay tuned.

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*Sheila Miguez sent me this link to an amazing talk by Naomi Ceder, a programmer who transitioned from male to female. Starting at 19'50", Ceder discusses what the Python programming community is like for women (trans or not). I love her statement that she was worried about being harassed at PyCon the first time she went to the conference as a woman, but discovered instead that she was now invisible.