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...)

Yeoman Yarn Samples

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

Superba Knitting Machine

Last month, I became the ecstatic new owner of a Superba S48, donated by Ravelry knitting machine angel fibremaniac.

This is my first Superba, and I’m thrilled to have it. I’d like to try the knitty hack. Before we get there, though, the machine needs repairs and cleaning. Lucky for us, Dan and I love taking machines apart to see how they work, and we're starting to get pretty good at it.

Deep cleaning the needles is much, much faster if you don’t turn the machine over. Just clamp the machine to a table as if to knit, and you can access the screws underneath. The screws won’t fall out once they’re loosened-- very convenient. 

To remove the needles, I used a bar magnet and was able to lift them out, ten at a time. I soaked them in denatured alcohol + balistol oil. Afterwards, I dropped each needle in its channel before putting the retaining spring back on. This is much faster than on the Passap, which requires working each needle in after the spring is in place. 

Photographing Yarn Colors

Photographing my yarn samples with a Colortrax color card for reference. My thinking is, if you have a copy of the card, you can adjust your monitor to match, to see accurate yarn colors.  

I shot the pictures by setting a custom white balance with the color card, so the color is consistent.  Next time, I'll have to use manual exposure/shutter speed to insure consistent brightness, as well.

The name of the yarn is under each photo set.

Key West Karibbean Kotton Yarn in DK and Worsted weights.

Jaggerspun Heather

Artist Residencies and Workshops

Since April, I've been in residence at UIC/Mana Contemporary, as a Public Engagement Maker.

They've provided me with a fantastic studio to work in, access to the Makerspace on UIC's campus, plus the great privilege of working with UIC New Media Professor Sabrina Raaf.

On May 2, UIC featured me at their booth at the Northside Mini Maker Faire at Shurz H.S., where I demonstrated the knitting machine and showed my work (pictured above). And I'm currently working on plans for a special free series of the Women's Electronics Workshop at Mana. 

Additionally, my application for eTextile Summer Camp was accepted, and I'll be flying to France in July for this amazing week-long event, held 250km outside of Paris in the Loir Valley. I'm particularly excited about participating in the Swatch Exchange, and look forward to bringing home a large collection of e-textile samples to share.