Hacking the Knitting Machine (workshop) @ ISEA 2015, Vancouver

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Hacking the Knitting Machine
Friday August 14, 2015 9:30am – 5:30pm
Room 4945, Simon Fraser University Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
149 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 1H4, Canada

Update: Our workshop went really well! You can read about it on vancouverisawesome and the New Media Caucus website.

Textiles are the original digital medium – It’s no coincidence that the Luddites were named for artisans that protested against the mechanization of textile production in 17th century England. Unlike their predecessors, today’s Luddites are associated with a distaste for the virtuality of modern devices. However, with the arrival of affordable 3D printing and the Internet of Things, it’s becoming clear that the technologist need not choose between digital and actual. Machine knitting is a great example of this overlap.

Dieter Kirkwood and I will demonstrate a useful modification (originally exploited by Davi Post and Becky Stern) to the Brother KH-930e knitting machine at ISEA 2015. These devices were originally released in the 1980s, so they are available relatively inexpensively on sites like eBay. The KH-930e features an early digital input capability, meaning that users could purchase patterns to communicate to the device via floppy disk. We will show how to spoof this connection, upload custom patterns, and “print” them into actual knit shapes.

Each workshop participant will get to design and knit their own custom beer koozie. Is there anything more Canadian than that? Space is limited, so email me or Dieter see this link to reserve your seat today!

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