We have a Brother KH-950i knitting machine with a pile of attachments which we bought through a pledge in July 2011. This is a computerised knitting machine with the capability of "printing" in multi colour either from the large collection of on-board patterns, draw your own pattern on supplied mylar sheets or via USB.
Our knitting kit consists of:
- Brother KH-950 Knitting Machine
- Brother KR-850 Ribber
- Brother KRC-900 4 Way Double Bed Colour Changer
- Brother KL-116 Knit-Leader
How to use it
The knitter is a surprisingly complex device - talk to someone who knows how to use it before using it (try Chixor first, but Solexious, Russ, and Tom Wyatt have also used it). Being shown how to set it up and use it will save you at least an hour and will reduce the chance that you'll break it.
Dispense with your hubris, and read the manual. You might think you're able to use any device without a manual, but this will prove you wrong and leave you looking like a fool. The manual is mostly good (if rather terse and formatted in a fetching, patronisingly sexist shade of pink), but you have to follow it well and take it slowly. And sometimes it glosses over the important bits.
If you run into any problems (the machine jams repeatedly, you run out of yarn or a needle bends) we won't growl we just need to know about it so it can be fixed. Record your usage and any issues on the knitting machine log book here.
Where it Lives
In the Wembley space you can find the knitting machine and its accessories/attachments on the 1st floor in the textiles room.
Please keep the knitting equipment in the correct boxes, or everyone will get confused. The parts live in 5 different boxes:
- The KH-950 knitting machine, in its proper white case with a handle. This contains everything you need to use the knitter itself. When you open the box, observe carefully where everything is, because it's a bugger to put back together. (Instructions on how to pack the knitting machine up are in the manual.)
- The ribber, its accessories (plus a couple of large spares for the knitting machine), in a cardboard box. (Some of these accessories might be useful for using the knitter alone but they are not essential for it.)
- A plastic box with the yarn, elastic, and misc additional knitter accessories.
- The "Knit-Leader" and its tube of supplies, loose.
- The Waitrose bag of knitting books, which includes the manuals for all the devices.
The KH-950i is a standard gauge domestic 4.5mm (industrial 5.6 gauge). This means it will knit:
- 2 ply
- 3 ply (fingering weight)
- 4 ply (sock/sweater weight)
- some double knitting / sport weight yarns
If you're new to the realm of machine knitting it's best to use a 3 or 4 ply yarn that's smooth and consistent all the way along (no thickness variation or fancy bits). The reason for this is if you haven't setup the yarn feeder or tension dial perfectly on either the main bed or ribbing bed then you'll run into more trouble with a complex (thickness varied) or very thin (2 ply) yarn than you would with a simple 3 or 4 ply which are more tolerant of mistakes.
The yarn supplied in the yarn crate is for learning how to knit, feel free to use it to create small samples and tests. If you want to start a project (scarf, sock, pillow, whatever) please supply your own yarn. Always buy a little extra for mistakes. If you have leftovers, you could consider donating them to the yarn box ;)
The purpose of connecting the knitting machine to a computer is so you can knit a two-colour pattern from a bitmap image. This is much easier than using the mylar sheets, however some experience using the command line is recommended before you try this.
You will need:
- Follow ladyada's excellent tutorial (her 930 is older than our 950i, the equivalent button to "step" is "M")
- Our hacked USB to FTDI cable created by Russ (talk) using the tutorial here. You can find the cable in the knitting machine crate on the craft area shelves.
- Our modified version of the python floppy drive emulator available to download here. Ladyada's 930 is a 16bit knitting machine, our 950i is a 32bit machine so changes had to be made. Shout out to Sally Kentfield for her support.
- Upgrading to multi-colour
- Accept the most common image formats (png, jpg, gif, bmp)
- Any width and height images (not restricted to 60x150 grid)
- A much improved user interface
Chixor has been pondering how to convert this rudimentary (steep learning curve) hack into a simple print service interface that doesn't require any programming or command line knowledge. Pondering diagram below, it's a work in progress.
So what have we been doing with it?
What else can be done?
- Sally Kentfield's Marvellous Knits
- Annie Larson’s Colorful Knitwear
- The home of mathematical knitting
- Floppy Drive Emulator
- Brother Accessories Explained
- Knittington, a GUI for the serial interface hack
- Brother Liberation Front more crafting machine hacks
- Knitic a different way to mod a knitting machine
- Diana Sullivan's beginner lessons on YouTube
- Electroknit Technical Information (last available archive)