Hacking a Brother Knitting Machine

I have to say, I love knitting, I love electronics, and I was elated to find that you could combine the two. After a bit of research, I found the AYAB project and dove in. Unfortunately, I struggled to find a lot of documentation when I embarked on this road a few years ago, so I made my own.

There are a few tutorials that show you how to do initial setup items like how to cast on the yarn, so I don’t cover those here. What I do cover are the softwares you need to get up and running, how to create a design in GIMP (an “open source photoshop”), and then knit the final design on your machine.

Options and Software Needed

The general bit of the first video talks about the different options you have to hack your knitting machine and the softwares you need to go down my route.

The current larger projects are Becky Stern’s Electroknit project which shows you how to emulate a floppy drive for compatible knitting machines, Knitic’s Arduino Due-based shield to replace the original control board (works for most Brother machines), and the All Yarns Are Beautiful approach (which I went down).

To knit using AYAB, you will need the most recent version of the board made by Evil Mad Science Laboratories (click here) OR a shield from Thinkstack (click here). If you are in the US reading this, I’d recommend the former due to shipping times and costs. If you are in Europe, Thinkstack may be the way to go. There is a lot of documentation on Evil Mad Science Laboratories’ website to help you with a lot of questions you may have (such as with compatibility, so I won’t repeat that info here.)

To get started, you will need to install:

  • The Arduino IDE to install drivers (click here)
  • The AYAB program (click here)
  • An image editor such as GIMP (free, click here), Photoshop, or even MS Paint.
    • I use GIMP in these tutorials.

Software Setup, Machine Setup, and How to Make A Design

Most of this should be pretty easy to follow in the video. In a nutshell, install the Arduino software, then the AYAB software, and then GIMP (or whichever image editor you’d like). Use the AYAB software to upload the newest firmware to the Arduino controller board (or the complete board from Evil Mad Science Labs), and then make your design.

Knitting with Your Computer!

The third and last video takes you through the basics of knitting with your machine. Key points to remember is to start on the left side of the project, initialize your machine first, and to only put in the second color (“color b”) when you are using it. There are plenty of other little tidbits in there, so I’d have to just recommend watching the video 😉

By | 2017-01-22T23:56:47+00:00 January 22nd, 2017|How To's|0 Comments

About the Author:

I'm an electrical and controls engineer with experience in C++, C#, Sequencer Programming (ie "Game Loop), a little bit of graphic design, 3D modeling, and bits and bobs of a lot of game design.

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