Kniterate Knitting Machine on Kickstarter

I’ve seen this project flutter by enough times that I think it’s time to talk about it: the Kniterate Knitting Machine.

The Kniterate knitting machine in action

The Kniterate knitting machine in action

What is the Kniterate knitting machine?

Let’s talk about what this project is: It’s a knitting machine that aims to hit a sweet spot between the hobbyist machines and serious industrial production machines. Hobby machines, like the Passap 6000E or [discontinued] Brother KH930E, start around $1000. While they’re not as popular as they once were there is still a fairly active community for using and maintaining them. The Kniterate’s feature set matches or surpasses even the most expensive hobby machine setup. On the flip side, an industrial knitting machine starts around $20,000, so even at the full retail price of $7,500 this machine is going to be a serious knitwear designer’s cheapest entry into the market.

The biggest thing that sets this machine apart from a hobby machine is it’s ability to transfer stitches between needles automatically. Most hobby machines require you to painstakingly transfer stitches by hand between the ribber and main bed, or for decreasing stitches (like at the top of a hat). For this reason there are many projects that are more time consuming to do on the machine than by hand. The Kniterate knitting machine’s carriages transfer stitches for you, meaning you’re not spending hours hunched over moving stitches around.

Support for up to six colors is impressive for a machine this cheap

The software for the machine is entirely custom, and it’s not clear from the Kickstarter documentation whether the Kniterate knitting machine will support existing software like DesignAKnit. Their machine-level instructions are a custom language called K-Code, and they have helpfully published the specifications online. This is great for the longevity of the project – it means that people outside the company can write software to use on the machine.

Who is behind the Kniterate project?

According to the Kniterate about page, Gerard Rubio is a design school graduate who started the OpenKnit project after seeing the sad state of knitting machines available to design students. OpenKnit eventually morphed into Kniterate. This project is the culmination of about 4 years of research and development.

In addition to Rubio the Kniterate team consists of 5 other members with backgrounds in fashion, hardware design and manufacturing.

Should I back the Kniterate knitting machine?

Maybe. Assuming you’ve got a spare $5k lying around, there are some additional things to consider before plunking down your credit card number:

Hardware manufacturing is hard, expect delays.

Kickstarter hardware projects have a history of running late or never shipping. The reasons for this are many but the short answer is that manufacturing is complicated. And while Kniterate has raised over $350,000, that’s actually not much money for a hardware startup. They may face issues with the production run not coming out at the same quality as their prototype, or other manufacturing delays. The fact that Kniterate was incubated at HAX means they may have a better chance of success than most, since they’re already in a network of hardware manufacturers. If the project, which is currently slated for April ’18 delivery, runs late they’ may end up scrambling to pay their staff in the interim. In short: delivery of this or any Kickstarter product is not a given. Most projects do eventually fulfill their promises or refund money, but are you prepared for the chance you might be left with nothing?

Ongoing support is a serious concern.

Kniterate is a new company. I have a number of Kickstarter’d gadgets whose maker has long since disappeared. For a $10 watch band or even a $100 hydroponics system this is an inconvenience. But for a $5000 piece of semi-industrial equipment this is a serious risk. Running a hardware company isn’t easy, I’ve watched plenty of promising companies fold in the last few years. If Kniterate goes under in a few years do you have the technical skill and desire to tinker with your machine and keep it running?

That said, the project looks great.

The Kniterate team already has a great looking prototype and tons of video of it actually working, so at the very least they have a solid proof of concept. This is clearly the fourth or fifth iteration of the machine over many years, so I’d expect the final product to be pretty smooth and polished. And there’s really nothing else like it, with the tools & features of an industrial machine but much easier to use, at a much lower price point, and smaller size. The team behind Kniterate has a great blend of expertise and interest – you don’t spend a year working on an open source knitting machine unless you’re really into machine knitting.

The market for the Kniterate knitting machine isn’t huge, not a lot of people have $5,000 to spend on something that will probably ship next year and hopefully meet all their requirements. But for independent knitwear designers who just can’t quite swing the cost of a serious industrial machine this may be just the thing they need. And if you’re a hobbyist with 5 grand burning a hole in your pocket it looks like a lot of fun!

 

Adorable Fox Hood for Babies and Adults

Are you ready for the cutest, most adorable thing you have ever seen in your life? Seriously, if you are of childbearing age make sure your ovaries are in their upright and locked position before continuing.

Before we look at this completely adorable fox hood pattern I want to talk to you about babies, and hats. Babies don’t like hats. The second a baby figures out how to touch his or her head, all hats are forfeit. I have never made it more than a block without my daughter reaching up, grabbing her hat, and throwing it on the ground to get run over by the stroller. Immediately after this happens some well-meaning-I’m-sure stranger comes up to me and interrogates me about why my baby is not wearing a hat and what kind of mother lets her baby go without a hat in this weather. At this point keeping my baby hatted is less about her comfort and more about me avoiding nosy neighbors. Which is why this pattern by Muki Crafts is such a great one: it’s a cowl and hat in one, and oh my gee is it adorable.

Are you not squealing with delight?

It’s a hat! It’s a cowl! It’s kind of like a balaclava, but without looking like you’re about to rob a bank! Not only that but the pattern is available in four different languages – English, Spanish, Italian, and French. It’s available in sizes baby through adult, so you can have a whole family of foxes. All the techniques used are fairly basic, making this a good project for an advanced beginner. You’ll need to know how to knit in the round, increase, decrease, knit, and purl. There is also some hand embroidery needed for the nose and whiskers.

Ready to make yours? Here’s what you’ll need:

Get the PDF pattern now!

How to Make the Crochet Bobble Stitch (with Pattern Ideas!)

The crochet bobble stitch is a fun novelty stitch you can use to create dimensional texture in crochet. B.hooked Crochet has put together a great video on how to make the stitch!

Also called the puff stitch, the crochet bobble stitch is often seen in home goods and chunky scarves. It’s a little more dense than it’s knit cousin and can be used either as an all-over texture or as a design element. You can stack them vertically as shown in the video, or offset them a bit to get a hexagon-like pattern. The bobble is formed by making five double crochet stitches in the same place and then joining them all together before moving on. Once you understand the basic stitch you can try changing colors each row or using variegated yarns to get different color patterns.

Patterns using the crochet bobble stitch

Ready to make some bobbles? Here are some patterns which make use of this stitch:

 

Bobble Stitch Sheep Pillow

Purl Soho’s Bobble Sheep Pillow

This sheep pillow is large, adorable, and fairly straightforward to make with just one main color to work with.

Crochet Bobble Stitch Pillow

Patons Bobble-licious Pillow

These pillows are a great way to use luxury or novelty yarns that aren’t well suited for garments. The texture is particularly great for showing off yarns with a little bit of shine like silk or metallic threads.

Crochet bobble stitch blanket

Emjay Crochet’s Bobble Afghan

What will you make with the bobble stitch?

Knit Giraffe Plush Pattern

Like many other suckers, I’ve been watching April the Giraffe for the past 2 days waiting for her to give birth. In the mean time I found this incredibly cute knitted giraffe pattern by Fluff and Fuzz.

 

Super cute knitted giraffe pattern

The giraffe (and his zebra friend) is worked flat on a pair of US 4 (3.5mm) straight knitting needles, though personally I do all my knitting on circulars, even when the pattern calls for straights. Yes, this does mean there is a bit of seaming at the end, but you will totally survive, I promise! The pattern requires a few intermediate skills like knitting stripes, increases, and decreases. The finished plushies stand 34cm tall.

Ready to make yours? Here’s the supply list:

Get the PDF knitting pattern

My Stash Explained by JMillsPaints on Etsy


NO, its not yarn in that box 😉 A print of an ink and watercolor illustration. Printed on acid and lignen free matte paper with high quality Epson inks. It can be easily framed in a matted 11 x 14 frame with an 8 x 10 mat or trimmed to an 8 x 10 frame.

Artist Julia Mills has clearly been spying on me.

Source: My Stash Explained by JMillsPaints on Etsy

Interweave Wants To Talk About Your Balls

The thing I’ve called a skein my whole life? Other people call it a hank. The thing I call a ball? Other people call it a bullet skein. Whoa!

Lisa over at Interweave has put together what must certainly be the definitive list of terminology for yarn balls. And yarn skeins. And yarn hanks. Really, any form of yarn. Now you can differentiate your balls and cakes with confidence!

Thanks Hidden River Yarns for sharing this!
Source: Lisa’s List: 12 Yarn Ball Types and How to Knit with Them – Interweave

Bunnies, Bunnies it Must Be Bunnies!

I am totally and completely obsessed with the Little Cotton Rabbits series of patterns. I decided last fall that instead of getting my kids a stuffed Easter bunny every year I’d knit them bunnies this year and then make new clothes for them every year going forward. I figure it’s a great way to avoid contributing to the already incredible surplus of stuffed animals in the house as well as an excuse to use up some scrap yarn.

I loved knitting the pattern so much that I convinced my sister-in-law that her two kids also needed knit Easter bunnies. At first she did the usual “oh that’s so much work, you don’t have to do that” which every knitter recognizes as the polite way of saying oh god please not more knit crap. Then she saw the pictures of other finished bunnies and immediately changed her mind.

My nephew, like most 3 year olds, is very into Frozen right now so I made his bunny an Elsa bunny. I extended the basic dress pattern to be floor-length (desk length?) and added a wig made from scrap yarn and felt.

The felt base for Elsa’s wig

Bunny in progress

The pattern isn’t difficult, but it’s small and fiddly so it takes a while. Sewing everything up is definitely the most tedious part for people like me who don’t like seaming. The whole thing is knit flat so there are seams everywhere. After knitting the parts I gave them a quick blast with the steamer, blocked them, and then spent approximately a million hours seaming and stuffing.

Knit bunny

I considered stopping here and just calling it Nearly Headless Bunny

It took a few tries to get Elsa’s hair right, if I ever do a bunny wig again I’ll make sure to have the “scalp” go more down the sides of the head. It’s tacked down with sewing thread, which helped get the shaping right.

The sparkly sheath on the dress is just a rectangle of scrap fabric with a few holes cut in it for the arms.

I’ve got two bunnies left to knit and I’ve definitely picked a favorite yarn to knit the bodies in – Manos del Uruguay Maxima. You can get two bunnies from one skein and it’s so soft and so fluffy!

So yeah, I have a bunny addiction.

The Disney Waiting Scarf

My plan to knit through the Walt Disney World Half Marathon was abruptly canceled by the Florida weather, which saw fit to bring thunderstorms on Saturday morning. Left with a whole lot of yarn and a week of vacation I decided to knit while waiting around Disney World instead.

If there is one thing Disney World is known for, it is waiting. Waiting for rides. Waiting for shows. Waiting for the bus. So. Much. Waiting.

I had already cast on 60 stitches for a scarf knit in the round. The reason I’m knitting in the round is that it’s completely mindless for me. There’s only knit stitches and I never have to worry about turning the row. The only time I need to look at the work at all is when I’m joining a new color, or if I drop a stitch.

On the way to EPCOT Center (which is, for the record, my favorite Disney park) I pulled out my knitting and got to work. I set up some very loose rules: switch colors for each new wait, try to keep the color distribution somewhat even, and don’t stress. It’s just a scarf.

 

Day one didn’t have a lot of waiting. We had fastpasses for most of the rides we cared about, and didn’t spend a ton of time at the park because we were still exhausted from traveling. There were also rides we went on which had no waiting at all so I didn’t get any knitting done for those. Shucks!

Day 1: EPCOT

 

Wait knitting in order from bottom to top:

  • Riding in the car on the way there (white)
  • Soarin’ (Teal) – A lot of this was watching the “intro video” they show you right before you enter. It was a nice time to get some knitting in!
  • Living with the Land (Green) – This is honestly one of my favorite rides, because I’m a nerd and I really like the greenhouse tour. The line for this was probably the longest I’ve ever seen it… maybe 10 minutes? EPCOT was pretty busy due to all the folks in town for the marathon.
  • Turtle Talk with Crush (Blue) – Since this is a live show that runs every 15 minutes or so I had some nice seated knitting time. My daughter (age 4) got called on by Crush, but forgot her question which was pretty much the most adorable thing ever.
  • Test Track (Light Blue) – We had a fastpass for this one but it still takes a short while to go through the last part of the queue where you make your car.

Magic Kingdom Wait Knitting

Day 1 Evening / Day 2: Magic Kingdom

We were able to take advantage of “Extra Magic Hours” in the evening of day 1, so I left the kids at the hotel with their dad and set out with some friends to ride the “big rides” at Magic Kingdom. The lines were short enough that I didn’t get a ton of knitting in, poor me. Then we came back in the morning to do the kiddie stuff with the little ones.

Magic Kingdom knitting (starting from just after the white stripe):

  • The Haunted Mansion (Light Blue) – Most of this was done in that first little room you wait in.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (Green) – One of my favorite roller coasters. I briefly considered knitting while riding but thought maybe that was a bit too much.
  • Riding the bus back to the hotel (Teal) – Our longest wait of the evening!
  • Dumbo (Blue) – Our first wait on Day 2 was for Dumbo (after fastpassing the Barnstormer), and it wasn’t even a necessary wait. Inside the queuing area for Dumbo is a really great playground. They give you one of those restaurant buzzers and your kid plays until its your turn to ride. Now if they’d just put one of those things in at Peter Pan…
  • The Carousel (Teal) – Can I make a confession? At this point I was sort of sad about how little knitting time I was getting in. So I knit during the carousel ride in addition to the <5 minute wait.
  • Country Bears Jamboree (Green) – We saw this while waiting for a fastpass time on another ride, and oh my god you guys what the… I knit through the whole thing to distract me from the animatronic nightmare before me.
  • Waiting for the bus (Light Blue) – I have no idea why the bus took so long to show up this time, but we were waiting approximately forever.
  • Ride home (White) – At least that part was short and sweet.

 

Day 3: Drinking Around the World

Guys, I’m gonna be honest… at 30something the idea of drinking around the world at EPCOT, a time-honored tradition in which you get an adult beverage at every country in the World Showcase, is not a great one. I didn’t even drink that much and I still felt like crap the next day. Nonetheless I did get a lot of knitting done.

World Showcase knitting – From Right to left we’ve got France, the Morocco, then back to France cuz they had a guy doing handstands on chairs! Japan, America (where I did not drink cuz all they had was Bud… gross), Italy, Germany, Africa (which is a country according to Disney World?), China, Norway, Mexico, a quick trip through Spaceship Earth, and the walk to the car (white). On day 4 we did the Safari ride wait (green, above), the safari ride itself, Expedition Everest, drove home, and then walked to Disney Springs from our hotel (light blue). Magic Kingdom again – Big Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain (thin white line), wandering around deciding what to do next (dark blue), Seven Dwarves Mine Train (light blue), the Haunted Mansion, and the ride back to the hotel.

Some older folks on the walk spotted me and were very impressed with my ability to knit, walk, and chat all at the same time.

Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom meant not a ton of time for knitting (poor me, not enough time waiting in Disney World), but I still got some stitches in.

By this point I was feeling more confident in my knitting skills, and even managed to get some knitting done while on a roller coaster.

Here I am sitting peacefully at the beginning of the ride

And a little less peaceful a few seconds later

I’m still bummed I didn’t get to walk the half-marathon, but at least I got some solid knitting in!

The Value of Knitting for an Afghan Refugee

The short documentary Stitches is the story of a man who finds peace in knitting—after establishing a life in exile as an Afghan refugee during the Soviet–Afghan War. The subject is the filmmaker Abdullah Abo Jassin’s uncle, who writes, “His story connects in a way with all what my family has been through over the past decades.”

This is a wonderful little short about machine knitting, and if I’m not mistaken that’s one of the 5mm French knitting machines made by Superba (my personal favorite) and marketed by Singer.

Source: The Value of Knitting for an Afghan Refugee – The Atlantic – The Atlantic

How much does a shopkeeper earn?

Yarn at The Sheep Shop

Owning a yarn shop is the dream of many knitters. What’s not to love? Spending all day knitting, chatting with knitters, and all the yarn you can knit! The reality, of course, is a lot less dreamy, with many shop owners reporting a lot of long hours and little take-home pay. Anyone who frequents or works at a local yarn store knows it’s a labor of love.

The owner of The Sheep Shop, a yarn store in the UK, opened up her books to show us all just what goes into keeping a store like hers afloat. It’s a reality check for anyone dreaming of opening their own store, and a good reminder for the rest of us of just how much work goes into running the stores we love to frequent.

Source: How much does a shopkeeper earn? | thesheepshop