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Amazing Knitting Machine Hack Glitch Knit by Japanese

I found an amazing Knitting Machine Hack and production system by some Japanese artists and developers online called Glitch Knit. The team brings together Nukeme, a hardware engineer Tomofumi YOSHIDA, the software engineer So KANNO and a supporting member Emi YAMAMOTO.

The team uses a brother KH970 knitting machine, which was produced until 2005 and was discontinued afterwards. The parts list for hacking the machine:
* Arduino Due
* Connector : MicroBlade™ 53014-0810
* Photo interrupter : Sharp GP1S58VJ000F or compatibles
* Transistor Array : TD6208APG or compatibles

The team made circuit boards with a paperboard for prototyping with Adobe Illustrator and a Laser Cutter.

Source Code
The source code is available at Github here:

GlitchKnit Knitting Machines Hack
GlitchKnit Set up

Software GlitchKnit Knitting Machines Hack
GlitchKnit Software

GlitchKnit Knitting Products
Glitch Knit Outcome

From the website description: This project divided into two main content. Firstly, by hacking a knitting machine, exposing the environment that can be output an image as knit by anyone. Secondly, by using the knitting machine that we hack, to make a “Glitch Knit”. The glitch is "damaged of data or machinery" and "damaged data but possible to play". The “Glitch Knit” has two different way. One is output of the digital image data which was glitched. The other is to damage the structure of lace knit. It is output as knit full of holes. Knitting machine that is hacked, is introduced as a new equipment in FabLabShibuya, and how to hack is also published on Github and Instructables. In this project, knit work is also the work, and the environment itself for making the knit is also work. This is a kind of digital fabrication, extension of the handicraft, and device hacking. And more this is the one of methodology for fashion design and a thing descended the glitch movement. (

このプロジェクトは、内容としては大きく2つに分かれています。1つ目は、ニッティングマシーンをハックし、誰でも画像をニットとして出力できる環境を公開すること、2つ目は、ハックしたニッティングマシーンを使ってグリッチニットを作ることです。 グリッチとは、”機械やデータの破損そのもの”や、”破損しているけれど再生が可能な状態”のことを指します。 グリッチニットの制作方法は2つあります。1つはグリッチした画像データを、ニットとして出力したもの。もう1つはレース編みの構造を破綻させ、穴だらけのニットとして出力したものです。 ハックしたニッティングマシーンは、FabLabShibuyaに新たな機材として導入され、そのハックの方法も含めて公開されています。 このプロジェクトでは、ニット作品も作品であり、ニット作品を作るための環境自体もまた、作品です。 これはデジタル・ファブリケーションの一種であり、手芸の延長であり、デバイス・ハッキングでもあり、かつ、グリッチ・ムーブメントの流れを汲んだもので、そしてファッション・デザインのための一つの方法論です。

Designer: Nukeme
Hardware engineer: Tomofumi YOSHIDA
Software engineer: So KANNO /
Support: Emi YAMAMOTO

Knitting Machine Creations by Fabienne Serriere

Sam Muirhead published a great video picturing Fabienne Serriere's work with knitting machines.

Fabienne's Hacked Knitting Machine Creations! from Sam Muirhead on Vimeo.

Once upon a time, there was a warm, fuzzy hack. It was 2010 – Becky Stern and Lada Ada (Limor Fried) built on Steve Conklin’s disk emulator and knitting machine resources to allow their modern computers to work with the ancient microcontroller of a 1980s knitting machine. This meant that they could now knit designs made with modern tools, too complex or tedious to easily knit by hand. They shared their work with the world and since then, following an open hardware model, they and many others have contributed hardware and software improvements, smoothed the workflow, and allowed other models of knitting machine to be hacked. I went for a beautiful autumnal bike ride over to Wedding and caught up with Fabienne Serrière (FBZ), who has contributed a number of improvements to the original hack and has the wonderful woolens to show for it. We talked about the history of knitting machines, this hack, open hardware and Fabienne’s various projects, and started plotting to make an open source sweater to keep me warm in the winter months. We covered so many different things that I can only show you a brief introduction to her projects now, but there will be more to come! [Sam Muirhead


Brother KH-930 Knitting Machine Hacking and Knitting Tutorial

A video tutorial that was already published 2010 by Becky Stern gives a great overview of the proces to work with a hacked brother knitting machine KH-930e. The hack is based on the work of Steve Conklin and published on github here:

The Brother KH-930e Knitting Machine can be controlled by Open Source software. Parts of the process require commandline experience and Python knowledge.

Disk Drive/Computer Connection Notes

The external floppy drive for this machine was the same as a Tandy PDD1 (Portable Disk Drive 1). This drive is connected using a serial port. There is documentation on the internet about how to connect these drives to computers, but the connector pinout on the knitting machine is different than the drive, and I didn't find that documentation to be helpful. I was able to figure out the connector pinout by examining the knitting machine PCB.

Knitting Machine/Computer Connection Notes

The knitting machine drive connection uses CMOS voltage levels, not RS-232. Here is the pinout of the drive connector on the knitting machine:

      |   |
|   |   |   |   |
| 7 | 5 | 3 | 1 |
|   |   |   |   |
| 8 | 6 | 4 | 2 |

The pin numbering is shown as they are labeled on the knitting machine PCB, and does not agree with other documents I found on the web.

Connector Pinout
2 OutTied to 5, Pulled up through 1K resistor
3CTS?In(Tie to pin 2)
4No Connection  
5 OutTied to 2, Pulled up through 1K resistor
8RTS?OutFollows state of Pin 3 (buffered)

Methods of connecting the knitting machine to a computer

Using a FTDI serial adapter cable (RECOMMENDED)

Using an FTDI adapter is the best way to assure that you are interfacing with the machine using the same signal voltages as the original external floppy drives. This is documented on this wiki page, which will someday be merged with this one.MProg only runs under windows.

Using a USB serial adapter WITH flow control

This is a method I have used extensively with one model of knitting machine, but I no longer recommend it. Although it does not require any additional hardware like a FTDI adapter, this method does not present the exact same voltage levels to the knitting machine as the external drives which were designed to work with the machine. Although I have not had any reports of problems, it is possible that this method could stress the knitting machine input circuitry, and therefore I think it is safest not to use it.

Cable connections with flow control
Knitter9 pin connector

Using a USB serial adapter WITHOUT flow control

I have pulled pin 3 high, and am not using flow control in my software. I have not had problems with data loss while sending to the knitting machine, and the machine I am using is fast enough to always keep up with data received from the knitting machine. The data rate is 9600 bps, and the largest amount of data sent at once is 1024 bytes. Here is the cable I am using to connect the knitter with a USB 9 pin serial port:

Cable connections without flow control
Knitter9 pin connector
2 tie to 3 

Software Interface Information

There are a number of documents on the web about the Tandy PDD1 and the serial API for it, Most of them are incomplete. The knitter places the drive into a mode called "FDC emulation Mode", which allows access to raw sectors. This document is the most complete documentation I was able to find: Media:Tandy-Disk-Reference.pdf

External Disk Drive Emulator

I have written software that emulates the external disk. It runs under Linux and keeps the data as files on the linux file system. This allows knitting designs to be saved and restored using the emulation computer. I am using these files to reverse-engineer the knitting machine file format. The emulator is written in Python, and released under the GPL. It has been tested most extensively under Ubuntu Linux. I have reports that it does not work on windows due to problems with the serial library. It has been successfully run under OSX. If you have any information to add about platforms that it does or doesn't work on, let me know and I will update this informationI am happy to work with people who are trying to use the emulator with different models of knitting machine, and hoep to improve compatibility with other machines. The source code is available in the git repository listed above. Software for manipulating Brother data file: I have begun a python class which will provide an API to the brother data files. Source code is in the git repo. Knitting Machine File Format: A lot of the file format is now understood. Documentation is in the git repo.Work on this continues.This work was greatly helped by prior work performed by John R. Hogerhuis and posted on the kminternals yahoo group.



BL5 Brotherlink 5 serial or USB cable Brotherlink information

Yahoo group dedicated to hacking brother machines

Brother Liberation Front is working on open source interfaces

Info and protocols for the FB-100 interface

KE-100 motor drive (not sure that this is the right model drive for the KH-930E)

Adafruit Tutorial:

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