Hack your knitting machine




(EN)These last years hackers and makers have started to open up knitting machines and found new ways to hack them by allowing the machines to be controlled directly by a modern computer. These hacked knitting machines become a sort of textile printer. Having a direct communication between digital tools and the knitting machine pushes the boundaries of traditional knitted patterns and gives us the opportunity to think of new way’s in conceiving patterns.

(FR) Ces dernières années les hackers et makers ont commencé a ouvrir des machines a tricoter, trouvant différentes manières de les détournées en les pilotant directement avec un ordinateur moderne. Ces machines a tricoter hacké deviennent alors des sortes d’imprimantes textiles. En ayant une communication direct entre un outil numérique et la machine a tricoter, cela pousse les frontières du motif traditionnels tricoté afin de nous donner une nouvelle manière d’envisager le motif.


(EN) For the small story :

In the 1980’s, domestic electronic knitting machines were the 1st tools of digital fabrication that were made for the home. These machines have stopped been produced in the 90’s so they didn’t technologically improve since then. However they stay the best semi industrial way to prototype knitted fabrics. That is also because they need low resources and they are economically affordable through 2nd hand websites.The ancestors of the electronic knitting machine are knitting machines who had a punched hole card system to create jacquard patterns. The Electroknit models of Brother (who are computerized) came with a floppy disk where a library of patterns were pre recorded. The computer included with the machine gave the possibility to programme, memorise and send grids of b&w pixels that place the needles in a jacquard position so that you can knit a pattern by going back and forth with the cartridge. The initial computer allowed also to programme manually pixel by pixel your own pattern but size is limited to a certain number of pixels/stitches. Programming your own patterns can be very long and tiring as it can up to several hours if you want to knit a big pattern. Adding to that no pre visualisation is possible so you would have to go back and correct manually any mistakes.


(FR) Pour la petite histoire:

Dans les années quatre-vingt les machines a tricoter domestiques électroniques était les premiers appareilles de manu-facturation digital qui rentrait dans l’habitat. Ces machines ont cessé d’être produite dans les années 90 et donc n’ont pas évolué depuis. Elles restent cependant le meilleur moyen semi industrielle pour créer des prototypes tricotés grâce a leur faible besoin en ressources et leur accessibilité au niveau prix via les sites 2nde main.

Les ancêtres des machines a tricoter du jacquard (motif tricoté) fonctionnaient grâce a un système de carte perforés. Les Electroknit de Brother sont à l’origine munis de floppy disk (disquettes) dans lesquelles une bibliothèque de motifs pré programmés est accessible. L’ordinateur intégré permet de programmer, mémoriser et d’envoyer des grilles de pixel n&b pour placer les aiguilles en position jacquard afin de tricoter du motif. L’ordinateur initiale de la machine permet aussi de programmer pixel par pixel ses propres motifs avec toutefois une taille très limité. La programmation de son motif devient (très) laborieux car cela peut prendre plusieurs heures a programmer manuellement un motif et aucune prévisualisation est possible.

La démocratisation des outils de programmation et outils électroniques open source permettent de comprendre et améliorer ces machines «obsolètes». En anglais ont utilise le terme de reverse engineering ou rétroingénierie qui consiste à «étudier un objet pour en déterminer le fonctionnement interne ou la méthode de fabrication pour modifier son fonctionnement».

Plusieurs projets de hack pour machine a tricoter ont récemment vue le jour. Le but 1er étant de trouver un moyen d’envoyer son motif depuis un ordinateur moderne a la machine a tricoter. Dés lors il est possible de directement tricoté une photo, dessin, texte etc.. en bitmap de 200 pixel de largeur max et de longueur infini. Grâce aux récents projets autour des ces machines, ont peut maintenant faire communiquer de différentes manières et avec des langage de programmation diverses notre ordinateur a la machine.  Ces machines, jusqu’à récemment considérés comme obsolètes, deviennent aujourd’hui, des sortes d’imprimantes textiles.


Knitting machine hacks overview


October 2016

Version: Ayab-0.8

Systems: Windows, Linux, Osx

Brother Knitting machine model: KH 910/930/940/950/965 & CK35 (chunky brother KH230 in development..)

Ayab is a open source project from Andreas Müller and Christian Oberstiener. They  based their hack on the idea that you replace the original electronic computer of your knitting machine with a custom made circuit and a Arduino micro controller board. In this way you can connect your knitting machine to your computer and send black and white patterns or pictures row by row. The max width is 200 needles/ 200 pxl and the height is “infinite”.You can order a kit that you will need to solder and get an Arduino Uno, a USB Belkin cable and a computer.

Since the 1st version of Ayab a lot of progress and bugs have been fixed since. In the 0.8 version we have for example:

  • A nicer interface and a real time row counter.
  • We have an (experimental) more than 2 colors option for ribber jacquard (until 6 colors but even 3 colors stay’s quite challenging for the knitting machine.)
  • A circular + jacquard pattern option.
  • A practical first and last needle option implemented using the knitting machine conventions (100-0-100).
  • A carridge initiate/configure mode that is much more stable.
  • A cancelling knitting option.
  • New models of knitting machine including the semi industrial CK35 coming with a motor programming option.
  • A 3 header pin connector to connect a motor? color changer? on the shield.

For a step by step tutorial you can check it here

Extra resources on knitting  hacks can also be found on ETIB website: https://etiberlin.wordpress.com/eine-seite/


July 2014

version: AYAB GUI beta 1

For a step by step tutorial you can check it here

I received my soldered Pcb to hack my kh 910 brother knitting machine. This machine is quite special (and clever technology for that time) as it was the last series before the Electroknits came out. Indeed it uses a scanner to read patterns you could directly draw onto a transparent mylar sheet. You would insert it into the reader and then have different options to modify your pattern via the computer of the knitting machine. The limits were that you couldn’t do a single pattern that was more than 60 pixels wide and 100 pixel long. The scanners are also quite fragile and would often be broken with time.

So when i heard at ETIB that their was this new hack i was really happy to make my machine become alive again!

How to install Ayab on your knitting machine?

You can directly order a pre soldered Shield at Ayab that you connect onto an Arduino Uno. You can then download the software and Python libraries. Ayab uses directly the command line interface of my Ubuntu system to open the Python script. Once you upload your pattern on your terminal you have basic commands to modify, place your pattern etc..and then you hit send and you can visualize the data of the pattern being sent to your Arduino. Their is a small buzzer that tells you each time you finish a row. This worked immediately and very smoothly. I didn’t have any huge issues apart from some glitches, port that got resolved.

Systems: Windows, Linux, Osx

Brother Knitting machine model: KH 910 & kh 930 (more models still in development..)

Knitting multicolour patterns on single and double bed still in development.


You can make your own shield if you wish, their project is nicely documented on: https://bitbucket.org/chris007de/ayab-apparat/wiki/english/Home

To Order the AYAB shield: https://shop.thinkstack.de/gb/

-Arduino Uno

-Belkin Usb cable

Linux, MacOSX and Windows operating systems.

The control software is Python based.

ayabshield connections3 ayab shield connections3 ayab shield connections1

terminal ayab screenshot


This hack works great and immediately on Linux. I have had a few issues with the serial port on Ubuntu which happens also sometimes for other devices…I’ve tried to use the multi color pattern option to knit on the double bed or use more than 2 colors but i didn’t manage to get it split my greyscale picture so i guess it’s still under development and i didn’t find documentation on it.



This hack is done with a modified FTDI cable using the knitting machine original computer. Before you would upload your pattern using a floppy disc on a Tandy computer. Here we can use our modern computer instead and send a .png picture that will be stocked in the knitting machines memory. The modified FTDI cable goes in the original 4×4 pin port found on the back of the machine and the other end is a USB which goes to the computer.

You will need a

  • FTDI TTL-232R-5V USB‑to‑serial converter cable.
  •  Molex connector part no 90142‑0008.
  • A computer with Linux or Windows (Linux users will need to get hand on a Windows computer at some point just to programme the FTDI cable using FT_PROG.)



Tested on:

  • Ubuntu 34bit & 64 bit
  • Windows XP
  • Brother Electroknit kh 930 – kh 940 – kh950

You will need to modify the FTDI cable you can follow a tutorial here:


Then just download Knittington https://github.com/stg/knittington and follow instructions. Once it’s installed:

1/Follow the knittington instructions.
2/Load your pattern
3/Turn your knitting machine on
4/Clic on “start emulator”
5/Choose your serial port
6/You will then see “emulator is running  you can now load pattern data in the machine”
7/Go to your knitting machine computer and when “ready” lamp is lit, hit “CE” and type “551” then “STEP” and type “1” then “STEP”
8/You should then see on the knittington software “read emulator 1…2..3…until 31”
9/The bip from your machine tells you that the pattern has been fully transferred.
10/On your knitting machine computer “ready lamp” is lit and row “1” is on the screen ready to knit!
11/Set your carridge to jacquard mode (push MC button and KC1 or KC2 on the knob)

Linux Users:

If your Ftdi cable serial port doesn’t appear on knittington go in your terminal and write this:

ls -lh /dev/                   //list serial port
sudo chmod 777 /dev/ttyUSB0     //gives rights for chosen serial port

Issue on installing Knittington on a Linux 64 bit system.
This is because of libfreeimage being a 32 bit library so i get this message:

$:~/knittington_update/knittington/bin-linux$ ./gui
./gui: error while loading shared libraries: libfreeimage.so.3: wrong ELF class: ELFCLASS

Here is what to do to fix this:


2/ Download the knittington-master zip file :https://github.com/stg/knittington

3/ Replace the linux-gui-make.sh file by the new one to download here:


4/ execute in the terminal:

chmod u+x linux-gui-make.sh
if you get a “permission denied” message

5/ Then go to the file knittington-master/bin-linux and execute:

And knittington should work!



I met at constant Mar Canet et Varvara Guljajeva i managed to hack my brother kh 940 knitting machine so that it could be directly controlled by my computer. Mar and Varavara are working on an open source project Knitic, which can hack the kh 930 and kh 940 models of brother electronic knitting machines.

(FR)A la suite d’un workshop organisé par Constant.vzw avec Mar Canet et Varvara Guljajeva j’ai pu hacker ma machine a tricoter Brother kh 940 pour qu’elle puisse être piloté par ordinateur. Mar et Varvara travaille sur un projet open source Knitic qui permet de de détourner cette série de machines Brother équipées d’un ordinateur intégré.

How to install Knitic on your knitting machine ?

The hack consists in recreating in a simpler way the propriety electronic computer of your machine. In an independent PCB that will become a shield for your Arduino. You can print and drill your circuit at Fritzing or do it at your local hacker space or fablab. Once the PCB is soldered you connect it to your Arduio Due. You just need then to reconnect the molex connectors that were on the original electronic circuit of your knitting machine. One the Arduino is programmed, you can then connect by a USB cable the Arduino to your computer. The last step is to use Processing to send the data of your pattern/image to your knitting machine. An intuitive software has been made by Knitic so that you can modify and send your image while you are knitting.

Comment installer Knitic sur sa machine a tricoter?

Le hack consiste a refaire de manière simplifié une partie du circuit propriétaire de la machine sur un PCB indépendant. Ont peut imprimer et forée son circuit chez Fritzing ou le faire chez son hackerspace, fablab du quartier.  Une fois le PCB soudé on le connect a un Arduino. Il suffit ensuite de rebrancher les connecteurs molex de la machine a tricoter au PCB.
Une fois l’Arduino programmé, ont le branche par USB a un ordinateur. La dernière étape consiste a utiliser Processing pour communiquer les données de notre image a l’Arduino qui l’envoie a la machine a tricoter. Un logiciel intuitif a été également crée avec Processing pour envoyer et modifier son image pendant que l’on tricote.

Knitting machine model : Kh 930 & kh 940

Tools/Outils :

Vous trouverez ici les tutoriels et listes de composants électroniques.

You can find here the tutorials and list of the components

-Arduino Due

-Usb cable

-Mac , Windows, Linux

Processing and Arduino

 You can also knit multicolor patterns on single and double bed.

Option pour tricoter des motifs multi couleurs (plus de deux couleurs) et sur la double fronture.


ordinateur d’origine de la kh 930


déconnexion des connecteurs molex de l’ordinateur


composants électroniques pour souder au PCB

shiled et pcb

PCB et Arduino assemblés


Conclusion :

(EN)The problems i had with Knitic were that very often (5 or 6 rows of knitting) the pattern would shift on one side or another or sometimes create glitches on the pattern. The other one was that my computer doesn’t have a big processor so i guessed that it has problems in sending and receiving the data when i knit faster which then confuses the data transmission. I am currently still trying to work this out with Grateful Frog. It seems to be a problem of calibration of the machine. Indeed , each knitting machine has to be calibrated because of the end line left and end line right sensors. Once we get the good calibration we can enter the values in the Arduino code and hopefully it will be fully operational. To be continued….

(FR)Le software est intuitif et on a une visualisation en temps réelle quand notre chariot tricote. Il y a une option pour créer des pulls et pour trcioter en côtes multicouleur.

Techniquement les problème que j’ai eu avec Knitic est que régulièrement, après 6 ou 5 rangs tricotés, le motif se décale d’un côté ou de l’autre et parfois des glitch apparaissaient (d’autres aiguilles étaient sélectionné en position D). L’autre problème étant que mon ordinateur n’ait pas un processeur très puissant ce qui crée une latence et confusion entre le moment ou je tricote plus vite et les informations envoyés depuis l’ordinateur a la machine et vis versa. Je suis encore en train d’essayer de régler ces problèmes avec Grateful Frog. Ça a l’air d’être surtout un problème de calibration de la machine. En effet chaque machine doit être calibré a cause des capteurs de fin de ligne gauche et droite. Une fois que nous aurons la bonne calibration nous pourrons entrer ces valeurs dans le code Arduino en espérant que cela réglera les problèmes précédents. A suivre…

 Autres projets de hack pour machine a tricoter:

Ayab hack pour la kh 910, kh 930 (kh 940 pour bientôt!) Open Source- Arduino/C++/Python  – Linux, Windows, Osx

Knitic  kh 930 ,kh 940 –  Open Source – Arduino/Processing – Linux, Windows, Osx

So Kanno brother kh 970, kh 940, Ck35  –  Open Source – Arduino/Processing – Linux, Windows, Osx

OpenKnit Un chouette projet pour construire presque entièrement sa machine a tricoter en open source et contrôlé numériquement. Elle tricote directement des vêtements en tubulaire en 3 couleurs.


Hack avec un câble FTDI

Knittington  (Software pour câble FTDI) kh 930, kh 940, kh 950 – Open Source – Linux, Windows, Osx

DaviWorks  (fabrication du câble FTDI et software) kh 930 – kh 940 – kh 950 – Windows, Osx (gratuit seulement pour 100 aiguilles ~ 60$)

Becky Stern, Adafruit  – (fabriquer cable FTDI / Python)  – Open Source – Linux, Windows, Osx

Fabienne Hacked knitting creations  – Cable FTDI et émulateur – Open Source – Linux, Windows, Osx

Taylor Hokanson and Dieter Kirkwood

Présentation de l’histoire des hacks:

Steeve Conklin at Libre Graphics Meeting 2014

Medien, die wir meinen – Fabienne Serriere

Documentation technique: 

Steve Conklin  Fonctionnement technique des machines a tricoter.

K2G2 Pleins d’informations techniques sur les machines a tricoter.

Manuels pour machines Brother.

Tutoriel pour réparer sa machine en cas de fumée dans le transformateur!

Excellents Tutoriel  pour des techniques de tricot machine (cercles, dentelles, changeur de couleur..) chez alessandrina.com.

Double bed multi color jacquard tutorial/ jacquard en côte multi couleur: http://www.kentfield.co.uk/machine-knitting/multicolour-ribhttp://www.kentfield.co.uk/machine-knitting/multicolour-rib

Tutoriels vidéos pour trucs et astuces pour le tricot machine par Diana Sullivan.

Choosing & Using Knitting Machines


One Response to “Hack your knitting machine”

  1. Multiple colors knitting – Quantified Epopee Says:

    […] ref : https://xxxclairewilliamsxxx.wordpress.com/hack-ta-machine-a-tricoter/ […]

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