Thursday, July 27, 2017


Yesterday, July 26,  I demonstrated two machines at the GM Employee Car Show in Warren, Michigan.  The first machine was a KH-910 with the Evil Mad Scientist AYAB hack installed.  The other was my Home Profit antique circular sock machine with a prox sensor installed to count rows.

I also took project explanation posterboards, and a table full of about 25 pairs of socks and a few sweaters and shawls. and I took too much yarn, and a couple of boxes of tools and spare needles. And a cast-iron sewing machine base with a plywood top.  And a plastic chain.

 The back of my little GMC Terrain was pretty full.    I loaded it up the night before, because I needed to arrive at 6:30 to set up and find a good parking place after unloading.  In the morning I skipped breakfast at home and visited Tim Horton's instead.  Those guys in the drive-through are SUPER FAST, and very polite.

At the MakerFest, it took me about 2 hours to set up, re-arranging the tables a few times, with lots of help from the organizers. People started showing up and asking questions  about an hour before the official start time, so I was glad to have arrived early

I had a lot of interest from several people, including three youngsters to whom I explained the concept of swatching (prototyping to makers).  The first girl (maybe about 8 years old) asked, "What is this, a doll blanket?" and I explained that different yarns had different size stitches, and to make a full-size garment I need to do some math to calculate how many stitches to put in the full sweater in order to make it fit.  She nodded her head very seriously.  She understood the concept!  She looked at all the swatches and remarked that they were very pretty.

Eventually the sun climbed higher in the sky and I had to move my display from just on the outside of the tent to inside the tent to avoid the sun, which was beating down intensely.

I explained the difference between knitting and weaving to an automotive engineer, and related it to car hoses and tires and interiors of the cars, and how the different textiles used  have different properties.  I let a beautiful woman,  who might have been a model, sit down at the CSM and knit a few rows.  She had about 10 men following her around, and they were watching and listening intently also.  She proclaimed the experience "Immensely satisfying!"  I let another engineer get "up close and personal" to the CSM to see how a knit stich is formed when the cams lift the needle butts, forcing the old stich behind the latch and the new stich in the hook when the latch closes, slipping the old stitch off the needle.

While I was demonstrating, I knitted about 7 baby beanies on the CSM (with hems!) for donation to a GM hand knitting group to pass on to the Troy Beaumont hospital  neonatal unit for preemies.

I explained the Arduino/AYAB hack about 10 times, how the KH-910 Mylar sheets are no longer available, and that model did not have an interface to the floppy drive, so no way to permanently store the patterns, and showed the electronic components I removed from the KM and the buttons used to enter a pattern one stitch at a time.

There was at least one other Arduino project there, a programmer was using a pulse sensor input to record pulse rate while listening to various types of music, in order to put a playlist of calming music together.

All in all, I think it was a very successful day.  When the photos are available I will update this post.

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