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How are socks like computers?

Angelina Russo Blog Posts computing cyclewear double jacquard hi vis knitting knitwear machine knitting punch card

Old fashioned Punchcard knitting machines come with a set of standard cards. While you can do a lot with these, you can't knit ribbed fabric. For ribbed pattern work you need double jacquard cards. Double jacquard means that you have a pattern on the outside, stripes on the inside and the whole piece is concealed, there are no floats. Traditional fair aisle has floats on the backside and these would get caught in a sock. I wanted to design a punchcard that interpreted the CultureCycle logo so first stop, photoshop to transfer the logo to a grid culturecycle-logo then the first transfer of the pattern to an excel worksheet. converting-pattern-to-one-a I find it fascinating that like computing, patterns can be reduced to a series of ones and zeros. This is of course, not unusual as punchcard computing was one of the first types of computing developed. It's just so interesting when you actually have to do it for a sock! Once you have the pattern on an excel worksheet you then have to deconstruct it further as double jacquard knits in one pass of the machine and slips in the next. That means that for each stitch you need two rows of punchcard but one is the stitch you want and the other is the reverse. converting-pattern-to-doubl Having done this you then mark out the blank punchcard marking-out-punchcard and then you need to punch out the holes. Early on I got excited and bought a punchcard machine knowing that I would never use a hole punch contraption for a 24 column 60 row pattern. The punchcard machine was a bit expensive but once I started punching I knew it was worth it. punching-the-card Having punched out the holes you then place the card in the machine punchcard-in-the-machine set up the yarns and knit first-double-jacquard-sampl This is the first sample. As you can see, once I reached the 60 row limit, I didn't reset the yarns (or I'd punched the first rows incorrectly) and so the second part of the sample is the reverse of the first but never mind because I knew I was only going to make a 60 row pattern so change to fluro and black yarn, add the reflective and here is the sample first-fluro-sample and here are the first socks. first-cycle-to-work-socks I discovered that while with normal socks you can knit straight through from the ribbing down, with double jacquard I will have to take the patterned section off the machine, knit the rest of the sock and then hand sew (kitchener stitch) the two together. Kitchener stitch gives an almost invisible flat seam. The next socks will be longer and will be the final "cycle to work" socks. For now, I have a bit to do at my actual work so it will be a few weeks before I get to them. What I find interesting about documenting this process is that it demonstrates something that I've been thinking about in relation to design research. Design criticism, for the most part, engages with the product (think about all those lovely design coffee table magazines) leaving the actual design process to be claimed by other disciplines such as human computer interaction. What we are currently seeing, probably as a result of the rise in interest in the handmade over the "readymade" is a resurgence in the craft of making. What this demonstrates to me is a shift from designer as producer of products to designer as researcher,  incorporating investigations into the process that generates the product. This means that the process is seen as important and the methods used to design a product can be documented so that others can produce something similar. While creative practice can't be replicated,  processes of construction, understandings of materials and tolerances can influence the ways in which products are designed and made. In this way, you end up with a critical engagement in the process rather than a review of the product. A great local example is  bespoke magazine, produced here in Australia as it gives great insights into the design process. And I found this special issue on DIY Democracy and Design but you have to be logged in to go past the first abstracts. So instead I can highly recommend this great BBC podcast which features Professor David Gauntlett from University of Westminster UK and author of Making is Connecting His insights into design processes and making and the ways in which social media contribute to the sharing of knowledge are quite inspirational. and of course, the Knitting Machine Museum which I hope to visit someday.


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