Talks

wow such fair isle: adventures in electronic knitting

In the 1980's, Nintendo had plans for making a knitting add-on to the NES, with an interface that resembled Mariopaint, but with patterned mittens, sweaters, and scarves as output. Sadly, this product never saw the light of day. Devastated upon hearing this and dreaming about what could have been, a group of Airbnb engineers (who knew nothing about machine knitting) set out to hack a knitting machine from the 1980's to be computer-controlled, using a tutorial from adafruit as a starting point.

Hear about our struggles and triumphs, which ranged from learning to replace knitting machine needles and conduct basic repairs, to emulating a floppy drive and hacking together a custom cable cable to send our own patterns to the machine, to writing our own yarn printer API in ruby/rails and printing our first doge meme in yarn. And watch us (LIVE!) as we send images and knit requests to our yarn server, and behold as it knits ugly sweaters from those images!

  • Amy is a software engineer at Airbnb. Prior to Airbnb, she's done machine learning research on the ASIMO team at Honda Research Institute in Japan and HCI research at the University of Tokyo. She also enjoys hardware hacking and the intersection of art and technology-- in particular, making tools that enable people to be more creative.