Agnes blinks, looks around, and drops her gaze back to the task at hand — knitting. True to her name, Agnes Roboknit is a humanoid robot that knits on a circular loom, periodically lifting her head to look side to side and blink. Artist and inventor Andy Noyes, who lives in southeast England, explains, “I wanted her to look human from a distance, but obviously be a machine closer up, with metal parts on show.”

DC motors drive her joints, using homemade gears. In fact, almost every part of her body was handmade, including her silicone face and her hands — latex made from plaster casts of a real person. The original plan had her knitting with needles, but after Noyes learned how to knit himself — a necessary step in his design process — he realized a loom would be easier. Agnes debuted at the 2013 Maker Faire U.K.

agnes loom2

Why the name Agnes? “To start with it was A.G.N.E.S., and I wanted it to be an acronym as if from the early days of computers. Though I couldn’t think up a good acronym so it just became Agnes,” he recalls. “Also my grandmother, who used to knit — as all grandmothers do, don’t they? — was called Agnes.”

agnes and andy

Agnes and Andy

agnes roboknitter (2)

Agnes’ arms contain electric motors salvaged from old desktop printers.

Laura Cochrane

I’m an editor at MAKE and CRAFT. I like hiking, biking, and etymology.


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