Craft & Design Energy & Sustainability
Wind-powered scarf knitting machine

MZ_GeekChic_BadgeProduct designer Marel Karhof coupled an antique sock-knitting machine to a windmill. She collects the knitted material at regular intervals, and its length thus reflects the “windiness” of the period over which it was produced. The N+1 step, it seems to me, is to somehow make the amount of wind affect the scarf’s color over time. Perhaps by adding one of these CMYK thread color-matching machines to the mix? [via CRAFT]


16 thoughts on “Wind-powered scarf knitting machine

  1. You could keep track of the relative strengths of wind and sun, by running the output through a low-power solar oven. In strong sun and weak wind, the scarf will bake longer and hotter. With the right dyes, you could get a good color effect.

  2. Or maybe have the thread running through a solar-powered dye pump–the stronger the sunlight on the panel, the more dye gets infused into the thread.

  3. Just have the yarn feed right through a small vat of slow acting dye before it gets spun, to make it darker when the wind is lighter. You could also make it lighter when it goes slower by instead using colored yarn through a vat of bleach.

  4. What a great project! I’m wondering how the original sock knitting machine finished up a sock, personally. Did they have to remove it from the machine in order to make the tow and top? While I think the everlasting tube is pretty keen, part of wishes it were dropping out socks every so often, maybe the size of the sock determined by how quickly the wind blew? Large socks meant a lot of wind over a certain period, or the inverse?

    1. …*toe and top.

      Turns out there are tons of videos on youtube regarding these machines. Be watching those later for a solution to my own suggestion, maybe.

  5. So the CRAFT video podcast (linked to above) was very helpful regarding how socks are actually made using this machine, and it seems that actually making socks with a windmill would be a challenge. I think it’s impossible to change the size of the sock based on wind speed, so we’re back to color change. I do think it would be possible, with the addition of some layers of machinery and complexity, to “automate” the process of sock creation, except it would still be long tubes of socks, connected at toes and cuffs (as demonstrated in the beginning of the CRAFT video).

    Fascinating project, and I’ve got my eyes peeled for a sock knitting machine at antique and junk stores. It would certainly be a find!

    1. It would be impossible to change the sock size, I think, because the size of the sock is determined by the number of pins on the 4 1/2 inch wheel at the center of the knitting machine. Changing the size would entail using a different wheel.

    2. Yes it would. I priced them a couple years back after seeing one at Maker Faire Austin. They are so expensive!

Comments are closed.


I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan