The Cybernetics of Knitting

Art & Sculpture Craft & Design Music
The Cybernetics of Knitting

One of the coolest wearable art pieces at World Maker Faire 2016 was Teresa Lamb’s Cyberknitics. Teresa built a harness with embedded sensors and electronics that tracks the motion of her hands as she knits and translates that motion into music. Because knitting is a rhythmic process, you can hear that rhythm in the resulting sound that’s generated.

On here website, she explains the overarching idea behind her “cyberknitics” concept and how the resulting project operates:

Teresa Lamb wearing her “Lovelace” utility harness at World Maker Faire. Photo by Dave Mordini.
Cyberknitics is the study of the relationship between craft, technology, and humans. Crafting is calming, healing, communal, expressive, and empowering. It fills a basic human desire that transcends its utility. My work explores what it means to be a crafter now, and what it will mean in the future.

My project is a harness-like vestment that translates the motion of knitting into sound. As someone who knits, I have become increasingly interested in how to capture and convey the natural rhythm of the craft. The music is meant to inspire a stronger connection between the knitter and their process, and to invite the audience to engage with the spiritual practice of creating something from nothing.

This garment detects the movement of the hand which generates sound. As the wearer knits, they can hear their own rhythm and respond to it. Buttons on the forearm allow the user to alter the sound. The sound produced can be heard through a speaker or headphones.

I constructed the harness and arm-piece from leather, then hand-stitched the components in place. The circuit is composed of a combination of pre-made and custom-designed circuit boards. The design is meant to be modular, flexible, comfortable, and evocative.

And this brief video shows the knitting harness in action:

See Teresa’s website for her thesis presentation, “Will Cyborgs Knit,” and her Vimeo page for some WIP videos.

[Thanks to DC artist Dave Mordini for helping me out at World Maker Faire and for introducing me to Teresa’s project.]

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

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