Join 3,494 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Unknitting the Unravelled Sleeve of Care
December 19, 2012 10:14 AM   Subscribe

A 22-year old student, Imogen Hedges of London's Kingston University, has invented an unknitting machine to ravel knitted items and wind the yarn into skeins for re-use. I do have my doubts about how much time this machine would actually save, but the machine, which is made out of a bicycle, is a very clever contraption and a lot of fun to watch in action, and its facility for steaming the yarn as it winds it is ingenius.
posted by orange swan (29 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Needs a TMTOTH tag.
posted by Melismata at 10:19 AM on December 19, 2012


Can't he just get a cat?
posted by bondcliff at 10:20 AM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fuck that! Manual frogging is the best. It's like popping bubble wrap. And it feels so good as the stitches come out.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:21 AM on December 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Mmm, manual frogging.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:21 AM on December 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


If that's your experience of it, Admiral Haddock. Personally, when I rip out an item I've made, my mood at best is one of grim resignation. But maybe you're talking about ripping out someone else's work, which I suppose is something altogether different.

One time some years ago I was ripping apart a sweater while watching TV with my sister. Not having an unknitting machine, it was tedious matter of alternately ripping out an inch or two at a time and then winding the resulting lengths of ripped-out yarn on the ball. Then at one point when I picked up the remains of the piece to do some more ripping, my sister suddenly took it out of my hands and said, with relish, "You wind. I'll rip." I was glad to have her time-saving help, but her obvious pleasure in destroying my work was more than a little unsavoury.
posted by orange swan at 10:27 AM on December 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Ok, knitters of the world please be merciful but is it really, really that simple to unknit something?

I mean, I've pulled a few loose threads and went "oh crap, that doesn't look like it's going to stop unraveling" but for anything besides a scarf wouldn't this thing turn into a case of 'lets watch the bicycle snatch the cloth across the room and into the bike chain when it hits a snag or sleeve portion' pretty quickly?
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:29 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love this. I love that it passes over steam (and the windy thing also catches the knitted fabric if it get stuck!). I love that you can wind it using the winder attached to the chair. I love recumbant posture of the pedaler. I love it all.

I hate frogging, but a gizmo would make it more appealing to me. And imagine how awesome the machine would look between a spinning wheel and a loom (not that I have either, but then again, I don't have an unfrogging gizmo, either!).
posted by julen at 10:32 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd love to watch a film of this device running backwards.
posted by mhoye at 10:32 AM on December 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


As I said in my post, I do have my doubts about whether the machine would save that much time. I doubt it would always work that smoothly. I've ravelled out plenty of things, and you always hit snags where the ends of yarn have been joined or where the yarn just mats together. You'd have to stop pedalling and get up to manually undo the snag.
posted by orange swan at 10:33 AM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I hate frogging, but a gizmo would make it more appealing to me.

I bet that's the first time in human history anyone has ever used that sentence.
posted by mhoye at 10:33 AM on December 19, 2012


Children are excellent for this. I un-knit some junky old sweaters a few years ago and my 12-year-old nephew enjoyed helping so much he spent the next several weeks asking me if I had any more sweaters to take apart.

I'd bet money that if we'd called it frogging I could have enlisted his older brother as well, leaving me free to drink beer and supervise.
posted by stefanie at 10:45 AM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't get the gearing ratio. She's pedaling superslow to keep the unknitter from going too fast, but she also has it geared UP. Why not just gear it DOWN to begin with?
posted by DU at 10:47 AM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Orange Swan, as you can tell, I'm not a knitter. I'm a professional frogger.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:51 AM on December 19, 2012


I could really use this machine right now. The nice thing is the steam smooths out the curly yarn! But I think orange swan is right: you'd probably have to stop pedalling fairly often to undo a mat or snag.

This part of the article gave me the vapours:
My grandmother spent a lot of time knitting sweaters but my mum threw them all away once we’d outgrown them because she didn’t think anyone would want them. With my machine you’d be able to take them apart and knit something new.
THREW THEM AWAY OH MY GOD WHO DOES THAT
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:53 AM on December 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


That is so awesome!
posted by OmieWise at 10:54 AM on December 19, 2012


THREW THEM AWAY OH MY GOD WHO DOES THAT

To be fair, they might have been utterly hideous. Not all knitting is good knitting.
posted by emjaybee at 11:03 AM on December 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Apparently "ravel" means the same as "unravel".

So is this like "flammable" and "inflammable"?
Or are we talking about Ravel the composer, and how he is decomposing?

Not all knitting is good knitting.

And not all sewers are good sewers.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:07 AM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Great. Now I have to buy stock in the awful sweater market again. Just in time for the holidays too.
posted by Blue_Villain at 11:33 AM on December 19, 2012


no Weezer references?
posted by timsneezed at 11:34 AM on December 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


I just want a machine that ravels those big twisty skeins into a knittable ball of wool. No one ever wants to hold them for me and I'm tired of wrapping them around a cushion.
posted by Kit W at 11:35 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I realize now that the machine is less engineered than I thought. It's basically two bikes welded together. She doesn't have a 10 speed there, so she can't gear it down. In fact, do any standard 10 speeds even have a < 1 gear ratio option?
posted by DU at 11:38 AM on December 19, 2012


I'm just thrilled that knitting (and unknitting) became cool again. There was a period of time dating from when department stores stop carrying yarn until the internet united hobbiests around the world when finding people who knit and a good source of supplies was very difficult.

Hurrah for knitting and crocheting! and quilting and embroidery and tatting and sewing and beading and weaving
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:55 AM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just want a machine that ravels those big twisty skeins into a knittable ball of wool. No one ever wants to hold them for me and I'm tired of wrapping them around a cushion.

Merry Christmas, Kit W! This to hold the skein and this to make lovely centre-pull balls.
posted by Concolora at 12:04 PM on December 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


THREW THEM AWAY OH MY GOD WHO DOES THAT

To be fair, they might have been utterly hideous. Not all knitting is good knitting.


That's a good point, and I am definitely in support of getting rid of horrible sweaters. But if the only reason was (as the inventor states) that she and her siblings had outgrown them--ouch! Donation to a thrift shop (or unraveling and re-using the yarn) would be much better.

My neighbours recently gave away some of their late grandmother's beautiful hand-knitted aran sweaters that the kids had outgrown. When they expressed some guilt at having donated them, I said that if I had knit them, I'd be thrilled to know they were going to another good home.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:29 PM on December 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


You know, if you're going to have an electric kettle, why not just use an electric motor, and make the thing about 1/5 of the size?

Somehow, I suspect this is more of an art project, and less of a practical machine.
posted by schmod at 12:32 PM on December 19, 2012


You know, if you're going to have an electric kettle, why not just use an electric motor…

Or, if you need to generate steam anyways, make it all steam powered?
posted by JiBB at 1:39 PM on December 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is straight from Bill Cosby's nightmares.
posted by orme at 4:11 PM on December 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't understand what the machine is supposedly doing. Isn't it just a huge, rube-Goldberg spool?
posted by straight at 4:30 PM on December 19, 2012


This machine is pretty amusing.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 2:24 AM on December 20, 2012


« Older Actor and writer James Urbaniak (Venture Brothers,...  |  IT'S FUN TO USE LEARNING FOR E... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments