Now I have seen everything!!

If you’ve ever made an attempt to learn how to knit you’ll know that while it’s rewarding to create something from your own two hands, it’s also slow and can be painful for your fingers. With this futuristic piece designed by Merel Karhof, who is an RCA grad, there’s no chance of cramped fingers or get bored of slow repetitions.

While I was trying to walk in a straight line from the Royal College of Art towards Kensington Olympia, I was confronted with lots of Cul de sacs. Interesting to me was the way the wind blows in and out these spaces, unlike in normal streets where the wind blows only in one direction.

Looking at this phenomenon, I set myself the brief to use this ‘free’ energy source and create a product with it.

 I created a mechanical wind powered knitting machine, which knits fast when there is a lot of wind and slow when there is not a lot of wind.

For my final show I present the machine as small wind knitting factory that illustrates a small production process from outside college, inside college. This visualizes directly what you can produce with the present amount of wind. The yarn will be knitted outside and enter the college trough the window as a long scarf. Inside there will be a small shop with me in it creating products with the harvested wool.

Once the wool is threaded into the machine, the wind goes to work and socks, slippers and scarves are finished in a very short period of time. Wind isn’t used to create any sort of electrical current to be used to power the device, it simply spins the gears to create warm wearables.

The Wind Knitting Factory was a temporary factory – a mechanical wind-knitting machine – that illustrated a sustainable production process and demonstrated in a direct way that you can produce a viable product using only urban wind power.

From June 26 to July 5 2009, the Wind Knitting Machine was installed on the façade of the Royal College of Art, powered by a windmill with a diameter of 1.2 metres. Along the façade the knitwear moved slowly through the window into the College, fast at high wind speeds, and slow when there was not a lot of wind. The knitted material was harvested at intervals and rounded off in individually labelled scarves. The labels describe how much time the two-meter scarves took to make, and on which day they were produced.

Merel Karhof

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