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Textile Messages

Dispatches From the World of E-Textiles and Education


Leah Buechley, Kylie Peppler, Michael Eisenberg and Yasmin Kafai

Textile Messages focuses on the emerging field of electronic textiles, or e-textiles – computers that can be soft, colorful, approachable, and beautiful. E-textiles are articles of clothing, home furnishings, or architectures that include embedded computational and electronic elements. This book introduces a collection of tools that enable novices – including educators, hobbyists, and youth designers – to create and learn with e-textiles. It then examines how these tools are reshaping technology education – and DIY practices – across the K-16 spectrum, presenting examples of the ways educators, researchers, designers, and young people are employing them to build new technology, new curricula, and new creative communities.
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Vignette: Know-It-All Knitting Bag



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Despite a long-held grandma-with-cats stereotype, knitters have been at the cutting edge of DIY-meets-high-tech since the turn of the millennium. The Know-It-All bag is a perfect example of this blend of traditional craft and modern science. A LilyPad Arduino and 10 LEDs embedded into a knitted felt fabric express a series of knit stitches in light patterns. These patterns explore what I think of as a natural interpretation of knitting as engineering.

Crafting a well-shaped knitted object from scratch requires an architectural approach to textile design. The LilyPad portion of the bag augments that textile architecture with electrical and software engineering. I’ve been knitting for twenty years, and programming for nearly as long, but building the circuitry was a learning experience. Significant input from my programmer/significant other and my brilliant knitting group contributed to several improvements in the draft design that ultimately made the programming more usable and the knitting easier to construct.

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