By Julie Clothier for CNN
Wednesday, August 3, 2005; Posted: 10:13 a.m. EDT (14:13 GMT)
LONDON, England (CNN) -- An English design graduate has created a device to help knitters keep track of the number of stitches they have knitted.
Rebecca Spender's "KnitWit" device automatically counts the number of stitches in each row by detecting the movement of the knitting needles.
The project was her final-year assignment for a product design degree at Brunel University in west London.
Inspired by her grandmother and aunt, both of whom are keen knitters, Spender wanted to create something to help eliminate mistakes, which can ruin a design.
The knitting needles are fitted with a tiny 5mm x 5mm "accelerometer" motion sensor chip, which uses the Earth's gravity to monitor the tilt or angle of the needles.
Manual counters currently on the market can monitor the number of rows knitted but because a button has to be reset after a row is complete, the knitter can forget and the device becomes useless.
Spender says that because knitting involves the repetitive action of wrapping wool around a needle, the sensor automatically detects when a stitch is complete and when a new row is being started.
It sends the information to a handheld wireless device, about the size of a cell phone, which records the data on an LCD screen, measuring the number of rows completed and number of stitches in each row.
The base station was designed to be lightweight and portable, which would make it ideal for using while commuting on public transport, Spender, 22, says.
It is battery-operated and can be recharged in the same way a cell phone is charged, with the needles being placed in two tiny holes in the base device.
"When you are knitting a pattern, there are different numbers of stitches in each row. It's really hard to try and keep count when you're knitting, especially when you're learning to knit, and to have to go back and count what you've done is really time consuming," she says.
"And if you don't keep track of what you're doing you end up knitting a jumper two sizes too big."
At this stage, the invention is a prototype but she says it has the potential to perform other functions, including memorizing a pattern so it can tell the knitter when it is time to change wool color, whether they have dropped a stitch or if they need to increase or decrease the stitches in a row.
Spender is not sure whether her invention will become a commercial reality, but already knitting enthusiast Web loggers from all over the world, including in the U.S., France and Japan, have given her idea the thumbs up.
"This handy little thing will keep track of your stitches and rows while you mindlessly knit during 'Law & Order,'" says one blog.
Spender will soon take up a year-long post as designer in residence at prestigious boys school Eton College in England.