This past July I got to participate in a week-long camp that I think will remain a top highlight of 2014. I attended the E-Textile Summer Camp 2014 at the Paillard Centre d’Art Contemporain & Résidence d’Artistes. I was accepted last year, but then was gutted when my passport and visa didn’t arrive in time from the UK government to let me travel. (I didn’t know it then, but I wouldn’t receive it for another 5 months past the camp, so it wasn’t really a close call. Thanks, Theresa May.) So I was super eager to attend this year.
The patterns for the pig and all the wigs are from Knitting Mochi Mochi by Anna Hrachovec. The knitting of the soft circuit pig was largely unaltered from the original pattern. The main adaptation was that I needed to access the inside of the pig. The original pattern knits the pig from tail to snout and stuffs the pig before casting off and closing up the body. I added an opening and a flap to the underside of the pig by working the body flat instead of in the round for the section between the increases and decreases. I cast on 5 stitches at the end of the row and cast them off again before joining the body in the round and continuing on to the head. This gave me a flap so sew snaps to create a clean closure.
To summarize the previous posts, I made a singing stuffed animal that happens to be a pig. It sings a different song according to the wig it is wearing which functions as an electrical switch between VCC and ground. This change in voltage is detected by an Arduino Uno. This post will go over the Arduino code that I wrote.
The full source is up in github. Please take it and do as you would like with it. Let me know what you get up to with it.
The interaction design for the singing pig was to have a different song start playing when a different wig is placed on the pig. The pig needed to stand by itself without being connected to anything else and the wigs needed to look like nothing out of the ordinary (ordinary wigs for pigs, that is). I wanted the way the wigs attach to the pig to be no different than any other stuffed toy, but they also need to pass current and electrically trigger events on an Arduino. Metal snaps were my go-to item as they very nicely interface between “hard” components (things you normally associate with a circuit) and “soft” components (conductive thread).
I come from a family serious crafters. I’m the only child that didn’t go to art school (though I guess music school isn’t that left field). My sister is currently studying at Savannah College of Art and Design basically learning how to design awesomeness. When she visited me in London this past summer, we came to a rather strange agreement: she would create a mounted deer head art piece for me and in return I would make her a stuffed animal pig with different wigs that sings (she also requested ninja-capabilities, but I had to draw the line somewhere). We agreed this in July and then didn’t really speak of it again, but we both understood that we needed to produce our gifts by Christmas.
This started when she was thumbing through my copy of Knitting Mochi Mochi by Anna Hrachovec and came to the pig with wigs (you can see one of them on the book cover in the upper right corner). We had been playing around with my Sing-a-ma-jigs earlier. I think the Mochi Mochi Land patterns are yearning to be mashed up with some electronics, and when my sister concluded independently of me that the pig should sing (a project I had wanted to do but didn’t have time to devote to at the ITP Camp last summer), I believed I had no other choice than to make it so.
The result is a pig with glowing eyes and the on/off switch as the tail. When the pig is on and there aren’t any wigs on its head, nothing happens beyond the pulsating eyes. When a wig is snapped onto it, the pig sings the song associated with that wig: a black wig sings Bad Romance by Lady Gaga; a beehive sings Tik Tok by Ke$ha; and a mohawk sings Superbass by Nicky Minaj.
And this is what my sister made me (sorry, not a brilliant photo):
This is a post for a future google search for Kobe, Osaka, and knitting, a search I made a couple weeks ago. The most useful hit for me was this blog post. I found this store in Osaka because of the excellent directions. I bought Noro Kujaku, a now discontinued yarn for ¥780 (currently about £5 or $8) and a yarn I can’t find in ravelry or online elsewhere for ¥280 (£2 or $3) . The second yarn was knit up into a furry hat that is extremely popular in Japan at the moment. I indicated I liked it and the woman working in the shop insisted I take the pattern.
The real find was in Kobe, however. Doi Shugei is a very well-stocked general craft store with the basement floor full of yarn. They had a number of Japanese brands I haven’t seen elsewhere. They seemed to be clearing out their stock of Noro, so I picked up Noro Kureyon for ¥515 (about £3 or $6) and Noro Silk Garden for ¥672 (£4 or $7). The shop is in one of the large arcades near Sannomiya station. They have an English translation of the address on their site.
There are also a large number of fabric and yarn shops beneath Sannomiya station. Walk towards the city away from the station under the rail lines, the shops are across the street from a block of nothing but Pachinko. They seem to be only visited by the locals and I doubt you’d find any English, but you might be able to find a good bargain.