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News Link • Inventions

Human-powered device "unknits" old clothes to reclaim yarn

•, By Ben Coxworth

Just last week, we told you about the Rocking-Knit chair, a student-designed device that utilizes the user’s rocking motion to knit a hat. After lots of use, needless to say, such a hat would eventually get worn out. Instead of just throwing it away, however, you could recycle it – using another student-designed contraption, the unknitting machine.

The device was created by Imogen Hedges, a Product and Furniture Design student at London’s Kingston University. The idea came to her when she discovered that staff at some charity shops spend hours unraveling old sweaters, so that the yarn can be sold and reused – her device makes that process faster and easier.

At the heart of the unknitting machine is an old bicycle frame equipped with pedals, chains and a bicycle wheel. As the seated user pedals, the wheel spins, and unravels yarn from an item such as a sweater. That yarn passes through a column of steam from a kettle, and is then wound around a series of brackets mounted around the outside of the wheel.

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