knitted remotes | hamefarers’ kist

Hamefarers’ Kist|Knitted Remotes is  a way of connecting across generations by sharing online photo albums with people who don’t use computers.

The development of the kist was inspired by observing carers and volunteers in care homes and museums in Whalsay, Bressay and Lerwick in Shetland share their collective memories of their communities with both visitors and those in their care. Hamefarers is the Shetland term for the returning diaspora. Shetlanders have historically left the islands for economic reasons, sometimes to return, often not – creating a challenge for how the young, tech-savvy diaspora connect with their less technically connected older relatives.

The small box contains knitted pincushions, each one has a different pattern which is associated with people, places or events. Placing a ‘knitted remote’ in the box brings up images from a person or event on the screen in the box lid, which can be flicked through. The owner doesn’t need to know how to log on to a computer or how to access the internet: the images are uploaded by the younger relatives through Flickr photosharing: grandchildren on the other side of the world can upload images to their grandparents kist.

The kist is an an intuitive way of accessing online content and speculate how objects like these might be usefully integrated into our lives.

The kist is enabled by Knitted Remote, an iphone app developed by Paul Mackinnon at the University of Dundee.

The project has developed into KISTproject where we are working with the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS) and a team from the University of Dundee to develop the system to share the lives and personalities of children with complex communication needs.

The Hamefarers’ kist was on exhibited in the CrossingPoints exhibition at the Bonhoga Gallery in Shetland in June 2010 alongside work by Sarah Kettley and Distance Lab. I worked with photographer Chloe Garrick running workshops with children from Dunrossness and Cunningsburgh Primary exploring what home meant to them. The children invented their own interactive devices to help  them connect to their families.

Catalogues for the exhibition with essay by Bill Gaver are available from

You can read more about the project:

White, H. (2013) Handle With Care, in Valentine, L. (Ed.), Prototype: Extending the Dialogue. Bloomsbury. The chapter discusses the value of hand crafted of prototypes in engaging users in conversations about future uses of technology.

White, H (2014) Hamefarer’s Kist. In Rebola, C (ed) Designed Technologies for Healthy Aging, Morgan and Claypool ISBN-10: 1627053174 (forthcoming).


Maggie Leask, Betty Leask, Andrea Williamson, Anne Innes, Hazel White, Eunice Aitken

Software Development Paul Mackinnon

Woodwork Magnus Sholto Peterson, Roddy Mathieson


Malcolm Finnie (video), Chloe Garrick, Hazel White, Archive pictures

Actors in video Diana and Calum Press

1 Response to knitted remotes | hamefarers’ kist

  1. Katharina says:

    love this idea!

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