This project explores a few computational approaches to use the shape of a knitted garment as input for its pattern.
This experiment combines machine knitting techniques with digital tools, allowing for the creation of intricate and complex patterns that would be difficult or impossible to produce by hand. One of the challenges of such an approach is the need for specialized software to generate the patterns. This post documents the development of a tool that generates computational knitting patterns and can send them to a knitting machine.
This tool is made for knitting machines, but in this case, I specifically used an electronic Brother KH-910 with a hardware modification. The machine was produced in 1980 when computer memory was comparatively limited. While the memory in this machine would allow the user to scan images that could then be knitted, the size of these images did not span the full range of the knitting bed and produced quite small unique patterns. In our machine, this limitation was circumvented by replacing the memory with an Arduino and an AYAB shield. This open-source shield and the accompanying software allow us to connect the knitting machine to any computer, manage the data storage from the computer, and thus print infinite unique patterns.
Textile production was one of the first processes that resembled computation: the Jacquard loom and its interchangeable punchcards even inspired the design of early computers. Also nowadays, textile production lends itself perfectly to the use of computation: an effective approach to quickly generate intricate patterns for which the rules can be defined beforehand. With this experiment, the goal is to create patterns that adapt themselves to the cut or the shape of (parts of) a garment.
Some of the key features I wanted to include in the computational knitting pattern generator:
- Displaying a selection of computational approaches that take the shape of a garment as input.
- Customization of each computational approach, such as changing the intensity, inverting stitch types, and modifying it for any stitch count and row count.
- Previewing the pattern in real-time, allowing the user to see the changes in the pattern as they adapt parameters.
- The ability to create different stitches, such as knit, purl, and increasing or decreasing stitches.
The last feature requires a part we have not yet obtained in our lab called a ribber: an additional knitting bed that can be attached to the main bed of the machine.