At its most basic level, knitting is a method of transforming one continuous line into a three dimensional flexible form. It is possible not only to work with color and pattern, but also to create texture and volume seamlessly, a feat impossible through any other method of rapid prototyping.
For this project, my final for Golan Levin‘s Interactive Art and Computational Design class, I wanted to explore knitting as a way to fabricate generative textiles. Hand Knitters have been using mathematical algorithms to produce forms for a very long time, though usually on a relatively small scale for use such as scarves or collars. I wanted a way to generate a really large amount of fabric for any purpose so that no sections of it are ever repeated.
I decided to use Reaction Diffusion as a base for the system since it seemed rather fitting given its loose ties to the fashion industry. Reaction Diffusion is a process that can be expressed with two equations where two chemicals mix in order to produce an infinite number of forms, which are commonly used in nature for animal pelts/patterns. Robert Munafo does an excellent job explaining the process here
Unfortunately, since the patterns produced are so rare and beautiful, we tend to kill millions of animals in order to harvest them and turn them into rather fetching jackets. Animal cruelty asides, this process is made even more inefficient by the fact that, animal pelts are expensive, difficult to work with, and produce a number of design limitations due to their unusually shaped pelts. With this application, it is possible for the user to create their own unique design in a similar fashion to any size requirement with tweaking.
I began with Karsten Schmidt’s Toxiclibs library for Processing with the intent of creating “swatches” of reaction diffusion to work with
However, Processing became frustratingly slow and unwieldy, especially when it came to seeding the diffusion off an underlying layer of the reaction. So I switched over to C++ and Cinder, building off of the experiments created by Robert Hodgin.
Here are some sample swatches that illustrates the range of patterns that the application could be used to create
[poster created for the final show displaying the process of converting a rD swatch to a knit pattern]
The finished swatch was thrown back into Processing and converted to a knitting pattern based on the color values that fell into each grid of a typical knitter’s cabling grid. I then constructed the final knit swatch using a knitting machine to create an intricate lace like fabric.
I also experimented with the scale of the textile for my collection, Kitsune. By blowing up the cables and yarn overs to a much larger size, it made the random organic looking patterns more dramatic and visable in a runway setting.
[strips of Reaction Diffusion patterns used for cinching the waistband and finishing the hem]
[finished garment using an oversized RD pattern to determine cabling crossovers and yarn overs in the sleeves and bodice]