Project Update

Website Progress & Content

I’ve been working on building the web space for my project while trying to do as little coding as possible. I am using Webflow as my platform of choice. I have taken some photographs, played around with the layout and interactions as well as continued to write the content for each page. I plan on scanning all my swatches early this week and continuing to fill the site. In terms of the final show, I’ll most likely need an iPad or monitor for use although a laptop/iPad size one would be preferred as that is the scale I focused my web design in. I have also designed a survey to integrate into the site to gather data and information from visitors about their own perceptions. The survey asks visitors to choose words that they associate with “knitting” it also asks them if they know how to knit as well as their location.

Here are some screenshots of my progress (they are all still being worked on).

In the survey to understand perceptions, I have participants choosing between two words. The one they choose is what best represents “knitting” to them. The only question that is not a pair is feminine vs. masculine vs. androgynous. These questions are followed by a few multiple choice questions about if they know how to knit and how they learned if they do (this will help when designing learning tools/workshops). Finally the last few questions are about age, gender, and location. The survey doesn’t take any identifying information and only takes a few minutes to complete. It will be embedded into the site and will open in a pop-up on the page.

Here is the list of pairs

difficult

historic

traditional

confusing

fast

relaxing

comfortable

enduring

essential

accessible

easy

futuristic

modern

simple

slow

stressful

intimidating

temporary

luxury

inaccessible

Experimenting with Data & Storytelling

Project Update

Despite having a fairly clear project brief, I’ve taken this project as an opportunity to explore many outlets and methods of challenging perceptions. I’ve taken many pivots, some successful and unsuccessful. With the help of many tutorials, I’ve experimented with python scripts to sort and visualize data, 3D modeling a knitting animation, and started building my digital story.

During my research, I discovered a new interest in data visualization and how it can be used to tell a story. We all tell stories with our work and I found that adding interpretations/visualizations of data is one way to add more depth to a narrative. This spurred my interest in exploring python scripts. Even after running a few basic scripts successfully, I decided to abandon this method as I felt the learning curve was too steep with the time I had left.

hex code dataset

Instead, I chose to explore other methods including more abstract methods of building and visualizing data. The colored dots above and the spreadsheet to the right show my first attempt at creating a data visualization for this project. I am familiar with mapping, so this was a fun exercise to do. Each of the colored dots represents a hex code for a photo of “knitting.” I entered the term “knitting” into Google and extracted each color from the top 100 images that came up in the search results.

As the term “perceptions” can include many subcategories, narrowing down my research and narrative has been a little difficult. I’ve been continuing to talk with friends, mentors, and do research on how to best tell my narrative. This narrative is an important step that will guide the 2nd phase of this project which involves taking the materials and knit structure and exploring their use within speculative futures.

Other Updates:

I followed a tutorial to create a procedural knitting animation in Blender and was able to build most of it before I ran into some difficulties with one of the add-ons used to build it. For time purposes similar to the python scripts I put this aside to come back to if I have extra time (See top image).

I also spent time working on my 100-word statement and compiling more copies for the site. I decided to create a brief historical overview as mentioned in my earlier project plan. I decided to focus it primarily on the “strange” or lesser-known history of knitting as I think it adds a layer to the new perception I’m trying to share.

plastic bags. I also recently thought of exploring ways to reuse old paper masks as I have quite a few. I’ve also started compiling a shot list and what equipment I will need to photograph all these swatches and how to film a few videos of hands knitting within the next two weeks (I’m looking for models of all skill levels).

I have also started building my website and the branding guide. (See top image) I have been thinking about how every aspect of this site can influence visitors, including colors, animations, typography, and imagery.

Moving forward, I will be continuing to map out the website. I’d like to do a quick sketch of the narrative flow, finalize the branding guide, continue writing the copy, and potentially create more data visualizations with data or research that already exists. It was also suggested to me that I could use the site to gather more data by asking visitors what comes to mind when they hear/see/read the word “knitting” through a fill-in-the-blank pop-up window on the landing page. I’m intrigued by this idea and was to explore it further.

Project Plan – To be Updated

This page will be updated each week!

Project Plan – Phase 01: Digital Platform + Workshop

11/01 – Scoping & Mapping out Project

Goal:

-Research into Perceptions, History, and Teaching

-Map Out Digital Platform

-Start Material Swatches 

-Learning: How will I teach knitting?

What did I actually do?

Checked out books from library on Perceptions, History & Teaching

-marked sections to read

Map Out Digital Platform

-Information Architecture, Features

-Content Needs – will need to photograph, 3D models?

-Decided on Platform: Cargo Website – Need a name!

Start Material Swatches

-finished Cotton Yarn & Jute (will redo)

-Collected plastic bags from classmates

-Listed other potential materials

11/08 – Continue Scoping & Making Progress

Goal:

Research into Perceptions, History, and Teaching

-Read Books on Knitting, Nature + Design, Craft 

Map Out Learning Tools

-Steps, Content Needs, Copy

-How will I teach? – Do I need to check out equipment for video or recording

-Research the idea of teaching ‘problem solving’ instead of just following steps/instructions

*These will need to be tested with a group for effectiveness

Continue Material Swatches 

-Cut up Plastic Bags – Photograph Process

-Other Materials?

What did I actually do?

Checked out books from library on Perceptions, History & Teaching

-marked sections to read, started reading, compiling bibliography

Got a grant to fund the website hosting & compensate ‘users’ to test out learning tools

More to come…

Final Project: Progress

Update Week 11/03

Most of my work has been online – lots of mapping, laying out content plans, taking to different people about best website hosting, 3D scanners, and potential school partners. I made a list of possible materials and I am working on grouping them by organic, manufactured, and repurposed (categories to be workshopped). I put out a call for recycled materials including plastic bags and plastic bottles. I knit a swatch out of cotton yarn and attempted to knit one out of jute twine. Lots of incremental progress across the project and its many components.

I would describe by process thus far as the following image:

Image Source: The Process of Design

Here are some photos that may further explain my process/work thus far.

Visit my Mural Board

Final Project: Mind Mapping & Project Plan

This past week I spoke with numerous professors, classmates, former coworkers, mentors and family members about this project. My hope was too narrow down, but I was only gifted more ideas to consider and explore. I’ve come to the realization this is a multi-year project and for the purpose of this class I’m choosing to focus only on a small section (see below). Many of the current ‘futuristic’ ideas/designs have been dominated by the use of knitting machines which can be expensive and inaccessible to the average crafts person. Many speculative design solutions and resources are extremely expensive, proprietary, or require extra study to understand. This project is challenging this privilege and power held by a few by using a method of making that the average person can learn and use…Knitting. 

All of my lofty ideas of using knitting as a foundations for speculative futures and sustainable social change are grounded in the fundamental use of knitting as a structure to build upon. For the purpose of time and feasibility I’m choosing to focus on knitting as an accessible method of making and question its traditional perception through how it is being presented + what materials are being used. I’d also like to note that I’m not trying to erase the long-standing historic and cultural tradition of knitting, but instead create a new thread/perception that can celebrate what has already worked, lead us into the future, and make knitting more accessible to a wider community.

Questions + Themes moving Forward:

Can a platform exist that simplifies/consolidates the resources that already exist and removes the barriers to learning for beginners?

Can alternative materials challenge the traditional perception of hand knitting?

How can other cultures and traditions be celebrated to expand the Eurocentric perceptions of knitting?

Project Plan:

As shown above, the first step of this project is mapping my thoughts, research and ideas into a large flowchart/mind map. This will be an ongoing part of this project and will be continually updated throughout this semester and beyond. I’ve outlined the main components and goals of this first phase below:

1. Encourage Learning 

Simplify and improve accessibility learning. Assess language, consolidate resources and integrate historic and cultural precedent

  • Digital Platform – Website 
    • Visual, Audio, and Written Learning Tools/Tutorials
    • Timeline/Map of Historical Precedent

2. Explore Alternative Materials

Move away from traditional fibers. Consider adaptive reuse, more natural and found materials

  • Digital Material Library
    • Create swatch of 1-2 materials (ex: plastic bottles, recycled clothing)
    • Record basic info – usage, specs, material specs
    • Test? – Stretch, Burn, Wash, Leave outside in heat/cold 

Final Project: Narrowing Down & Research Question v.1

“Who even knits anymore?”

“Wow you are such a grandma!”

After 13 years of hearing comments like these, I’ve enjoyed pushing back and questioning people. Why did the view knitting as an outdated activity…why did everyone’s mind immediately go to the image of an older woman at the local craft store.

There are a few artists, designers and architects challenging the traditional perspective of knitting. Elizabeth Zimmerman, a change maker of the past, revolutionized hand knitting by focusing on seamless knitting in the round. There have been few names as notable as hers since then. Newer innovations in the knitting world have included social media platforms for knitters to connect and an exploration of knitting machine applications across industries especially within fashion.

Some designers have experimented with knit structure such as knit sneakers, but at a much smaller scale in comparison to other traditional methods of making (ex: weaving). These projects have been dominated by the use of a knitting machine which are are expensive and inaccessible to the average craftsperson.

On the other hand, speculative design is used to predict future solutions, question our current society, and visualize the vastness of our imagination. It too can be inaccessible and expensive for the average creator/designer to explore.

For my final project I want to challenge the traditional perspective of hand knitting even further by exploring it’s application in the future using speculative design. I am still trying to figure out exactly how to do this. Part of this narrowing down is exploring a problem that speculative design could provide potential ideas for. At the moment, climate change and rising temperatures are intriguing to me. Temperature control is something that can be used across various industries, both in the present and future. A very important part of this project is the ethical considerations of making futuristic tech and designs available to the average person. Many innovative, futuristic design is extremely expensive, proprietary or requires extra knowledge to understand it. I want to challenge that by using a method of making that the average person can learn and use.

Wearables are one way in which I could see the possibilities of knitwear and temperature control being combined. Furniture or construction materials are others. Rather than limit myself to a single type of object, I think the best way to move forward is to experiment with knitting different materials, knit stitch structures that could naturally cool/heat, and/or create swatches to test out the integration of electric temperature control. I have many ideas swirling around in my head about future applications, but for now I need to start experimenting.

Research Question:

How can the traditional perception of knitting* be challenged by exploring it’s application in futuristic objects and structures?

*Hand Knitting for accessibility & feasibility

Final Project: Initial Brainstorm

Sources So far:

Existing Products

Existing Tech > NASA Fire Shelter:

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/langley/nasa-works-with-us-forest-service-to-improve-fire-shelters

Biomimicry + Weaver Birds:

https://www.thisiscolossal.com/2013/02/massive-bird-nests-built-on-telephone-poles-in-southern-africa/

https://atmos.earth/desert-cold-commune-birds-weavers/

Wildfires + Air Pollution:

https://grist.org/justice/wildfires-are-getting-worse-and-so-is-the-deadly-smoke-they-bring-with-them/

Overheating + Baltimore:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/01/us-cities-heat-baltimore-suing-oil-gas

TC2 Loom & Experimental Weaving

Testing TC2 & Knitting with Conductive Materials

After last week’s introduction to drafting and AdaCAD, we finally got to put some of our designs to the test with the TC2Loom. None of the pieces turned out as expected. The loom squished many of the designs and large sections of white just ended up being a fairly loose mess of threads. The most successful patterns were the ones that had small repeating sections rather instead of large color blocked sections. The first section (orange, black & white) was just with regular thread while the next section (black, blue & white) conductive thread was also woven in.

The second part of the class was experimenting with different structures or weaving/knitting/crocheting/tatting while integrating conductive thread. I chose to experiment with knitting and used a simple cable pattern which I later tested with a conductivity meter.

Cable Pattern:

Row 1: K allThe second part of the class was experimenting with different structures or Row 2:

Row 1: K all

Row 2: Knit the Knits & Purl the Purls

Row 3: K1 *C4B, C4F* K1

Row 4: Knit the Knits & Purl the Purls

Row 5: K all

Row 6: Knit the Knits & Purl the Purls

Row 7: K1 *C4F, C4B* K1

Row 8: Knit the Knits & Purl the Purls

Final Project: Early Thoughts

This class was not what I expected in some ways I like how I’ve unexpectedly renewed my interest in weaving and been introduced to academic theories around craft practices.

At the same time, I’m starting to feel the same disconnect that drove me from industrial design > back to grad school for social design. Industrial design a field focused on products and physical objects is built on consumerism, mass-production, and marred by excessive waste.
Many talented designers are actively working against these flaws, but others like myself choose to move out of it into other areas in hopes of creating more tangible impacts on our communities.

Having been in this class for a few weeks I am confronted with the same thoughts I had that pushed me to return to school. There has been little talk of social impact, the impact of colonization on these practices, sustainability, or equitable access to these skills.

Are we just creating for the sake of creating with no consideration of our impact on the world and those around us?

Maybe I’m being premature in my critique?

A strong technical foundation is always helpful in any creative practice. And yet I feel it is our responsibility as makers to consider and discuss beyond just the technical.

Either way, my mind is starting to turn on how I might combine some of my technical textile skills (weaving, knitting, sewing, etc.) with my social impact work. How I’ll do this I’m not quite sure.