Thanks to the work of Janelle Shane and an avid group of knitters, SkyKnit produces new knitting patterns using a neural network trained on over 5000 knitting patterns. It's an interesting application of generative AI. I asked a friend, Katy Franco, to knit one for the exhibit.

Design input

Katy asked for some design input on the choice of yarn color. SkyKnit Time to choose some yarn

When it came time to mount the pattern for the exhibit, I had to reconsider the pinning method I used. I liked the look of the pins but I was worried about them getting loose and becoming a hazard. I mentioned my dilemma to Darius at TheShop and he suggested I try using fishing line.

And because I’d never mounted a knitted pattern before, I decided to give myself lots of options by laser cutting a grid of holes so that I could defer the placement choice until later… that decision would make for a very long evening to come.

When SkyKnit gets angry, it starts etching its name all over the place.

SkyKnit Exhibit Label

SkyKnit 2018
Lacy 2047 pattern from SkyKnit
Pattern with edits by Katy Franco
Frame by Edwardo Martinez

What happens when you feed knitting patterns to a neural network? Janelle Shane worked with a group of knitters and fed a large set of patterns to a neural network that learned from the patterns and generated its own. Much like the attempt that IBM made with Chef Watson in making AI-designed food recipes, the end results didn’t entirely make sense but with a few edits, they were producible.