MIT researchers are working on AI-based knitting design software that will let anyone, even novices, make their own clothes

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MIT researchers are working on AI-based knitting design software that will let anyone, even novices, make their own clothes

The growing popularity of 3D printing machines and companies like Thingiverse and Shapeways have given previously unimaginable powers to makers, enabling them to create everything from cosplay accessories to replacement parts. But even though 3D printing has launched a new world of customized objects, most of us are still buying clothes off the rack. Now researchers at MIT are working on software that will allow anyone to customize or design their own knitwear, even if they have never picked up a ball of yarn.

A team of researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), led by computer scientist Alexandre Kaspar, today released two new papers describing the software. One is about a system called InverseKnit that automatically creates patterns from photos of knitted items. The other introduces new design software, called CADKnit, that allows people with no knitting or design experience to quickly customize templates, adjusting the size, final shape and decorative details (like the gloves shown below).

The final patterns can be used with a knitting machine, which has been available to home knitters for years, but still require a fair amount of technical knowledge in order to design patterns for.

MIT knitting gloves2

Gloves made using CADknit

Both CADKnit and InverseKnit want to make designing and making machine-knitted garments as accessible as 3D printing is now. Once the software is commercialized, Kaspar envisions “knitting as a service” for consumers who want to order customized garments. It also can enable clothing designers to spend less time learning how to write knitwear patterns for machines and reduce waste in the prototyping and manufacturin

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