Georgia Tech grad student Matt Gilbert has been making some awesome crochet from a pattern generator he made, finding inspiration in acoustics. He and I share a strong opinion that computing and iterative crafting (crochet, knitting, weaving, etc.) have much in common. He writes:

While the Jacquard Loom allowed for the beautiful and elaborate patterns to be woven again and again effortlessly, it automated the process of textile production, putting many people out of work and separating the producer from their product. Most of the weavers (or “spinsters”) who lost their jobs were women. Knitting was also automated in 1589 by William Lee, out of sheer jealousy that his wife was spending more time with her knitting than with him. Surprisingly, a similar historical event occurred in computation; the term “computer” was once a job title and those workers were also often women. Much of computation was seen as a kind of clerical work on par with typing and many of these jobs were lost once computation was automated.

On one level, this project is an experiment in appropriating technology for mass production for the purposes of small-scale production, while maintaining a connection between the producer and the produced good. This is what I call “augmented craft”, as distinct from automated production. The computer plays a role, but it does not displace the person.

I couldn’t agree more. And his sweaters are pretty eye-catching on their own, too! Via Extreme Craft.

Becky Stern

Becky Stern

Becky Stern ( is a DIY guru and director of wearable electronics at Adafruit. She publishes a new project video every week and hosts a live show on YouTube. Formerly Becky was Senior Video Producer for MAKE. Becky lives in Brooklyn, NY and belongs to art groups Free Art & Technology (“release early, often, and with rap music”) and Madagascar Institute (“fear is never boring”).

  • sweavo

    weavers were not “spinsters”. Spinsters spun (wool from fleece), weavers wove.

  • Anonymous

    No need to take it so seriously sweavo no wonder you cannot find a husband…

  • bekathwia

    @sweavo Thanks for the correction!

    @anonymous We have a “be nice” comment policy, so be nice!

  • Anonymous

    @anonymous We have a “be nice” comment policy, so be nice!

    Apologies it was just a joke on the other meaning of spinster.

  • ehrichweiss

    No link to the software? My wife will be saddened.

  • bekathwia

    Ooh, good point…

  • Matt Gilbert

    Yeah, I ussually post the code for my projects, but this code is a little shoddy at the moment. I might clean it up and post it later.

    Also, thanks for the correction on the “spinsters” thing. My bad.


  • Apis

    Amazing stuff! :)

  • harkejuice

    whooo, can’t wait for a download link I just got into amigurumi, so this is perfect

  • qcloud

    It’s good news for woman who like crochet, knitting, weaving. I wonder if it still applies to cotton shirt design.

  • Patrice Walker

    I sure do wish he would make his pattern generator available to the crocheting public. I absolutely LOVE this organic sweater design (sigh).

    • Patrice Walker

      … sorry for the double posting. I got confused.

  • Patrice Walker

    I sure do wish I could get my hands on this crochet pattern generator. I absolutely LOVE this organic sweater design!