Finally, use for this industrial knitting machine that you bought at a garage sale! Carnegie Mellon researchers have created a method that generates knitting patterns for arbitrary 3D shapes, opening the possibility of “knitting on demand”. Think about 3D printing, but softer.

The idea is actually quite convincing for those of us who are picky about their knits. How many times did we take a hat, glove or knit scarf to find it too long, too short, too tight, too loose, etc.?

If you had nurtured your dress requirements (a 3D mesh) in this James McCann system and students of the CMU Lab Textiles, he could quickly create a pattern that a knitting loom could follow easily and perfectly adapted to your needs.

This has to be done with care – the machines are not the same as the human knitters, of course, and a poorly configured model can lead to breaking the thread or scrambling the machine. But it’s much better than having to build this model in purl.

With a little more work, “knitting machines could become as easy to use as 3D printers,” McCann said in a WCC press release.

Of course, you are unlikely to have one. But creative spaces and designer studios (I think that’s the term) will be more likely to create new and perfectly sized clothes with them.

McCann and his team will present their research at SIGGRAPH this summer.