Knitting and programming

Two things that I do almost every day are programming and knitting. Programming allows me to implement experiments and analyze the results, and knitting allows me to unwind and recharge, restoring some of the mental energy that activities like programming require for me. Programming is analytic and something that Silicon Valley geniuses do a lot; knitting is artistic and something that your grandmother does a lot. Upon deeper reflection, there are some pretty cool links between the two, though. They both require focused attention to detail and following patterns, and the end goal is usually to create something that has a functional purpose.

Image: http://www.clevelandseniors.com/images/misc/grandma-knit.jpg
Image: http://www.clevelandseniors.com/images/misc/grandma-knit.jpg

This blog post spurred my thinking about knitting and programming as related. The post talks about the benefit that handwork has on diagrammatic thinking and fine motor skills, suggesting that knitting will help children acquire analytical skills. Another post suggests even more strongly that exposing young students to more handwork might help them in computational and engineering fields down the line.

Another blog post shows a different intersection between knitting and coding. Karen Shoop, an engineer from Queen Mary University of London, writes about the complex code that knitters use to convey a pattern (to me, this can be sometimes frustrating when trying to learn a new pattern, but programming languages can be equally enigmatic). There are also some programs (both in her lab and elsewhere) that allow users to input sequences of knit stitches and purl stitches, and the generates what that sequence would look like if implemented. (This is apparently crucial for graphic artists who want to put cable-knit sweaters on their graphic people.)

After a little more searching, I found some more cool intersections between knitting and programming. One is a Japanese knitwear designer, Motohiro Tanji, who has also dabbled in fashion based on 3D geometric algorithms. There’s also a weekly meeting of computer hackers in Portland that appears to include knitters. Not many people will dispute that programming is an increasingly important skill, and kids are being exposed as early as possible in many cases… I wonder if knitting will accordingly make a comeback with younger people!

And finally, why didn’t I think of this!? A “Laptop Compubody Sock privacy, warmth, and concentration in public spaces.”

Image: http://sternlab.org/2008/04/body-technology-interfaces/
Image: http://sternlab.org/2008/04/body-technology-interfaces/
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