Fabienne Serriere, founder of Seattle-based KnitYak, combined her hardware-hacking and hand-knitting hobbies to develop something truly unique: custom knit scarves that show mathematical algorithms.
Talk about geek fashion.
“If you love mathematics, or computer science, or if you love textile design, a KnitYak scarf is for you,” says Serriere in a Kickstarter campaign that’s hit about half of its goal to date.
She adds: “Your scarf is a wearable piece of unique code art.”
After eight years in Berlin, Germany, Serriere travelled to the U.S. for 11 months before choosing Seattle as the home for KnitYak.
She picked Seattle not for its natural beauty, but another unique reason: humidity.
“Seattle is fairly humid, usually, and that is actually really good for knitting machines,” Serriere tells GeekWire. “Knitting machines drop stitches if it is too dry so you have to do a lot more humidity control if you are not in a humid place.”
But there’s more to Seattle than the weather patterns. She also loved the geeky culture of the Northwest.
“We have a massive amount of geeks that live here which is my core customer base,” she said. “Sales locally have been largely from people who work in tech here. The geeks are strong here.”
The Merino-wool scarves, which will be produced in Seattle, are unique in their design. No two scarves are alike. Customers personalize scarves by picking the exact rule from an algorithm and specifying a width.
“KnitYak scarves ship with the specific code and generating key used to make the pattern on your scarf,” said Serriere in the Kickstarter pitch. “There is something powerful about knowing the mathematics and code behind the pattern you are wearing.”
Serriere said she especially likes a pattern called Elementary Cellular Automaton because it is something that a lot of people have seen before.
“It is something that you learn in basic computer science classes and as a mathematician,” she said. “It is a really easy way to explain how algorithms work and generate a design. They are deceptively simple and make really complex patterns.”
In the future you will be able to submit your own code and request knit products beyond scarves.
Serriere is attempting to raise $100,000 via the Kickstarter campaign, and she’s brought in just over $56,000 with seven days remaining.
The entrepreneur also looking to open-source an entire ecosystem around the knitting machine. She wants to add a climate control system, as well as monitoring system to notify the user of jams.
She also wants to expand into an area known as “fully fashioned knitting” — a technique that can be used to make shaped, flat pieces.
“It can spit out the whole front of a sweater with the shape of the collar and shape of the arm holes and then the whole back of the sweater and each sleeve shaped,” she said. “You would have a fully custom knit sweater wrapped in algorithms, wrapped in coded patterns that are scripted out of computer code.”