Knitting 2.0

Unmade Studio: High-Tech Knitwear Inspired by 3D Printing


This isn’t your grandmother’s hobby. Startup Unmade Studio drags knitting into the modern age, taking their cue from additive manufacturing.

Located at the Makerversity workspace in Somerset House, Central London, a group of young entrepreneurs have pledged to revolutionize the old-fashioned skill of knitting.

Calling themselves Unmade Studio, the team have installed three industrial knitting machines, and are applying what they’ve learned about 3D printing to a computer-programmed knitting machine.

The Unmade team have come up with a way to produce small quantities of knitwear on a made to order basis. With a movement away from mass-produced clothing (and the ethical quagmire of sweatshop labor), “printing” clothes to order could revolutionize the textile industry.

Ben Alun-Jones, one of the three founders of Unmade Studio, tells The Guardian:

“We are building a completely new experience for the customer where you can be part of the creation process. We have made our own file format that is like an MP3 is to music – we have created a .KNIT which is a file format for knitting.”

Unmade Studio and the .KNIT File Format

unmadeThe .KNIT file contains the full instructions for knitting an item of clothing. Once fed into the specially customized knitting machine, it generates a code to knit the specific garment.

“They can be used to make something that is useful rather than making just anything,” said Alun-Jones. “You press a button and a garment comes out.”

With this software, Unmade Studio have the potential to connect with every factory in the world, making their production more efficient, and enabling any brand to create products which are unique and specific to their customers.

“Knitting is the future of textiles,” says Alun-Jones. “All the things people dream of doing with 3D printers is one of the oldest things going.”

Unmade Studio started their business in 2013, previously calling themselves Knyttan. This summer, they raised £2m in funding, which has enabled them to expand their team and focus on the knitting revolution.

This month Unmade launches its website and opens its first pop-up shop in Covent Garden which will be there until Christmas, before moving to Selfridges on Oxford Street in January 2016.

“Ultimately we are trying to create the highest personalised garment you can have,” says Alun-Jones.

However, this luxury comes at a cost – around £60 for a merino scarf and £120 for a jumper.

But for Alun-Jones is positive: “Imagine a place where a more appropriate, better use of resources makes things that people want and are involved in. You want to own it and it’s something to be proud of. Knitting is amazing.”