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Turning Brainwaves Into Knitted Patterns

NeuroKnitting plots brainwave activity into custom-made scarves.

What happens when you cross knitting with neuroscience? Artist-duo Mar Canet and Varvara Guljajeva, together with MTG researcher Sebastian Mealla, managed to somehow combine this unlikely pairing in their latest project NeuroKnitting. NeuroKnitting plots brainwave activity into a knitted pattern, meaning you can create a nice scarf just by thinking.

It works by measuring and scanning three main features: relaxation, excitement, and cognitive load. Using an EEG headset, the wearer is asked to sit and listen to Bach’s "Goldberg Variations." The resulting brain activity is then transferred into a knitting pattern with every stitch corresponding to a unique brain state.


The reason the group chose music is because of its ability to invoke strong emotions in the listener and stir the brain into activity. As they explain:

Music is one of the most powerful mood inducers, provoking immediate affective reactions that can be deduced by looking at human physiology, as in the case of brain cortical activity. These affective states, that are implicit to every human being, can be measured through EEG technology. By applying this technique, we were able to create unique patterns coming from unique humans traits. It other words, personalized, implicit knitting with context and message.

The knitted garments are developed through an open-source knitting machined called Knitic that Canet and Guljajeva began as a residency project at Marginalia+Lab in Brazil. The machine creates the personalized scarve by turning the three scans into a pattern featuring two colors.

But scarves are merely the beginning of their knitting adventure, because the duo aim to use their idea for even more creative uses of digital knitting technology. “We aim to integrate textile fabrication into the field of digital manufacturing,” the duo says.


Images courtesy of Mar Canet