Studio Elective Review: Machine Knitting

Each semester the average full time Parsons BFA Undergraduate student will take anywhere between 14-19 credits worth of classes. These classes are comprised of major specific core studios, Liberal Arts requirement(s) , History requirement(s), University Lectures, and Studio Electives. This semester I signed up for “machine knitting” as one of my studio elective options. Having only ever knit a basic stockinette stitch by hand, I was worried that machine knitting would be very difficult to pick up. But having been strongly recommended the course by a fellow fashion design student, I decided to dive right in and give it a try.



There are a few sections of machine knitting available at Parsons. One, a 3 1/2 week long weekend intensive course, as well as two other semester long studios (beginner and advanced levels). Having participated in the first round of intensive classes this fall, I’ve already completed one course for the semester ! Over the course of seven, eight hour intensive classes, I really started to pick up on many new techniques for making my own knit fabric. I never realized how versatile knit could be before taking this course.

There are many benefits to the course including facility accessibility, material accessibility, and productivity. Taking the intensive workshop section was one of the most productive courses I’ve taken at Parsons. Sitting in the knitting lab for eight hours can be daunting (don’t worry, you can take breaks freely) but once you get on a role it’s hard to let yourself stop. Better yet, the outcomes are so immediately visible because each class you produce swatches of your own knit fabric designs! Choose your yarn weight from the diverse yarn library graciously donated to the department by various industry resources. This variety allows for lots of experimentation and ideation.


Don’t get me wrong, machine knitting isn’t an easy course. It requires many hours of patience and care. It is a common misconception that “Machine Knitting” stands for “Digital Knitting.” In fact, there is not that much of a mechanical operation system to the process, the majority of it is very manual. What the machine does is speed up the process of knitting each stitch per row; but, casting on, designing variations and patterns within the knit, and casting off are all manual functions that take quite a bit of time.


Overall, when it comes to studio electives, this is probably one of my favorites I’ve taken in my four years at Parsons. Though studio electives are most often major-specific, there are some cases where you can take studio electives outside of your major– so be sure to ask your adviser if you’re interested in taking a course outside of your department

As for all you intended fashion design majors out there, be sure to note this course on your to-do list, especially if you would like to focus in knitwear . For other information on machine knitting, or if you would like to donate yarns to the studio, see our course catalog entry :

Until then, happy knitting !

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