The Unravel Calendar is a 12-month Gregorian knit calendar made entirely of yarn, representing time through rows of stitches. Each day, the user pulls a loose string to unravel that day of the calendar back into yarn: an embodied ritual that creates an opportunity to slow down and actively reflect on material transience and the human experience of time. The calendar leaves the user with a spool of yarn at the end of the year that they may make into another knit artifact.
The Unravel Calendar proposes a material philosophy of products that are made to be unmade. This approach builds on sustainable design movements including design for disassembly, cradle-to-cradle, distributed making, and emotionally durable design. The Calendar is made from a single material that the user disassembles into its usable "raw" form simply by interacting with the object over time. The user can recycle the yarn themselves without special equipment, leveraging the accessibility and latent knowledge of knitting as a domestic and distributed method of making. The yarn is embedded with the memory of the year, carrying its material significance into the next phase of its life as a sweater or blanket.
The Unravel Calendar is a textile made entirely of yarn.
Final calendar iterationIn the final iteration, days unravel in rows across the full width of the calendar.
Entrelac (grid) versionThe entrelac version knits days as side-by-side squares that unravel one into the next. This prototype uses a plating technique where two colors of yarn are knit on each needle, with the order determining which shows on top. This effect is difficult to control, as the fibers can easily twist around each other so the "wrong" yarn appears on top.
Entrelac (grid) versionThe entrelac version knits days as side-by-side squares that unravel one into the next.
The weeks and months of the Unravel Calendar read bottom-up, so January 1 is at the bottom of the calendar. This is so that the calendar can be hung with the unraveled end on the bottom. Each day in the calendar is made up of 1440 stitches, one for each minute of the day
How It's Made
Graphics & Type Design
I treated the calendar graphics as 1-bit pixel art, where each stitch is a pixel with a roughly 3:2 width-to-height ratio. I designed all graphics and type for the calendar first on graph paper, and then used a custom pixel art utility to output graphics as bit-arrays.
I developed two variations on the calendar layout. One follows the conventions and layout of a typical Gregorian calendar, with knit squares representing days, arranged in rows of weeks, which in turn make up blocks of months. When one square unravels, it feeds into the next square to its right. Because knitting typically is done in rows back and forth, I put a significant effort into designing the knit pattern to allow one day-square to unravel into the next day beside it. Designing knit patterns comes down to designing the yarn path. The knit days are implemented in two different modules: A) where yarn enters at the bottom right, runs left to right, then exits at the top left; and B) where yarn enters at the top right, runs up and down, and exits at the bottom left. The pattern is a variation on the entrelac knitting technique, which is typically used to produce a diamond pattern that "resembles basket-woven strips of knitted fabric" and involves the diamonds running in two orientations (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entrelac).
Knitting using the entrelac technique involves a number of complex operations that are further complicated by incorporating two colors. As a result, for the final iteration I returned to a simpler layout where days are knit as rows spanning the full width of the calendar.
With future editions of the calendar, I would like to revisit the entrelac grid technique with two colors. I also plan to explore the possibility for users to personalize the calendar by marking significant days using fabric dye, with the flexibility to color-code these markings or develop their own marking system.