AdaCAD Open Source Provocations

Parametric Design as Weaving Notation

Part of the research in the lab involves publishing new research in the area of human-computer interaction, specifically as it relates to ongoing integration of craft techniques and engineering practices. Our most recent research, completed in collaboration with Kathryn Walters, Marianne Fairbanks, and 2022 Experimental Weaver in Residence, Etta Sandry studied how the AdaCAD software we have been developing brings about new drafting practices to weavers.

What is Parametric Design?

Recent versions of AdaCAD have implemented the framework of parametric design to the context of woven draft making. Parametric design is a form of design that creates dataflows between different parameterized operations that generate new outputs, in this case, weave drafts. Changing the parameters and/or elements within the dataflow directly changes the outcome. To put it another way, parametric design has you create and connect together different operations that result in drafts, rather than describing each pixel within a structure directly. For example, the “invert” operation takes an input draft and flips the value of all the interlacements. The “stretch” operation duplicates all of the interlacements in a pic/end the number of times specified.

What operations do, then, is math on drafts. They take a draft as input, modify it in some user specified way, and spit out a new draft. More and more complex drafts can be created by chaining many operations together. In the example below, we create a series of operations that arrange different regions of satins next to each other. The designer can then change the satin structure, or width of the regions, to suit their weaving style or ensure clean edges between satin regions. AdaCAD will also calculate the number of pics needed such that the two satins will repeat at the same intervals when woven.

Making Custom Operations

With each collaborator, we developed a custom operation in AdaCAD to support their specific interests or practice.

With Kathryn, we made an operation that converted her existing notation for layer relationships in a textile into a dynamic operation that could map structures onto those relationships. The notation system assigns each weft to a system (a, b, c or d) and each warp to a system (1, 2, 3, 4). Pairings of warps and weft system can be grouped and assigned layers by putting them in parentheses. The first parenthetical group represents the top /front face layer and each subsequent group represents a layer below. Kathryn then connects structures into the different layer groups to determine the structure of that layer, independent of the others. AdaCAD takes care of the drafting that ensures they are on the correct systems and layers.

With Marianne, we developed the “all possible structures” function that uses the principle of combinatorics to systematically discover every possible combination of lifted and lowered heddles in a 4×4 structure (and there are 10s of thousands of them). AdaCAD lets you browse through every possibility, which Marianne started weaving on a shaft loom to study the effects of the different structures.

and with Etta, we developed a series of tools in AdaCAD that support direct-tie looms as well as techniques for sampling across the width of the cloth. The variable width sampler operation, shown below, allows you to use letters and numbers to describe the tiling of structures across the width of a draft. In the image below we have a20 b40 a20 c40 a20. Assigning tabby to a, and the structures to test to b and c, Etta could create and dynamically resize structural regions so that she could repeatedly weave them with different materials and study the effects.

Parametric Design as Weaving Notation

Through this research, we made an argument that parametric design could be best understood as a notation system for complex weaving that can help weavers formalize and document their draft making processes to both themselves and to other collaborators. It sparked our interest in notation systems more broadly, from sheet music to Fluxus event scores, to woven drafts, and how they foreground certain elements of the making process while leaving others to be considered at another time. And while it takes a bit of brain gymnastics to rethink drafting in this manner, it did come with some interesting new possibilities, for instance, to integrate different algorithmic processes into the design and to greatly lower the amount of time required to make quick changes to ones draft.

Taking significant inspiration from the Penelope Project and Ellen Harlizius-Klück’s article “Weaving as Binary Art and the Algebra of Patterns“, we felt like one of the primary benefits of a parametric design approach to weaving notation is to foreground the inherent algebraic nature of weaving to new audiences in a similar vein to how Harlizius-Klück argues that the jacquard punchcards made the algebraic thought processes of weavers legible to the designers of industrial machines. Notations, in this way, manifest the tacit in incomplete but rhetorically useful ways. In our case, it shows how weaving, and weavers, are performing incredibly complex operations using their own bodies, materials, and minds. It also represents these logics in a framework that is increasingly familiar to those in engineering design.

We are incredibly excited about this project, and the ability to collaborate with weaver’s whose practices continue to inspire us and we would like to continue developing AdaCAD to support weavers. If you are interested in learning more, you might consider attending one of following (or looking for talks recorded at these events) or just getting in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

Upcoming Events

April 22-28
Laura will present this research at the CHI Conference in Hamburg Germany

June 23-25
Laura will lead a panel with Kathryn Walters, Marianne Fairbanks, and Etta Sandry about AdaCAD at the Digital Weaving Conference.

June 26
We’ll host a AdaCAD Workshop at the Cleveland Public Library for those interested in attending.

Play with AdaCAD

Its free and always available online at

Read the Full Paper
(its just a pre-print now and will be published in May 2023):

AdaCAD Open Source

Free AdaCAD Workshop

We’re hosting a free workshop for anyone interested in learning more about AdaCAD on June 26, just after the Praxis+Practice Digital Weaving Conference. At the workshop, we’ll introduce AdaCAD and provide one-on-one support on how you may integrate it into your practice.

This In-Person workshop will take place June 26 from 10am – 12pm at the Cleveland Public Library, Martin Luther King Jr. Branch and will be Facilitated by Laura Devendorf and Shanel Wu.

Register at:

Registration and attendance are free and optional, though, we’d love to see how many people might join so please register just to help us plan 🙂

About AdaCAD

AdaCAD is a free and open source tool for drafting. It is a research project of the Unstable Design Lab that is supported by funding from the National Science Foundation. Our goal is to discover new software for draft making that (a) supports complex weavers and (b) facilitates collaboration between weavers and engineers. To do so, AdaCAD foregrounds how draft making is deeply computational and algorithmic.

About the Workshop

At the workshop, we intend to introduce AdaCAD on a shared screen to show its functions and walk through a draft making activity. We will invite participants to follow along on their personal laptops (and can provide a few laptops for those who cannot travel with theirs). We will answer questions, provide one-on-one support, and take feature requests for anything you’d love to see the software doing 🙂

What is Open-Source

AdaCAD is an open-source software project which means that all the code for running the software is made available for anyone who would like to build onto it or add new features themselves. Because the project is currently supported by the National Science Foundation, we are able to offer it for free. You can play with the software online at, preferably with the Google Chrome browser.

Announcements Experimental Weaving Residency

Announcing the 2023 Experimental Weavers in Residence

Two pieces by Elizabeth Meiklejohn

Our experimental weaving application process has concluded and we are happy to announce that our 2023 Experimental Weaver in Residence will be Elizabeth Meiklejohn.  We have also extended an invitation to Kathryn Walters to join us in Fall 2023 as an extension to our residency program that focuses on collaborations with students currently studying at other academic programs. 

This year, we had a much smaller, but very high quality set of applicants. This resulted in us combining the shortlist and finalist phases by focusing on the top six applicants, each of whom brought unique perspectives and approaches to our ever-evolving notions of what experimental weaving is and how we might be able to support it through collaborations across craft and engineering. We chose to work with Elizabeth for the next residency because her practice combines garment design, custom software development, woven structure and a really inspiring practice of hacking and building her own equipment to explore new possibilities for woven structure. Her aesthetic beautifully crosses the digital and physical, often playing at the intersection with simulations as much as shimmering multilayer structures. We are excited to learn from her approaches and share them with this community. She recently finished her MFA in Textiles from the Rhode Island School of Design and will be joining us in February 2023. 

Kathryn Walters

One of the hardest parts of the residency selection process is choosing only one person, and we’ve been looking around for ways we can grow the program. In this spirit, we extended an invitation to Kathryn Walters to join us in the Fall as a kind of research exchange. Kathryn is currently a PhD researcher at the Swedish School of Textiles who elegantly pushes the boundaries of woven structure, her work demonstrates techniques for self-shaping, shape changing materials and structures. You can learn more about her (amazing!) practice by viewing her talk in this year’s experimental weaving talk series: Kathryn will be visiting the lab in Fall 2023. 

Stay posted for more updates from the residency and a future call for 2024 artists in residence. We will also continue our experimental weaving talk series next year to feature some applicants from our process and to bring broader attention to the practices of experimental weaving across the world.  In the meantime, we have published all shortlist applicants, finalists and committee members who have provided permission below.

This program has been funded by the National Science Foundation under grant # 1943109.

2023 Residency Finalists

Isabelle Camarra

Isabelle Camarra is a Material designer specializing in industrial weaving and knitting whose work playfully integrates texture and biomaterials. 

Kathryn Walters

Kathryn Walters investigates transformative textiles and three-dimensional form. Her work explores form-generating behaviour.

Lars Shimabukuro 

Lars Shimabukuro’s work crosses photography, printmaking and weaving and showcases playful combinations of color and structure. 

Lucy Smyth

Lucy Smyth is Fascinated by stubborn materials and challenging structures. Her mathematical explorations spans costume and weaving, focusing on texture and form. 

Melanie Olde 

Inspired by biology and structure, Melanie Olde is an Australian-based researcher and weaver, who investigates movement and sensory experience in three-dimensional cloth.


Why These Three?

Portfolio Links for Laura Devendorf and Marianne Fairbanks:

Laura Devendorf

Personal Practice:

Research Lab:

Marianne Fairbanks

Personal Practice:

Research Lab:

Experimental Weaving Residency

Call for Applications

Applications for the Next Experimental Weaving Residency are Now Closed

Spring 2023 : Cross-section

The Unstable Design Lab is hosting its third experimental weaving residency with the goal of developing new techniques and open-source resources that can co-evolve fiber arts and engineering practice.  Our annual theme, cross-section, speaks to our ongoing interest in growing community at the intersections of craft and technology. As such, we look to this call to not only select a resident, but to identify a group of like-minded folks with whom we can collectively define the commitments and possible societal contributions of experimental weavers. As such, we invite interested parties to attend a series of experimental weaving talks we are hosting this Fall.

The chosen resident will work with the Unstable Design Lab, as well as researchers from the ATLAS Institute and University of Colorado more broadly, to create a series of swatches inspired by challenges currently faced by engineering researchers. For example, shape weaving techniques for creating form-fitting and/or compression garments for counter-pressure spacesuits, integration of power harvesting diodes, compostable or easily reusable textile structures for zero-waste manufacturing, or structures that dynamically fold and unfold to support mechanical structures or soft robotics (to name a few, but not all, possible spaces for experimentation). Applicants may wish to review our recent projects to get a stronger sense of the interests and values of the group. Applicants should be open-minded, curious, and above all deeply knowledgeable about woven structures and their behaviors. No knowledge of computer science, electronics, or engineering is required for participation.


Application DeadlineAugust 30, 2022
Notification to Selected ApplicantOctober 1, 2022
Residency Dates12 weeks between Jan 15-May 15


The resources available to the resident include a desk in the Unstable Design Lab, priority access to a TC2 digital jacquard loom (3W warped at 60 ends per inch), access to other weaving, spinning and knitting equipment in the lab, access to traditional and novel weaving materials, programming support for some custom software needs AdaCAD, access to the fabrication facilities at the ATLAS Institute, access to motion-capture and high-end audio equipment in the B2 Center for the Media Art and Performance. While we can provide instructions for getting started on the TC2, the artist is ultimately responsible for the design and production of their swatches—there is no technician devoted to realizing the work on the equipment.

As a collaborator in the Unstable Design Lab you will be working among artists and researchers across many domains of research. You would share immediate lab space with PhD students Deanna Gelosi, Eldy Lazaro, Mikhaila Friske, Sasha De Koninck, and  Shanel Wu as well as undergraduate researchers. We will work in close partnership with Allie Anderson’s Bioastronautics Lab, specifically with her PhD student Ella Schauss


The resident will be expected to work at least 30 hours per week with the lab members and collaborators evolving concepts that address the artist’s interests as well as the engineering teams’ needs. The selected resident must be willing to share any techniques they develop as open-source resources to both the collaborators and public more broadly, including producing necessary documentation for others to replicate their techniques. To facilitate the exploration of projects of mutual interest, the organizers will schedule meetings with various researchers during the first week of the residency to better understand their needs and challenges when it comes to integrating textile structures into their research. The resident, then, will be able to select the challenges that most interest them to further explore, sharing their findings with the research teams as they develop.

Stipend, Housing and Timeline

Stipend*$9520 USD
Airfare Reimbursement$450 USD
Materials**$500 USD
* the stipend will be taxed by the US government and this may have significant impact for international applicants
** materials budget does not go directly to artist, but is to be spent by the lab during the residency on supplies determined by the artist.

The residency scheduling is flexible but should total 12 weeks should take place between January and May 2023 in Boulder Colorado. The resident will receive $9520 as a stipend, $450 towards airfare to and from Boulder, and a materials budget of $500. The artist will be responsible for locating housing and travel to and from the university. International applicants are welcome to apply but should note that the stipend will be lower due to taxes taken by the US government on international workers. 

A Note for International Applicants

We welcome international applications. If you are of non-US citizenship, please make note that the stipend will be particularly affected by US taxes on international workers as well as some fees for VISA processing in your country of citizenship. As we reach the later stages of the application process, we may use this information to provide you with more specifics on the taxes you may incur as well as verify with the host university that you would be eligible to work within the institution. We can provide flexibility in the residency dates to support applicants who may be facing additional challenges obtaining a VISA and/or traveling to the US due to current current restrictions given COVID. For more information on the particular program through which we host residents, visit:


2019: The first iteration of this residency ran for a 6-week period in summer 2019 with support for the center for craft materials-based research grant. The resident, Sandra Wirtanen, and collaborator, Katya Arquilla, focused on the development of techniques for weaving dry electrodes for physiological monitoring. During the residency term, Katya and Sandra worked closely to sample different methods for producing a shape fitting garment with integrated electronics as well as different structural explorations of woven electrodes. The results and outcomes are documented in several formats here.

2022: After taking a delay for COVID, we changed the residency structure to allow for a longer time for the resident and our team to work together during the regular university semester. We also decided to focus more on ideation and play as opposed to the production of a single concept outcome. Our next residency began in Jan 2022 with our selected weaver, Etta Sandry. While the residency was postponed to Fall 2022, we worked closely in the first month to produce instructional materials related to woven structure and its potential applications to engineering research. Those results can be found here: 


Laura Devendorf
Director of the Unstable Design Lab
Assistant Professor, ATLAS Institute
& Dept. of Information Science

Steven Frost
Faculty Director of the
B2 Center for Media Arts & Performance

Allison Anderson
Assistant Professor, Smead Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences

Selection Committee

The selection committee and organizers will work together will determine the finalists. The organizers will ultimately select the chosen resident.

Kristina Andersen,
Future Everyday, Eindhoven University of Technology

Sarah Rosalena Brady,
Computational Craft, University of California Santa Barbara,

Annet Couwenberg,
Fiber and Material Studies, MICA,

Annapurna Mamidipudi,
Scholar and Craft Researcher,

Alex McLean
Research Fellow, Then Try This

Holly McQuillan
Critical Textile Topologies & Materializing Futures, TU Delft

Vernelle A. A. Noel,
Director of the Situated Computation and Design Lab, Georgia Tech

Jane Patrick,
Creative Director, Schacht Spindle Company,

Etta Sandry
Weaver and 2022 Experimental Weaver in Residence

Clement Zheng
Assistant Professor, National University of Singapore.

Experimental Weaving Residency Public Resources

Experimental Weaving Talk Series

Wednesdays at 9AM Mountain Standard Time
Online, Fall 2022

Join us this Fall as we invite a few of the weavers we admire describe their approach to weaving and experimentation. Our goal with the series is to bring attention to various weavers whose work animates possibilities for woven structure and weaving practice. Specifically, the talks will be intended for the public as well as the students the ATLAS Institute at the University of Colorado Boulder, which grants a degree in “Creative technology and Design”. In defining experimental weaving, we also aim to illuminate how these practices are inherently practices of technological innovation and how students of technology can benefit from learning about the histories of weaving and utility woven structure.
All talks will be hosted via Zoom and you are invited to register for any/all of the talks at the bottom of this page

Melanie Olde

September 14

Bio:  Melanie Olde is a weaver, researcher, teacher and artist. She researches cellular structures for form, function and array to interpret these in biomimetic, moving, woven 3-dimensional cloth to advance innovative exploration. Olde works on an AVL 24 shaft CompuDobby Loom in Canberra, Australia and has also worked with mechanical and computerized jacquard systems.

Kathryn Walters

image credit: Kathryn Walters

September 28

Bio: Kathryn Walters is a PhD researcher in Textile Design at the Swedish School of Textiles. Her research investigates transformative textiles developing three-dimensional form. She explores emergent behaviour arising from the combination of material properties and textile structures, where textiles are seen as systems with responsive properties. Her process embraces the use of industrial jacquard looms as an extension of weaving as craft.

Jessy Lu

image credit: Jessy Lu

October 19

Jessy Lu is an artist exploring textiles as a form of computation with respect to both their historical origin and technological future. With a background in R&D as a materials engineer, she has worked on exploratory applications for fabrics used in hardware technology. Her art practice focuses on exploring image processing techniques and the use of algorithms to determine pattern and color allocation. Currently, Jessy is working on a research project in Taiwan studying knots as a form of craft tradition, sculptural object, and as a framework for tactile modalities of aesthetic experience.

Alyson Ainsworth

image credit: Alyson Ainsworth

October 26

Bio: Alyson Ainsworth is a New York City-based weaver whose work explores overcoming traditional limitations of the loom. Through the use of materials, hand manipulations, and complex weave structure, she creates weavings that combine new techniques with the familiar. She is interested in pushing the boundaries of weaving as a discipline—from both art and design perspectives—and exploring the connection of functional and aesthetic textiles in the process.

Victoria Manganiello

Image Credit: Victoria Manganiello, @softmonitor, @juliansgees

November 9

Bio: Victoria Manganiello considers weaving a form of communication. Her ethereal fabric pieces radiate color and light while referencing computer programming and bar codes. Manganiello is currently producing a documentary film about Women and Textiles and is an instructor at NYU and the Parsons School of the Arts in New York. Her textile-based installations combine hand-spun yarns and hand-mixed dyes with modern materials and techniques, creating conceptual hybrids that lean towards the future while employing methods from the past. 

Etta Sandry

Image Credit: Etta Sandry (left) and Brandon Brookbank (right)

November 30

Etta is the 2022 Experimental Weaver In Residence, this talk will present her work as well as the outcomes from the residency.
Bio: Etta Sandry is an artist, educator, and facilitator from the midwestern United States, currently based in Tiohtià:ke/Montreal. Her material-focused research is rooted in fibre and weaving and spans media through sculpture, writing, and installation. Etta completed her MFA in the Fibre & Material Practices program at Concordia University in the spring of 2021. She has exhibited her work in the United States and Canada and was the 2022 Experimental Weaver in Residence at the Unstable Design Lab in Boulder, Colorado.


Experimental Weaving Residency Provocations

An Intro to Weave Structure for HCI

This publication includes a workbook on weave structure as well as a reflection on how HCI (Human-Computer Interaction) researchers might look to craft publications for inspiration when communicating the contribution of craft-oriented research. The workbook included in this publication is intended for HCI researchers to learn the fundamentals of weave structure in the context of weaving force sensors. The project emerged in collaboration between the lab and Experimental Weaver in Residence Etta Sandry and our shared interests in communicating the technicality and fundamentals of weaving to broad audiences.

You can read the full publication on Issuu, however, you will be able to download when it becomes officially published in June.


Laura Devendorf, Sasha de Koninck, and Etta Sandry. 2022. An Introduction to Weave Structure for HCI: A How-to and Reflection on Modes of Exchange. In Designing Interactive Systems Conference (DIS ’22). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 629–642.

Full Publication and Talk:

Download the Publication
Watch the Video


We will be reforming this activity book into an interactive format that’s linked with AdaCAD. Stay posted.


Knitting Access

Wearables are often a primary means of collecting data on the body and in-situ. The data collected upon wearables can shape or record interactions in real-time, prompting practices like self-care and reflection. In this work, we became intrigued by textile structures that were non-digital, but in themselves “stateful”. We explored how these textile interfaces can fit meaningfully into the lives of people with disabilities as sensors and display. Our study revealed interesting practices that emerged for self-tracking that were qualitatively unique in their close relationship to the body and deeply physical modes of engagement. Our findings offer insights into (1) qualities of textile interfaces that are important to people with disabilities, (2) new forms of data that people found to be worthwhile in tracking, and (3) knitted interfaces for sensing and display.

Annika Muhlbradt*, Gregory Whiting, Shaun Kane, Laura Devendorf. Knitting Access: Exploring Statful Textiles with People with Disabilities. Forthcoming at DIS 2022.

Full Text and Presentation:
coming in June 2022


Biofoam as Interactive Material

Each new material developed opens a broader pallet of aesthetic and functional possibilities for designers. This paper demonstrates biofoam, a material that is water-soluble, biodegradable, and can be made conductive. We describe the material in detail: the process of making the material from scratch, the material’s fabrication into forms with hand-craft techniques, and present two HCI specific applications of the biofoam. The biofoam can be cooked, molded, layered, extruded, dissolved or recooked opening up possibilities to consider the entire life cycle of the material in the design process. We contribute design considerations to allow designers to “tune” the biofoam to the desired quality, as well as a characterization of many aspects of the biofoam such as compression, spring back time, water permeability, and electrical conductivity. Finally, we discuss the unique opportunities this material and its life cycle bring to the design and HCI communities.

Eldy Lazaro Vasquez*, Netta Ofer, Shanel Wu*, Mary Etta West, Mirela Alistar, Laura Devendorf. Exploring Biofoam as a Material for Tangible Interaction. Forthcoming at ACM DIS 2022.

Full Paper and Presentation:
Will be released after the conference takes place in June.

AdaCAD Public Resources

Virtual AdaCAD Workshops

AdaCAD is a design tool we have developed for weave drafting. It specializes in generating and managing complex weaving structures that are most often used in Jacquard weaving. It is free, open-source, and under active development as a tool intended to bridge engineering and craft. Specifically, it uses the design paradigm of “generative design” within the context of weaving that allows one to dynamically generate and adjust weave structures programmatically such as the structures shown above (generated using the “random” structure generator where the weaver and specify the size and ration of raised/lowered heddles) and the resulting fabric on the right.

Want to play with it on your own? Follow any of these links:

Alternatively, you can sign up for a workshop to learn more.

We’re running an hour-long workshop to teach people how to use the tool and our next workshop will be April 1 @ 10am Mountain Time (9:00 PST, 12:00 EST, 18:00 CET). If you would like to join, send us your email and we’ll send you a zoom link.