yihyun lim creates felted terrain, an interactive wool landscape yihyun lim creates felted terrain, an interactive wool landscape
mar 24, 2015

yihyun lim creates felted terrain, an interactive wool landscape

yihyun lim creates felted terrain, an interactive wool landscape
all images courtesy of yihyun lim




influenced by the rolling, mossy landscapes of iceland, ‘felted terrain’ translates the natural environment into a three-dimensional, interactive textile. at a scale as large as an interior, the fabric extends beyond its familiarity as clothing material, and allows users to experience it in unexpected ways. the project was designed and fabricated by yihyun lim, a recent M.Arch graduate of MIT. with ‘felted terrain’ she subverts the idea of knitted fibers as a primitive ‘handicraft’ by integrating soft electronics, computational design, and alternative methods of creation.

the project was influenced by the rolling, mossy landscape of iceland




a circle packing script–an arrangement of circles on a given surface such that none are overlapping and all touch one another–was used to generate a knitting pattern in rhino3D. once created, conductive thread is knitted together with wool yarn at the center of each circle to create capacitive sensor tips. each point is then stitched back to a lilypad arduino–micro-controller board designed for wearables and e-textiles–forming a soft circuit. 


video courtesy of yihyun lim





the lilypad is loaded with a modified capsense arduino code. the serial data it receives is transferred to a processing script–adapted from MIT media lab/high-low tech group’s piano code. each time a bump is touched, the circuit connects and translates into a sound and sine wave graph. every circle corresponds to a specific pitch of musical note allowing for a touch to be felt, heard, and visualized

different types of yarn were tested for wet-felting capacity 




‘felted terrain’ was knitted using a vintage hand-operated machine in one square meter patches. completed sections were sewn together and felted–multiple washings in warm water and soap–to create a tightly-packed textile 30-40% its original size. in its smaller dimensionsbumps created during the sewing process are accentuated, becoming reminiscent of the icelandic landscape from which the concept originated. the project was exhibited at the MIT keller gallery, as part of the perverse landscapes exhibition. the exhibit was supported by the MIT department of architecture, and the director’s grant from the council for the arts at MIT

knitting 3D structure with vintage machine

pattern generated with grasshopper–circle packing–script and wiring pattern for soft circuitry

conductive fibers are embedded in each tip of the 3D forms

in progress – 1m x 1m patches were knitted and stitched together using a singer 155 machine 

the completed fabric was wet felted to form a tightly-packed textile

felting diagram, courtesy of daniela covarrubias

lilypad arduino with xbee was used to wirelessly connect the computer to the textile

timelapse of the knitting process



designboom has received this project through its ‘DIY submissions’ feature, which welcomes readers to submit their own work for publication. see more designboom readers submissions here.

  • Felting is when raw wool fibers are used. When wool fibers have been made into a fabric, as here, the proper terms is fulling.

    Chris Motley says:

have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

art news