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Apparel firm uses high-tech knitting

To learn how to program a computer-aided knitting machine, knitting professor Olivia Eaton has taken on an apprenticeship.

The machine she's leaning to use is the Shima Seiki, which translates a design, programmed stitch by stitch, into a whole sweater or pieces of fabric sewn together to make sweaters.

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Brooklyn, New York-based small business, Boerum Apparel, uses the computer-linked machine to knit sweaters with a more consistent quality than it might achieve with humans on traditional knitting machines using a process that requires the knitter to pull yarn through loops of yarn, explained the company's president, Teel Lidow, in an interview with CNBC.

"We want something that's fast and efficient and consistent. We rely heavily on automated processes like fully fashioned knitting machines and whole garment knitting machines to achieve that," Lidow said.

Inside a computer-aided knitting machine used by Boerum Apparel for more efficient garment manufacturing.
Althea Chang | CNBC
Inside a computer-aided knitting machine used by Boerum Apparel for more efficient garment manufacturing.

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Lidow's apparel company as well as the machines he uses are located inside design school Pratt Institute's start-up incubator, the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator.

By having a hand in the garment-making process from growing fibers of fabric to the sweater in a dresser drawer, Boerum Apparel said it can save money and focus on sustainable production.

'We're highly sensitive to the standards of the producers we work with, the animal welfare standards and social standards that they employ," Lidow said.

The two machines, which Boerum Apparel shares with other designers, cost $244,000, according to the company, but that cost was covered by the Borough of Brooklyn.

A crew-neck sweater made by Boerum Apparel costs $150, according to the company's website.