ODHE Awards Grant for Kent State Fashion KnitLAB

Linda Ohrn-McDaniel, Mourad Krifa, and Noël Palomo-Lovinski are using a new ODHE grant to spread awareness of the possibilities of knitting

You’ve probably seen someone knitting a scarf or a sweater as a hobby. However, knitting is big business and has a large impact on manufacturing. Kent State University School of Fashion professors are using a new $236,816 grant from the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) to spread awareness of the possibilities of knitting and creating training opportunities.

Kent State will use its industrial-grade knitting laboratory to provide Ohio businesses and academia with the opportunity to innovate manufacturing. The initiative has the possibility to expand Ohio business knowledge on apparel manufacturing, automotive industries, industrial design, product design and medical knit applications.

The project is headed by professors in the School of Fashion: Linda Ohrn-McDaniel, Mourad Krifa, Ph.D., and Noël Palomo-Lovinski. 

“We decided to propose the grant because we wanted to see how we can help the state of Ohio to grow and be stronger,” said Ohrn-McDaniel. “We are in the School of Fashion, but the opportunities reach far broader than just fashion.” As an example, basic knit structures can be used to make several items, such as parts of a human heart, airplane wings and satellites.

Knitting can create opportunities for innovation in many areas of life. It could help make fashion more sustainable and bring manufacturers back to the United States. The biggest issue is lack of labor to produce items. However, one person can monitor or use many knit machines at one time thereby reducing the need of a larger workforce.

knit lab stoll machines

“As part of sustainable practice, we need to make sure that there are job conditions that we can monitor, know workers are being treated well and that they have everything we want them to have as if they were in our own backyard,” said Palomo-Lovinski. 

The professors want to use the grant to find out how they can best educate people to become knit programmers and then figure out what needs to be done to facilitate a localized workforce. 

“The idea behind the grant is to kind of explore how we can help companies who have an idea of what they want to knit but don’t have a connection to anyone who knows how to develop a prototype,” said Ohrn-McDaniel. 

Currently, there are many possibilities for growth in the industry, but it’s hard to do, they said. The project aims to utilize the technology at Kent State to make it easier for the industry to grow. 

Knitting Thread

It does not have a specific focus at the moment, because the professors want to make it accessible to a broad audience. They are working with other Kent State units across campus such as the Advanced Material and Liquid Crystal Institute, the College of Nursing and the College of Architecture and Environmental Design.

“We are trying to do some of these interdisciplinary projects to be able to spread and explore as broadly as possible,” said Ohrn-McDaniel.

Kent State is ranked as an R1 research institution by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, which is the highest recognition that doctoral universities can receive, affirming Kent State’s place as an elite research institution.

To learn more about the School of Fashion or the KnitLAB, visit www.kent.edu/fashion and www.kent.edu/fashion/knitlab

Images courtesy: Foundry Co. and Van3ssa ? Zheki ? Dany from Pixabay.

POSTED: Friday, September 2, 2022 10:15 AM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 06:30 PM
Leah Amato