Andrew Dahlgren created ADMK after completing the Local Craft Industries Project, a year-long investigation into the current state of domestic and commercial knitting in the region. Andrew completed this project with a vision of a 21st century textile industry built in Philadelphia utilizing cutting edge knitting technology as a key component.
In June 2011 Andrew received a Corzo Center Creative Incubator / Wells Fargo Fellowship to research and develop concrete plans for achieving his long term vision. The funding allowed ADMK the time to reach out to the existing industry and invest in new equipment and training. Along with financial support the Corzo Center provided direct funding to Aaron McLean of Eight Eleven Marketing and Branding to work with Andrew. This collaboration resulted in clear and distinct language and visuals to communicate his vision. Andrew's work with Aaron also led to the creation of a marketing strategy for getting future customers.
As a first step, Andrew began meeting with industry partners - educators, manufacturers, and technology producers - and industry supporters - City of Philadelphia, Manufacturing Alliance of Philadelphia, and Finanta (Philadelphia Finance and Technical Assistance Center) - among others. These meetings produced invaluable information that continued to clarify and support ADMK's next steps.
The technology purchased through the grant allowed ADMK to utilize domestic scale knitting machines as a way to collaborate with local designers. By producing work Andrew gained experience in the development of knitted products. These projects helped define how future knitting mills would have to be outfitted.
In June 2012 Andrew went abroad to study at Stoll - one of the world's leading manufacturers of commercial knitting machines. During the two months of study in Germany, Andrew gained more expertise in the process of designing and creating knitted fabric. The training program utilized both hand operated and computer programmed commercial knitting equipment. Also by studying abroad Andrew connected with other knitwear manufactures and industry partners from Hong Kong, London, New York, and Zurich. These connections helped inform Andrew's view and understanding of developing industries. He heard from other manufacturers about new production models, how to grow a knitwear production business, and what has to be in place to start a knitting mill.
By completing the work the Corzo Center supported ADMK has clearly defined the next steps towards achieving long term goals. ADMK will be launching The Knit Lab - a center for teaching and utilizing knitting technologies - in January 2013. The Knit Lab will offer classes and workshops to educate people on what knitting machines can do, how to develop design ideas, and how to bring ideas to production. The Knit Lab will also offer increased access to knitting technologies by creating membership based programs. The Lab's development will initially utilize domestic scale knitting machines and increase to commercial scale equipment. Along with the Knit Lab ADMK will launch a design house. The design house will create and manage a product line and label allowing ADMK to support new and developing designers. In the Summer of 2013 ADMK will create a Mobile Knit Lab. This will be utilized for a year long project and will travel across Philadelphia as a way to build more interest in the Knit Lab and the long term vision of ADMK.