Happy anniversary to one of my favorites!

Timeless Fair Isle
by Shirley Paden

A note from Kathleen: It's been five years since the book Knitwear Design Workshop was published and became an instant classic knitting resource. Author Shirley Paden is here to talk about her adventures with Knitwear Design Workshop!
A Journey of Creativity

Time flies when you’re having fun! Truly accurate words for describing my journey from the 2010 launch of my design reference book Knitwear Design Workshop (KDW) to the present.

This celebration video is a happy look back at all the ground covered, including the many wonderful and exciting events and travels, during that five-year period.

A few years ago when teaching my six-week design class, I observed a sense of empowerment with each student as they journeyed through the design process and found their creative voice. The enthusiasm and excitement experienced during each class created an atmosphere where every student seemed to discover hidden depths of creativity.

There was a bonding and selfless sharing of knowledge as everyone created their individual designs while the class took the overall design journey together. Based on this rewarding classroom experience, the key endeavor of KDW was to extend the successes and empowerment of that original design class to the entire knitting public.


I have had non-stop worldwide communications from both beginning and experienced knitters and designers expressing gratitude for the help they have received from KDW. Their reasons for using the book are diverse, but generally include one of the following: 1) designing from scratch 2) altering parts of garments on a commercial pattern, or 3) providing the confidence to use a substitute yarn for a commercial pattern.

As a solid design reference, KDW can be helpful in many ways. It can be used as a step-by-step guide through the design process in its entirety, or to focus on the specific area that you are working on. No matter how you choose to use it, I recommend that you begin by reading chapters 1 through 3. These chapters will walk you through all the basic concepts  of the design profile outline, fabric selection (stitch patterns, etc.), and the planning process of the garment you're going to design.

Teaching still remains my passion and I have had the opportunity to crisscross the United States, travel to Europe, England, and Canada teaching my one- and two-day Design Master Classes using KDW as the class textbook. Each class is planned in advance, so every student arrives having completed the first two steps of the design process: the thought process and the fabric selection process.

In February 2013, I began teaching KDW’s companion online class (12 lessons): Handknit Garment Design. I hoped it would afford knitters who could not attend my master classes an opportunity to experience that part of KDW as well. To date, 6,500 students have taken this class!

Knitwear Design Workshop inspired me to hold Design-A-Longs (DALs) with the We Love Shirley Paden group on Ravelry. These have been the most exciting events and the closest to my original design class experience. DALs are approximately six months in duration with an assigned theme, such as lace, cables, or color. Students are shown stitch patterns that I have used in past designs, and then they select a stitch pattern and create their own garment design.

We walk step-by-step through he design process as a group. My interaction with each of them during the planning process is one-on-one. Their interaction with each other on the Ravelry forum is constant. During the DALs everyone involved becomes part of a true creative family. They are constantly encouraged to journey deep into their creativity and the results have been phenomenal!

Our fourth DAL ended a few weeks ago; the pattern theme was Stranded Color Knitting. Here are some of the fabulous finished designs:

Clockwise from top left: Keiko Kikuno, Trudie Joseph, Ayano Tanaka,
Ellen Silva, Patti Neuman, and Diane Martin

Yes, these past five years have cruised by at a rapid pace. However, I can’t think of a better way to have spent them—walking so many knitters through the design process and watching them journey into creative independence.

Get your copy of Knitwear Design Workshop (available as paperback book or an eBook) and embark on your design journey.

Looking forward to designing together though the next five years!



P.S. What has been your biggest design challenge, and how did you overcome it? Leave a comment below and share your story.

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