Handknitting stitches for shaping and design with Alison Ellen

Ref: S3D32329

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About this course

An opportunity for hand knitters to play with different stitches to gain a greater freedom and explore the potential for how they alter the fabric. Alison's approach will enable you to consider knitting as a contstructive textile technique and make your own designs shaped by stitches.

Course Description

How do you begin to make your own designs? You may be a competent hand knitter, accustomed to following knitting patterns with skillful knitting, although this experience does not always encourage creative thinking. Alison’s workshop sets out with a fresh approach, looking at knitting as a constructive textile technique with enormous freedom and potential. She will encourage you to gain confidence by experimenting and seeing how stitches work.

Expect to begin with some simple set exercises exploring and comparing stitches, and also look at how knitting in different directions can not only add interest but also create seamless designs. These can be shaped by use of different stitches, always searching for the simplest way and seeing what the stitches will do to help! The course will encourage you to think creatively and develop your own ideas.

Different stitches in knitting produce different textures and patterns, but they also affect the way the fabric pulls up, pulls in, makes it thicker or thinner, and are therefore a great design tool for shaping your designs from within the knitting.

Beginning by exploring basic textured stitches, knit and purl, you will also look at how bias knitting, cables and cross-over stitches and different methods of colour knitting also alter the fabric. This includes slip-stitches (which use one colour at a time), and Fair Isle knitting. Alison will also discuss how to make very simply-designed clothing without seams, shaped by stitches. Different stitches can also be used to shape modular (domino) knitting, which is usually seen in garter stitch and entrelac stitch (usually stocking stitch), so even these ways of knitting in building blocks can be shaped to make more fitted garments.

You don’t need experience in how to make every stitch, as less well-known stitches and techniques will be taught on the course. The aim is to spend valuable time learning any new techniques and stitches, exploring how different combinations of stitches can change the knitted fabric, and increasing awareness of understanding knitted stitches. You will then be able to apply this knowledge creatively.

You may want to begin a design project during the course, or spend all the time experimenting and leave with a collection of sample pieces and confidence to apply these to your designs after the course.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • Knitting needles and crochet hooks to borrow from the tutor.

What students need to bring

  • You will need a notebook, knitting yarn to knit samples (not textured yarn, as this hides the stitches!) and knitting needles to match the thickness of your yarns.
  • Crochet hooks, double-ended needles and circular needles would all be useful; bring what you have, and some can be borrowed from the tutor.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Notebooks, pens, scissors, etc.
  • Available from tutor:
  • The tutor will bring a range of her own (hand dyed) yarns for sampling, for which there will be a small charge of £4 if you use these (you can pay by cash or card).

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

Courses of interest

Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.