Master of Design

The lovely Shirley

You may not have heard the name Shirley Paden, but if you’re a knitter,  you’ve certainly seen her work in all of the major  knitting publications.  She is a master of design and construction, and her patterns are meticulously written.

I first met Shirley in 2002.  She was teaching a 6-part knitwear design class at a small studio in midtown Manhattan.  Each part of the class was 4 hours.  It was a huge investment of time each Saturday.  I’d been knitting for about 15 years (off and on) at that point, and although I’d always been interested in art and design, I had no formal training.  My expectations were to come away with some tips and tricks to adjust a pattern already written.

Shirley gave me so much more!

My first design

In that first class, I was able to get a grasp of knitwear construction, shaping, design elements, schematics and pattern writing.  She pushed us all to believe that we could actually build a garment from start to finish and document it in such a way that others could replicate it.  She was there to encourage, field lots and lots of questions, correct mistaken thinking and explain and re-explain.  She did this both within the time of our class and outside of class on her own time.  Ambitiously, with Shirley cheerleading me along the way, I designed and knit a knee-length pleated coat with shawl collar in a beautiful stitch pattern.  I finished in those six weeks and it was a wonderful experience.  It gave me the confidence to start designing on my own.

I took other classes with her… Advanced Design & Construction, Finishing, Lace…., and Shirley went on to become a dear friend and mentor.  She’s still pushing, guiding and giving her best advice to me when it comes to design and the knitting industry.   I feel like her presence in my life, both personally and professionally, has been a true blessing.  She’s gone on to teach at many venues, including Vogue Knitting and Interweave’s Knitting Lab and in yarn shops and workshops across the US and in Europe.

So when last year, Craftsy asked Shirley to develop her design course into a “virtual class,” I was thrilled for her.  The good news is that Shirley’s methods and ideas on knitwear design could finally be accessible to anyone, anywhere.

The Craftsy class, called Handknit Garment Design, is 12 lessons long and Shirley will guide you through the entire design process from selecting the right yarn through measurements and swatching.  She’ll then cover the shaping involved in each part of your garment (body, sleeves, neckline).  In the end, you’ll have a beautiful garment designed by YOU.   The wonderful thing about Craftsy is that it allows you the opportunity to watch the videos repeatedly and interact with both the teacher and students in the class.  I highly recommend both the course and the Craftsy platform.

Thanks, Shirley!

Published by

Joan Forgione

Juggler: mother, knitwear designer, teacher

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