post 1: doing the research

Hi! I am Anja. I am a teacher and knitter, and currently enrolled in the TKGA’s Professional Knitwear Designer Certificate Program. Here you can read about my experience on this 3-year course.

When I started looking for a course to give my design work more structure, I was looking for a part-time, flexible, online and affordable handknitting course with a certification.

I quickly learned that “Design” and “Design” are 2 different things – while some courses train for a professional career in Knitwear such as Fashion and Art Colleges or Schools, others call themselves “Knitwear Design Program” but teach fibre arts as a hobby. I found several Knitting Guilds which offer courses, but apart from the TKGA no other English-speaking guild offers a knitwear design course with an official accreditation. I also noticed that many course providers are in the process of reactivating programs which were temporarily put on hold, and others have discontinued courses due to prolonged lockdown.
After looking into about 50 programs, here are the Knitwear Designer courses I found interesting – but there are so many more. Please get in touch if you find a course which can be added here, or if you are currently enrolling in one!

Shirley Paden

Shirley Paden is a New York based, self-taught hand knit designer, author, blogger, crochet designer, publisher, technical editor and owner of the eponymous Shirley Paden Custom Knits label. She worked in the corporate world before she founded her business. She offers “DAL’s” (“Design-A-Long’s”); the first DAL was held in 2010 and the current DAL6 started in January 2022. There are 6 facilitators who are assigned to participants.

She says on her website that “The journey to our first DAL started with the Ravelry group “We Love Shirley Paden” (WLSP) founded by Tracey Rivers in 2008. In conjunction with the release of my book, Knitwear Design Workshop, we decided WLSP would be an ideal setting for the industry’s first Design-A-Long. I wanted the atmosphere to be a cross between that of an intense Design Workshop and a fun Design Camp.  My goal was to walk each student step-by-step through The Design Process in an interactive, online format.”

There are 4 steps to the design process: The “Thought Process”, the “Fabric Selection Process”, the “Planning Process” and the “Construction Process”. The course is free of charge, and all that is needed is her book by your side.


The Woolmark company is a not-for-profit organisation, which operates a “Learning Centre” website with many interesting training programs for students and facilitators free of charge. All that is required is an account sign-up, and the education modules can be accessed. Woolmark does not provide any official accreditation, but the courses are interesting, fun, and many of them are interactive to suit all learning styles.

Central St. Martins

Central Saint Martins Art College and the London College of Fashion offers long term and short term live online and in-person Knitwear Design courses, ranging from £250 for a 1-day course and £725 for a 1-week course, to £360 for a 4-week course at 1.5 hours once per week for one month. Courses are designed for a career in the knitwear industry and participants receive a Certificate upon completion (the 1-day and 1-week course provides a Certificate of Attendance after 80% of attendance). The college offers a large range of related Courses, like Natural Dying (this course takes place at the Natural Dye Garden at LCF’s Mare Street site, with an introduction to the dying plants which are grown there), Sustainable Fabrics, Creating Textile Design and Drawing and Painting for Textile Design.

Melissa Leapman

Melissa Leapman is a freelance knitwear designer with over 1000 designs in print. She offers knitting cruises, is an author and knitting tutor, and offers sweater design courses and the “Professional Development Summit for Designers”, amongst many other specialised skills on her website. The “Development Summit” contains 12 hours of workshops taught by industry experts, and her “Design-A-Gram” sweater design course took place over the course of one day in August of 2021. Fees are published when enrolments start, so prices can currently not be accessed on her website.