'The process of designing my garments begins with dyeing the yarns. I use wool, silk, cotton, hemp and linen, using space- and tie-dyeing to obtain a range of subtle patterns and colours, which are knitted as jumpers, jackets, waistcoats, hats, scarves and cushions.
I use British wool spun for me from Romney Marsh sheep by Diamond Fibres: this is a resilient, strong yarn which takes the colour beautifully, can be handwashed, and keeps its shape.
Having trained in textile design at Farnham Art College and worked first in hand printed textiles, I began designing and making hand knitwear in 1980. My training has formed my approach to knitting as a way of constructing both a fabric and a 3-dimensional shape, exploring what the technique can do to alter the drape, thickness and stretch of the material.
As well as an enjoyment of colour, texture and pattern, I explore shaping through the structure of knitting, designing clothes knitted all in one piece with emphasis on construction. My ideas for textures and colours are sourced from the surrounding countryside, gardens, drawing landscape and visiting museums. Designs for shapes are influenced sometimes by studies of ethnic costume and clothing, but also from discussions with people trying on the garments, and seeing how designs work on different people.
Teaching short courses and with textile groups around the UK and abroad has stimulated more research into technique and history, and inspired further exploration into designing, with three books published on designing for knitting.'
Farnham College of Art Dip AD textiles.
2016 'Soft Engineering, textiles taking shape', with weavers Ann Richards and Deirdre Wood. Touring: -
May, SIT select festival, Stroud; November, NCCD Sleaford, Lincs.
to open in Winchester January 2018
2014 & 2016 'Art Inspired by Gardens', group exhibition, Bury Court Barn, Bentley, near Farnham
2011 Maiwa Textiles Symposium, Vancouver
2009 Jointure Studio, Ditchling, Sussex
2008 Winchester Discovery Centre
2007 solo, Susanne Wolf gallery, Lewes, Sussex
2005 Mall Galleries, London, with Society of Designer Craftsmen
2003 solo at Hitchcock’s Gallery, New Alresford, Hants
2000 High Fibre, Devon Guild of Craftsmen
1999 Knitwear, Design and Innovation, Black Swan Gallery, Frome
1997 Chelsea Crafts Fair
1996 Off the Top of Your Head, Angel Row Gallery
1994 solo exhibition, Bank Gallery, Chobham
1992 Trelissick Gallery, Truro
1990 Cirencester Workshops
1988 Tex-styles, Smiths gallery, London
1986 Knitting, a Common Art, touring Crafts Council exhibition (UK)
1970s-80s: Art college BA textiles teaching
1980 - present: Short courses at West Dean College,
and visiting lecturer/teacher with guilds of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers
2011: lecture and workshops at the Maiwa Textiles Symposium, Vancouver
2015: Alison Ellen 'Knitting, Stitch-led design', Crowood Press
2011: Alison Ellen, 'Knitting, colour, structure and design', Crowood Press
Alison Ellen ‘Handknitting, New Directions’, Crowood Press
1992: Alison Ellen ‘The Handknitter’s Design Book’ David & Charles 2011:
Teaching videos and interview for www.knit1.tv