B o r e a l

We had a lovely day out in the Highlands today. Bruce loves a good walk up there – though, as you can see, he is not a fan of sitting still and posing for a photo.

Would you like to see what I’ve got on underneath that jacket?

Boreal — my new design!

Two years ago, just before Christmas, we were out walking on the same West Highland hillside. I spent several happy hours tramping through the snow, photographing trees and undergrowth, and marveling at their transformation in the frozen landscape. You can see those photographs in this post. I was particularly transfixed by the effects of snow on the branches of fallen trees . . .

. . . and I decided then that I’d like to knit something inspired by those West-Highland conifers and their snow-covered branches. Two years later, this is the result.

Boreal is knit in Artesano Aran, a well-spun, hard-wearing 50/50 wool-alpaca blend. It is one of my favourite aran-weight yarns, and is superb for Winter colourwork, as it makes a lovely dense, warm fabric. I knit this dress from it a couple of years ago, which is still going strong, and still looks great. There’s a good range of Wintery colours, so it was an ideal choice for this sweater.

Boreal is knit from the bottom-up, and uses a modified seamless yoke construction.

The sizing covers a 32″ to a 50″ bust. I’m wearing my sweater with a couple of woolly layers underneath, and about 2.5″ positive ease. It is really warm, exceptionally cosy, and quite possibly ludicrously seasonal.

It makes me feel jolly, anyway.

I’ve spent over a month working away on this sweater and its pattern, and I confess to being very pleased with the finished result in both knitted and written form. The pattern has been tech edited by the brilliant Jen-Arnall Culliford, and test knitted by the equally brilliant Melanie Ireland. I hope to show you some photos of Mel’s rather different Boreal sweater very soon! Anyway, if you’d like to make your own, the pattern is now available here or here.

It was so nice to be out in the hills today – I do love a good Winter walk. We had a grand one, and our day concluded with some suitable refreshment from what has to be one of the best places to buy beer in Scotland.


73 thoughts on “B o r e a l

  1. what a gorgeous design-as usual, I wish my knitting was up to your designing. Would love to pop over and share a beer and a stroll with you

  2. I love your latest design. I do wish you would have saved this and the marvelous Funchal moebius pattern until after I’d finished all my holiday gift knitting. But perhaps I should see these as spurs to finish the gifts more quickly, rather than as small torture. Hmm. Perhaps your amazing designs are in fact signs that I should stop making gifts and knit solely for myself. Foolish me for not heeding the first sign of the moebius. Fear not, I shall listen now to the siren call of the Boreal. “Christmas in July” will be fine for family & friends. I need a new jumper.

  3. Gorgeous. I am not much of a sweater knitter but may buy this and use the design to make a wonderful cowl. Lovely work you ate truly a wonder. :-). Hiya Bruce!! Woof woof.

  4. Beautiful! This past summer I sent much of my accumulated sheep fleeces off to a small mill for spinning because I knew I wold not have time to spin it all. I’m thinking some of that yarn would work very well in your new pattern!

  5. It’s beautiful! I’ve been looking for a bottem-up knit, for a nice change after to much sewing-in of separate pieces. I love the colours, and I’m confused: Not usually into ‘seasonal’ sweaters, but it just does make me so very happy. :)

    Also, Bruce does make a pretty model, whether he likes it or not.

  6. My husband and I tramped about Scotland for a vacation, stayed at youth hostels and B&B’s, spent a day and a night on the Isle of Skye, rode trains, climbed Ben Nevis, and generally had a thoroughly wonderful time. I love reading your blog and enjoy all your photos. I always get nostalgic. You are an amazing designer. How you look at those pretty snow-covered branches and your brain produces such a striking sweater is mind-blowing. God has truly blessed you with rare talent. Keep up the beautiful work.

  7. I’m not sure if the sweater is distracting me from the scenery or the scenery is distracting me from the sweater, but I keep scrolling over and over! 100% stunning!

  8. Beautiful! You did a lovely job on this. I hope that someday I can create something so fabulous. I recently stumbled upon your blog and read your story. I will add you to my prayers for a continued recovery and so look forward to many more lovelies from you.

  9. How lovely it is to see you strolling down that path with Bruce. No leg brace, no stick just taking a walk in the hills. How far you have come Kate.
    Lovely jumper too.

  10. Hi!

    first of all sorry for my english!
    Two summers ago me and my husband spend some time in Highlands, and was wonderfull, I can undersand why you enjoy on this mountains, in your blog I find some references to me: mountains (I’m geologist), knit (I’m a kniiter from 10 years ago) and, beer, of course.

    Is the first time I writte in your blog, but seeing your picks I remember this land and this so polite people, thanks to keep all this to my memory again :)


  11. Beautiful! And Artesano Aran is one of my favourite yarns ever. Lovely to wear, and more importantly a joy to knit with. I just finished knitting a coworker a hat in it for Secret Santa actually.

    1. I think I recognise the skirt from past Cabbages & Roses lookbooks!

      The jumper is gorgeous. I found your blog last week, and been slowly working my way through the archives – and it’s really making me want to pick up the needles again and learn some more complicated stuff. :D

  12. Wow, what a beautiful design! I really love it. Can’t wait to knit this sweater.. But first I must learch to knit in two colours…
    Greatings from Germany,


  13. Another Kate Davies Knitting DESIGN TRIUMPH! I love the festivity of the design, and your wonderful description of the whole process of creating the sweater. It’s really inspiring to see the photographs which inspired the design, and I love the fact that the garment you have made is now perfectly suited to the purpose of taking the wintry walks in the Highlands which inspired its creation. Very META. HUZZAH!

  14. Your jumper is stunningly gorgeous and it looks wonderful on you. You really are a fantastically talented knitter / pattern designer. I agree with Paula, it would be just the ticket for Sarah Lund to wear.

  15. I am very tempted to tweak this to make for my ten year old daughter. Especially given that it bears the name of a character from one of her favourite series of books – Philip Pullman’s ‘Northern Lights’. However I have sworn not to make her anything else at the moment given that, given the choice, she will always wear something disposable from Primark or M and S rather than something crafted by her mum. What will the teenage years be like?

  16. Just amazing ! I love Winter too (in Austria, it would be a shame to not like him !) but I just can’t transpose my feelings in knitting ! Thank you so much !

  17. Love Boreal, and the dress you made two years ago. I would be tempted to cast on for a sweater version of that dress today. (If I had the yarn. Time would not be an impediment, a sweater like that is worth missing sleep over.)

  18. My heart always leaps a wee bit when I see on my feed that you’ve posted but when its a new pattern it almost races then, I see it and know my queue has grown again!

    What a wonderful wintery knit!

  19. I can’t wait to cast-on! I love the new pattern! A side note: I’m always extremely envious of the scenery you’re surrounded by! It leaves me longing to retreat from the city!

  20. That is, to quote Craig Revel Horwood, Fab-U-Lous! Love it. I’m already envisioning a wee one for my niece (purely on the grounds that I don’t quite have enough suitable yarn on hand to make one for myself yet).

  21. Beautiful sweater but I am even more taken by Cold Snap. Any chance you and your clever tech editor could figure out a way to release that pattern to all of us who truly love knitted dresses and skirts?

  22. Good grief – Artesano is available at only ONE location in the whole US, and they don’t (yet?) have it in black either. I do so want to see this design in black and off-white. Thanks so much for bringing it to us – the photo of snow and branches that inspired it is one of my favorites. I’m glad to revisit Cold Snap as well and add my vote for a published pattern of it, but if you don’t want the hassle of converting that custom-fitted beauty into a wide size range, I don’t blame you!

  23. i love the photo with the snow caught in the branches. what country are you writing from? i’m from south africa and the thought of jerseys (beautiful) like yours makes me sweat at this time of year. i like the paradox. such a nice post

  24. This is the first sweater design I’ve been truly EXCITED about in a long time! It’s so unique yet wonderfully wearable. Thank you so much for sharing the pattern! I can’t wait until my holiday knitting is finished so I can start my Boreal sweater!

  25. i just went to an “ugly christmas sweater” party this past weekend and was asked if i would ever knit my own. i said i only would if it was a classic, woolen jumper featuring reindeer or snowflakes or some other beautiful nordic print in beautiful colors. your sweater is along the lines of what i had in my head, only about 20 times more beautiful!

  26. Such a beatiful cheery sweater – so Scandinavian and very cute. I can see myself knitting this for my daughter actually…. What I want to know is when will you be publishing a whole book of your designs? Your patterns are way better than so many commercially established designers. I wonder if that pub sells Black Isle Brewery porter? I miss those ales…. x

  27. Congratulations on another great pattern. This sweater is just gorgeous. The pictures are beautiful and inspiring. I really do feel I have to knit this sweater ;)

  28. What a gorgeous sweater! I’m always amazed to see what you come up with – especially as the most I can knit is a tension square or maybe, if I really work hard, a scarf…. You may remember I had a subarachnoid haemorrhage in Feb last year – well, I have set up a “Different Strokes” support/exercise group and we have started training with an ARNI instructor. You have done amazingly well and probably don’t need this, but here is a link to the book that Tom, the founder of ARNI, has finally had published, just in case. http://successfulstrokesurvivor.com/ Take care and Merry Christmas.

  29. So beautiful! Bravo! Thank you. You continue to inspire in so many ways. It’s such a joy to be a part of this vast community that you have gathered around you, Kate. Truly an honor.

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About Kate Davies

writer, designer and creator of Buachaille (100% Scottish wool)