Kate Davies Designs



Good morning, everyone! It is Friday, which means its time for another pattern for Seven Skeins club members. This week I’ve created another wee project which is brilliant for using up scraps of yarn – its name is Cairngorm.


Strictly speaking, a cairngorm is a piece of smoky quartz from the famous mountain region that forms Britain’s largest national park. More generally in Scotland though, “cairngorm” is a word that refers to any large jewelled brooch serving as a fastening for a plaid, maud, or great kilt. Much beloved by the Victorians, cairngorm brooches usually featured large semi-precious stones—garnets and citrines as well as quartz—in a silver setting that was often richly decorated.


My woolly cairngorm, made up from odds and ends of yarn, recalls its jewelled namesakes in its large size and colourful appearance. The brooch is made by weaving lengths of wool in simple concentric circles, using a method that was popularly used to create small buttons during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. If you possess a button 3 inches or more in diameter this will work to stabilise the brooch, and if not, you will need to cut a disc from a piece of plastic (such as an empty ice cream tub or similar).

As you can see, I’m wearing my cairngorm with a plaid, but it would look equally jolly and decorative on the lapel of a tweed jacket or contemporary winter coat.


Cairngorm’s basic construction follows a weaving method that I’ve used for the buttons that feature on a couple of previous designs (such as the Scatness tam and tunic). I thought it would be interesting to extend the dimensions of these buttons, and experiment with using different shades. The results are striking, but the method is really simple!


I’ve put together a tutorial that illustrates the stages of constructing the brooch.


Because this isn’t knitting, its not listed in Ravelry as a separate pattern. But the tutorial can still be accessed and downloaded from Ravelry via the e-book, the full content of which has been made available today for club members.


So if you fancy making crowdie, or cranachan, or lavender shortbread, from one of Tom’s recipes you can try those out this weekend.


There has unfortunately been a bit of a delay with the book at the printers, so we aren’t able to ship out physical copies just yet. As soon as we have the books in hand we will let you know.


We are hoping for some decent weather so we can get out for a walk. Hope you all have a lovely weekend, however you are spending it!

The goats of Inversnaid

Oftentimes, in the wake of finishing a large project, I am gripped with the urge to knit a hat. While I was waiting for my copies of Colours of Shetland to appear from the printer, I worked away on Snawheid, and similarly last year, in the hiatus between going to print and shipping Yokes, I happily whipped up Epistropheid. This year was no different and, once we’d finished work on the new Buachaille book, the familiar hat urge gripped me once again. I found myself unable to resist, and before I knew it, I had charted a hat and found myself knitting it. The hat featured goats.


Goats? Yes, goats.

(goaty photograph courtesy of Mark Stanley – thank you, Mark!)

In the areas of rough, brushy woodland that connect Loch Lomond, Loch Katrine, and Loch Ard live several herds of feral goats. Much beloved by walkers of the West Highland Way, goat and human paths frequently cross near Inversnaid, which is where I’ve most often come across them. The Inversnaid goats are thought to have the longest pedigree of any Scottish herd, and are associated with one of many legends about King Robert the Bruce. As Bruce fled from his English enemies along the shores of Loch Lomond, he took refuge in a cave near Inversnaid. The goats surrounded the King’s cave, and lay down in front of it, disguising its entrance.The English soldiers paid no attention to the goats, passed by the cave, and Bruce remained safe. In gratitude, Bruce passed a decree, stating that the goats should never be harmed, but despite this their numbers now have to be controlled due to their destructive effects on the surrounding woodland habitat. As you can see from Mark’s photograph above, with their shaggy black coats and long curving horns, the Inversnaid goats are spectacularly beautiful and characterful beasts.

I am very fond of Loch Lomond’s wild goats, and fancied celebrating them in a hat.


As you can see, happy goats chase each other around and around the hat, and amorous goats encircle the crown.


I played with and pared down a few different goat-y motifs until I settled on this one, and was really pleased with the overall effect. One never quite knows how repeated motifs will work until you knit them, and what I like about this one is that it has a graphic simplicity and rhythm that is almost independent of its goat-iness. What I mean is that the fabric of the hat possesses its own overall visual structure – and then you notice there are goats on it.


I was so pleased with the fabric, in fact, that I couldn’t stop at a hat, and whipped up some goat-y gauntlets to match.


The rib and main colours are reversed on hat and gauntlets and together they make a really fun, wintery set.


I knit my goats in Buachaille shades Highland Coo, Between Weathers, and Ptarmigan, and the Scandinavian feel of these accessories is not unintentional – I have been an avid fan of the Gävle goat for several years, and I felt that that the Inversnaid goats might be similarly celebrated. The hat and gauntlets are probably a better idea than my other plan of erecting a massive straw goat at the bottom of the garden. Tom felt that the giant goat would have divided neighbourly opinion.


The Goats of Inversnaid are now available as a single download from Ravelry. Additionally, we had a delivery of Buachaille last week (hurrah!), and, as we are still waiting for the books to arrive, I had some time to prepare a few kits. So if you fancy knitting yourself a goaty hat and gauntlets in Buachaille, I’ve put a few kits up in the shop. The kit contains 3 skeins of Buachaille, a wee project bag, and a PDF download of both patterns. At the moment the kits are just in the shades I’ve knit my set in, but Mel has of course knit herself some goats in a slightly more restrained and classy colourway, and I should be able to make up a few more kits in her choice of shades next Sunday (which will be our regular day for shop updates going forward).


We’ve really enjoyed getting out in this spell of fine weather. Hope you’ve also had a great weekend, everyone! x



We have been out walking along the West Highland Way near Inversnaid today, and I was put in mind of this landscape’s many famous visitors. Because of its fine views and beautiful surroundings, this was a spot much beloved of the Victorians, and particularly of literary travellers to Scotland. William Wordsworth wrote “to a Highland Girl at Inversnaid” following his visit in 1803, but I much prefer the poem written by Gerard Manley Hopkins almost eighty years later. Finding himself on a prolonged stay in Glasgow in August 1881, Hopkins was keen to “see something of the Highlands” but found himself somewhat pressed for time: “I hurried to Loch Lomond,” he wrote in a letter to a friend, “the day was dark, and partly hid the lake, yet it did not altogether disfigure it, but gave a pensive or solemn beauty which left a deep impression on me.” His poem is dated September 28th, 1881:


THIS darksome burn, horseback brown,
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.

A windpuff-bonnet of fáwn-fróth
Turns and twindles over the broth
Of a pool so pitchblack, féll-frówning,
It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.

Degged with dew, dappled with dew
Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,
Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,
And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

print of Loch Lomond, from Inversnaid (1838)



Good morning! Here is today’s pattern release – oobits!

Of all the wonderful Scots words I have used to name my patterns, I think that OOBIT has to be my favourite. Its a word that was new to me, and to which I was introduced by my friend Ivor (whose many talents include an editorial role on the Dictionary of the Scots Language).

Oobit basically means “caterpillar”, and you can see from the dictionary entry that it often appears in combination with the adjective “hairy”. Ivor suggested the name when he saw me making these bracelets a couple of months ago because their stripey and hairy appearance recalls that of fuzzy caterpillars. What I particularly love about the word, though, is the way it combines caterpillar-ness with woolliness: in Shetland, Doric and other mainland dialects, “oo” means “wool” – these bracelets are literally bits of “oo” – or “oo-bits”. “Oobit” also recalls “orbit”, and suggests something circular or revolving. . . .all told, I don’t think there can be a better name for a woolly bracelet!


These oobits are a great way of using up scraps of yarn, and are knitted flat or in the round (there are instructions for both methods). They are then wet-felted, shaped by hand, and dried to create a sturdy bracelet.

Oobits are quick to whip up and make fantastic wee gifts!


I was interested to see how Buachaille felted, and was very pleased with the result. I made several, and found that the key factor was to knit the oobit on a needle 5.5mm or larger to create a lot of space between the stitches. The gaps really help with the felting and shaping process.


This is the sixth, out of seven weeks of club patterns. All being well, the book is due to arrive next week, and will be shipped out to club members shortly after. If we get our skates on we should be able to have the book on general release for everyone in early December.


This week’s other exciting news is that we have found a fantastic space a short drive away in which we will be able to store a whole lot of yarn. We were basically living with the first batch, which was difficult for humans and animals alike . . . our new workshop space will be a much more appropriate home for the tasty skeins which will be arriving in some quantity very shortly. I will keep you posted, but if things go as planned we may well be able to put some Buachaille on general release over the next few weeks! We will make sure everyone is updated via our newsletter, and keep your eye on the shop, which is where the yarn will be available for sale.



Pattern release day is here again, and today Seven Skeins knitters will find some Whigmaleeries appearing in their inbox. What on earth are whigmaleeries? Well, as the Dictionary of the Scots Language puts it, a whigmaleerie is: “a decorative or fanciful object, a piece of ornamentation …a knick-knack, gew-gaw, bauble, fantastic contrivance, or contraption.” In other words, a whigmaleerie is a wee thingumajig, of the kind folk often like to hang on trees at this festive time of year.


As you can see, we made several whigmaleeries, and I think there may be several more in the pipeline as they are just so quick to whip up. . . I used an ovoid shape, familiar from the glass baubles of my childhood, and the mountain-inspired stitch pattern which also features on the Baffies and Pawkies. The whigmaleerie is worked bottom up, stuffed with roving before you reach the top, and finished with a hanging i-cord. They are quite pleasing objects, and I’m particularly pleased with how the mountain stitch pattern works with the four-fold symmetry of the object at top and bottom. Knit one and you’ll see just what I mean!


If you aren’t keen on stranded knitting, a striped version of the pattern is also available. I found the striped whigmaleerie to have a definite egg-like appearance which would make it appropriate for Spring.


But I have to say the stranded whigmaleerie is my favourite due to its unmistakably festive appearance. It just shouts WHIGMALEERIE!


In other news, the book has gone to press! If all goes well at the printers (and these things are never certain) we should be able to start shipping to club members before the end of the month, so all Seven Skeins knitters will receive their copies during the holiday season. The book will go on general sale as soon as the club copies have shipped, so not long to wait now. Did I mention we were very excited about it? Here’s a taste of what’s inside.


So, the book is done, and its definite hunkering weather here. I’m looking forward to a quiet couple of days with some tea and knitting.

Have a lovely weekend! x



Friday is pattern release day, and today I have for you a pair of bunnets.


Bunnet is a colloquial Scots term for a hat. The word bunnet is etymologically related to the English bonnet, and the French bonnet, but while the English term has predominantly feminine associations, the word bunnet is most often used in Scotland in reference to the headgear of an ordinary working man. A flat, cloth cap is what first springs to mind when one thinks of the word bunnet, and like those hats, these are similarly intended as ordinary, workaday headgear. These bunnets are simple hats both to make and wear – but their colourful crowns make them stand out from the crowd.


The striped bunnet pleases me in its simplicity. From the side, it is a classic, slightly slouchy hat, worked up in the lovely silvery-grey of haar (I love all the Buachaille shades, but this is definitely one of my favourites)


But from the back, the bunnet reveals its colourful five-pointed crown, created by centred double decreases (probably my all-time favourite decrease). I love how these decreases lend a crown immediate geometric structure.


The striped bunnet is shown here in a looser, slouchy version, but its stranded companion has a closer, beanie-like fit.


This version features corrugated ribbing, and, using a stranded method for the two-colour crown allows the simple geometry to work slightly differently.


The hat body uses the majority of one skein, but less than a third of a skein of the contrast colour is used. Juggling shade quantities was one of the most tricksy elements of designing this collection, and it was very satisfying to be able to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together in such a way that would allow everyone to be able to make the most of seven skeins of Buachaille!


The bunnets have now been revealed, and that means I can (with considerable excitement) show you the front cover of the book we are now very close to going to press with. (As you can see, I am wearing the striped bunnet and the Kokkeluri mittens in the photo).


I can’t tell you how happy this book makes me! Not only is it my first collection using my own yarn, but it also celebrates many of the other things that make me feel at home, living here, with the West Highlands on my doorstep. Tom has cooked up five delicious recipes, using traditional ingredients and a dash of Scottish culinary history, and our friend Gordon Anderson takes you on a guided walk around the iconic peak of Buachaille Etive Mòr. Tom has completely outdone himself with the photography, and the whole thing is (with book-designer Nic’s inimitable help) looking really rather beautiful. In so many ways it is a book that feels like us, and I hope you don’t my saying that I am very proud of it, and of everyone involved in making it.

Buachaille: At Home in the Highlands will be shipped out to Seven Skeins members early next month, and will be on general public release shortly afterward.

a year in the life of the Milarrochy oak


You may remember that, a little over a year ago, I passed my driving test (woohoo!) This has had a big impact on my life, and particularly on my daily walks with Bruce. Instead of just striking out from my front door, I can now drive a few miles, and explore further on foot. One of my favourite walks over the past year has been the circuit from Milarrochy Bay to Balmaha and back, along the West Highland Way, following the shores of Loch Lomond, starting and ending at this tree. The woodland around Loch Lomond’s south-east shores abounds with wonderful oak trees, which, between the 17th and 19th centuries were managed in a semi-industrial fashion for the production of charcoal and dyestuffs. Sessile and English oaks sit side by side in the woodland, aged by time and weather, their twisted roots and trunks defining the edge of path and shoreline. Being a focal point for the particularly lovely view west across the loch, the spindly specimen at Milarrochy bay is probably one of the most photographed trees in Scotland. I am deeply fond of this tree, and can’t help photographing it too. I love its twisted roots and limbs, its distinctive combination of delicacy and sturdiness, its profound resilience. In all seasons it is utterly beautiful: each time I see it it is different, and yet it is always itself – “still, and still moving” as T.S Eliot put it in East Coker. I’ve taken photos of the tree in all seasons and weathers. All of these photographs were taken with my phone, and I think you can probably tell that I upgraded my old model last February. . . The photograph at the top of this post shows the tree last weekend, and here it is over the course of the preceding year.






April. The first really warm weekend – there was a holiday mood and crowds in shirt-sleeves suddenly appeared lochside.

May 8th

May 21st



August. I have seen this wild-swimming couple out in the Loch several times, and on this beautiful August day, rather wished to join them.




Good morning! Its Friday, which means its time for another release for the Seven Skeins club (any knitters not in the club and otherwise interested in these patterns will be able to access them from January). This week there’s another pair of stranded or striped patterns with which you can make yourself your choice of Pawkies.


Pawkies is one of those brilliantly descriptive Scots words which primarily means mitts or mittens. The word is thought to be a diminutive form of either paw, or poke – or perhaps both, since ones thumb and fingers poke out of them, and they are something to pop on your paws. Pawkie is a word with a variety of other resonances in Scots too, my undoubted favourite of which is the fabulous seventeenth-century phrase jiggery-pawkerie, which is the the origin of the probably more familiar English term jiggery-pokery, meaning trickery. I suppose one might get up to all sorts of jiggery-pawkerie in these pawkies, since they leave one’s fingers free and unrestrained. . .


The basic pawkie design is pretty straightforward – a shaped tube with ribbing at either end and an afterthought thumb. I’ve added instructions for a tubular cast-on which gives a really nice, stable edge at the wrist and which I found particularly pleasing to work. If you’ve never attempted a tubular cast-on, please do give it a try (the finish is so lovely) – but if you aren’t keen on the faff you can always stick to your usual cast-on with no problem.


As previously, I’ve written two variants of the pattern to suit your preference. The stranded pawkies feature a slightly modifified version of the mountain-motif that I used on the Baffies, and I found the chart worked up particularly nicely in Between Weathers and Ptarmigan (blue and white is one of my favourite winter combinations).


One interesting aspect of knitting a few samples of the same essential design is observing the subtle differences in behaviour between striped and stranded knitted fabric. Looking at the two patterns, you may note that the striped and stranded versions have different stitch counts: this is because we found that the inner circumference of a pawkie was significantly reduced when knitted in stranded colourwork.


There’s a real nip in the air today, and it is definitely pawkie weather. Have a lovely weekend, and I hope you enjoy lots of jiggery-pawkerie in your pawkies!


Happy knitting!

Gotiska Fönstret


As you might remember, a major highlight of 2014 for me was visiting Sweden, doing some research on Bohus knitting, and meeting Kerstin Olsson. When I visited Kerstin in her studio, she was kind enough to show me some of her own collection of objects and swatches relating to her time at Bohus Stickning. Among these was a sample for a design of hers called Gotiska Fönstret (Gothic Windows).


This yoke had, Kerstin told me, been cut from a rejected sample which came out too large to be used – a good way of preserving the patterns when they didn’t work out for the Bohus knitters. Kerstin had been inspired to create this beautiful pattern after visiting Venice, and admiring the design and architecture of the Doges Palace.


Among the many beautiful things that Kerstin showed me that day, this particular yoke and its inspiration really blew me away, and stuck in my mind. A few days later, I visited the Bohuslan Museum, where they were selling small number of the kits that Solveig Gustafsson reworked from the original Bohus patterns, now recreated by Pernille of Angoragarnet. As luck would have it, Gotiska Fönstret was among them, and I eagerly snapped it up. Earlier this Summer, I finally found the time to begin knitting it while on holiday in Portugal.

Like the majority of Bohus yokes, this one is written to be worked top down. After a couple of false starts with too-tight and too-loose ribbing, I finally decided on a provisional cast on (which I finished off with i-cord later). The yoke took me 10 days of leisurely knitting, sitting in the sun, and taking my time. It was tremendously enjoyable work.


When one designs things, one becomes a bit obsessed with lining things up . The motifs on this yoke, like many other Bohus designs do not have a neat vertical symmetry – but because the motifs are so wee and the design so involved it simply doesn’t matter. The visual effect of the finished yoke is just stunning – and really made me want to experiment with using lots of teeny tiny motifs, and not worrying so much about symmetry.


When I’d knit the yoke, everything about it blew me away – from the subtle and careful combination of chocolate browns and icy blues to the way the purl stitches define the pattern and lend it textural interest. The yarn was also lovely to work with. I felt when I was making it that creating this yoke seemed a little more than knitting – something like embroidery, and something like painting too. Like many of Kerstin’s designs, this one is full of true artistry and genius!


I made good headway with the rest of the sweater while I was on holiday, but when I came home other things got in its way. I had to design and knit a wedding cardigan and a pair of kilt hose, and then my knitting time became absorbed in designing and making other samples with my lovely new wool.


Finally last week I was able to finish my beautiful Gotiska Fönstret. I am really, really happy to have finally knit a Bohus yoke – and the fact that it is this particular design of Kerstin’s makes it very special to me indeed!


The instructions I received with my kit were in Swedish, and were pretty straightforward for me to follow (with just my wee modicum of Swedish) though I do understand there’s an English translation available with the kits bought directly from Pernille. Sometimes it is very nice to relax and knit something the way someone else has designed it, and perhaps particularly when that someone else is your ultimate knitting hero!


Finishing Kerstin’s beautiful design has, once again, fired up my admiration and enthusiasm for her work and for Bohus knitting, and I’m very much looking forward to reading Viveka Overland’s new book, Bohus Sticking: the Revival (ISBN 978-91-7686-268-1) my copy of which is on its way.

Two new patterns for the Seven Skeins club

Today I’ve released a pair of patterns for Seven Skeins Club members – both rather different from each other.

Kokkeluri is above, and Cochal is below.


Cochal is a Scottish Gaelic word for hood, and this simple to knit accessory can easily be pulled up, hood-like, to keep the cold off your neck and ears when you are out in the hills. Cochal’s straightforward design and dimensions are loosely based on the (usually synthetic) ‘buffs’ often used by hikers, runners, and other outdoor folk. The striking slipped-stitch pattern is very simple indeed. It can be worked by any beginner knitter – someone with no colourwork experience at all. Mel and I knit several, in a few different colour schemes – which yielded quite different effects!


Cochal is a simple and flexible design, which can be adjusted in length – yarn quantities permitting! If you wish to make the most of your skeins, the pattern includes instructions on how to weigh your yarn so you can estimate with some accuracy how many of the pattern ‘cells’ you will be able to complete. Make your cochal shorter, or longer, just as you wish!


Cochal is a fun and speedy and fun knit, with a dramatic result that belies its simplicity.


Its also brilliant for keeping the autumn wind out of your ears!


Cochal is worked at 20 stitches to 4 inches – a gauge which allows Buachaille to drape and stretch, but also produces a squooshy, cooshy fabric. At the other end of the gauge spectrum is this week’s second design – Kokkeluri – which is worked at 30 stitches to 4 inches. At this gauge, Buachaille produces a dense, robust fabric which is ideally suited to mittens.


Kokkeluri, or muckle (big) kokkeluri are Shetland dialect terms for the ox-eye daisy – a familiar wayside sight all over Scotland in Spring and Summer. On the mainland, the word is sometimes rendered differently – cockaloorie – and is a generic term for any big, blousy flower.


While the hand-side is decorative, the palm-side is functional. The densely stranded herringbone pattern is hard-wearing and super-cosy, meaning the mittens are sure to keep your hands warm as the winter temperatures fall.


Kokkeluri features a few different techniques, including i-cord and vikkel braids – all of which are described in the pattern.


These mittens are one of my very favourite things I’ve knitted so far with Buachaille, and I’m already looking forward to the cooler temperatures in which they will come into their own!


These patterns are rather different from each other, and I paired them up this week for a number of reasons. One is reasonably advanced, while the other is super-simple, meaning that all club knitters, whatever their experience, can participate in making this week’s designs. Another reason for pairing them is that both are relatively yarn-hungry, and are likely to consume the majority of two skeins. If you are a member of the club, I recommend you choose one of these patterns to knit now, and save the other till later. If any of the designs which appear in subsequent weeks don’t suit your taste, you can always make your second choice, yarn permitting. I think Cochal would look particularly nice with multiple shades used for the cells, and am really looking forward to seeing what everyone does with these patterns!

If you are a club member you should by now have received your weekly email, and to access your patterns, simply click the ‘update’ button that appears next to the Buachaille e-book in your Ravelry library.

Pop over to the Ravelry group to share your progress, and don’t forget to use the hashtags #Sevenskeinsclub and #Buachaille to show us your projects.

Happy knitting, everyone xx