My name is Kate Davies. I live in Edinburgh with Tom (a man) Bruce (a labrador retriever) and Jesus (a cat). I love writing, designing, and walking in our wonderful Scottish landscape. I find that all of these activities have a creative and a critical dimension and the best of possible worlds is one in which I productively combine them all.
Some days I feel like a writer who enjoys designing knitwear, on others I seem to be a designer preoccupied with textile history. On most days I feel like someone who is recovering from a serious stroke, though one hopes that this may change in time. I have written books and feature articles on a wide range of topics from the American Revolution to the history of lace. I combine my interests in writing and knitwear design in my popular 2012 book, Colours of Shetland as well as in my digital magazine Textisles.
I like my choice of materials to have a genuine connection to the landscape in which I live and work, and prefer to use yarns from local producers, processors and distributors in my designs. I particularly enjoy working with British breed-specific yarns. There are some wonderful and much under-appreciated sheep and shepherds about!
My site is archived by the British Library as part of its project to preserve national documentary heritage.
Get in Touch: If you are an editor with a commission or a yarn store with a trade enquiry, please contact me at the following address:
Ask First: My photographs are my property. Do not steal them. Please have the courtesy to ask me for permission before reproducing or distributing the images you see here in any format.
Knitters: There is a Kate Davies group on Ravelry. You can post any queries about my patterns here, or just pop over and say hello!
Tourists: Visiting Scotland? Want to buy some Scottish yarn or find out about our knitting heritage? Here are a few places and vendors that I recommend.
*Buy glorious hand-knitted shawls, tams, and sweaters from an Edinburgh Institution
*Take a walk by the falls of Clyde, learn about Robert Owen, and buy yarn at New Lanark.
*Purchase beautiful hand-dyed yarn from Scotland’s best independent dyers, Helen, Lilith, and Natalie.
*Get on the boat to Islay and discover gorgeous handspun yarns at Tormisdale Croft.
*Head North to Jamieson and Smith, for 100% Real Shetland wool, and don’t miss the inspiring and exceptionally well-curated textile displays of the Shetland Museum.
Want to explore the Highlands but don’t know where to start? I recommend Gordon Anderson, who can tailor-make a superb day walk or short break around your particular interests and requirements.
Publications: some of my publications that you may find of interest:
“Sonia Delaunay and Modernism in Fashion” (Editorial feature, Rowan Magazine, 53)
Colours of Shetland: Ten Signature Designs Inspired by the Shetland Islands (2012)
Shetland Wool Week, 2012 report in 60 North Magazine (Winter, 2012)
Betty Mouat feature in 60 North Magazine (Autumn, 2012)
Edited issue 2 of Textisles, producing 3 original feature articles for this issue: “The Making of Betty Mouat”, “On Parade: A Decade of American Swimwear,” “Swimsuit Revolution.” This issue also includes a feature by Susan Crawford (“The Rise and Fall of the Handknitted Swimsuit”), and an interview with Griseldis Schmitthuber.
“Shining a New Light on Shetland Lace” (reprint of Rowan editorial feature) in 60 North Magazine, issue 2 (Summer 2012).
Introduction to Knit Real Shetland – flagship book of 15 knitting projects celebrating 65 years of Jamieson & Smith.
“Shetland Lace in a New Light”, feature exploring Shetland Lace as an innovatory – rather than ‘traditional’ textile. Rowan Magazine, no.50 (Autumn/ Winter, 2011)
Textisles Issue 1 (July, 2011). Two features exploring the history of English smocks and frocks, plus an interview with Claire Smith.
“Shetland Fine Lace Project” piece publicising this laudable collaboration between Jamieson and Smith yarns, the Shetland Amenity Trust, and the best lace knitters in the world. The Knitter, issue 30, Spring 2011.
“Make do and Mend” (feature examining the history and representation of darning, mending, and ‘plain work’. Rowan Magazine, no. 49 (Spring, 2011)
“Fish Tales” (examining the links between – and myths about – fishing and knitting) The Knitter (Issue 27, Winter 2010)
“A Brief History of British Socks”, The Knitter (Issue 22, Summer 2010)
“Knitting Outdoors” (feature article about the history of outdoor knitting. Rowan Magazine 47 (Spring, 2010).
“Indigo Moods” (feature article about the history, usage, and unique properties of indigo) The Knitter (issue 15, Spring 2010)
“Making Waves with Cables” (feature about the history and future of cable knitting, including information about the aran sweater myth, and interview with Lynne Barr) The Knitter (Issue 13, December 2009)
“The Fabric of Britain” (feature about New Lanark and Cold Harbour Mills) Rowan Magazine 46 (Autumn, 2009)
“Written in the Landscape” (feature about the wool industry in West Yorkshire, including a walk around Heptonstall and Hebden Bridge) The Knitter (Issue 10, September, 2009)
Feature about Jane Gaugain, the Victorian knitting entrepreneur. See also the Jane Gaugain Edinburgh Walk, Twist Collective, Spring 2009. You can also download a map of the walk (if you need it) here.
Feature exploring the history of tweed in the Scottish Borders (Sew Hip, issue 4, 2009) (text of my original edit).
Feature about quilting, slavery, and the underground railroad. from Textile Perspectives 46 (Winter, 2008).(Reproduced with kind permission of the Quilter’s Guild)
Goodbye, Dolly: feature article about the textile / doll art of Tabitha Moses, from Selvedge (March 2008).
Feature about the crochet art of Helle Jorgensen (Yarn Forward, issue 7, 2008)
Photographs only: Jeannette Sloan’s studio (for Yarn Forward, issue 10, 2008).
Note: the headgear is just a midge net. I was going camping.
Photo taken by my friend, The Mule.