Kate Davies Designs

all go

Well – we shipped all the Seven Skeins Club packages, and they are now starting to arrive all over the world. Parcels of yarn were landing in Denmark and Germany by the middle of last week, and there were sightings yesterday in Illinois and Texas. If you are waiting for a package yours should not be far behind.

Friends in my Ravelry group have set up this fantastic map through which its been exciting to track the parcels. As and when your Seven Skeins package arrives (or if it has already done so), please do feel free to add your pin to the map so we can see you! And if you aren’t already part of my Ravelry group, there is a thread set up especially for Seven Skeins Club chat, and there will be further threads for discussion of the patterns, when they start to appear, so please pop along there and join your knitting comrades. Its been so lovely to see photos of the yarn arriving, and hear your reactions (I am especially pleased you are enjoying Buachaille’s colours, and its sheepiness)!

If you are a Seven Skeins club member, some preliminary welcome information will go out to you on Tuesday, 13th October . This information will be delivered by email, to the email address associated with your order, and will be sent using MailChimp. Please double check your inbox settings, as well as any “promotions” or spam folders (in case the message is fired off there) and if you haven’t received your message by Thursday, please get in touch with us (infoATkatedaviesdesigns.com) so we can iron out any glitches. The first pattern will be delivered on Friday, 16th October, and then you can really start to enjoy your yarn!

As we are in the final stages of pattern / book preparation, things are incredibly busy here, as you might imagine, and any photographs I have are of things I cannot yet show you. But I will leave you with a wee video clip that friends of Bruce will enjoy. On the morning of our wedding, Tom and I went for a walk around the woods and beaches near Port Ellen with Bruce. In the woods we found a buoy hanging from a tree – an object which Bruce found extremely exciting. The quality of the video is a bit rubbish, as it was taken with my phone, but it still makes me laugh every time I see it. I think he would have happily played with that buoy all day.

a handmade wedding


Thankyou, all of you, for your lovely comments and congratulations!
I thought you might appreciate hearing a little more about the handmade elements of our wedding.

A few years ago, Tom decided to have a kilt made. His surname is Barr, and the tartan of that name is also associated with a popular Scottish soft-drinks brand. Now, Tom likes Irn Bru as much as the next man, but he does not look so great in orange, and all tartans are invented traditions anyway…so Tom invented his own tradition, picking a tartan that he liked, and which was associated with a place that was very special to both of us – Finlaggan on the Isle of Islay. Finlaggan was once the power base of the MacDonalds, and the tartan Tom chose is MacDonald of the Isles. We never imagined then that one day we should be married at Finlaggan!


I knit Tom’s kilt hose, from our new wool (of which more soon). The yarn is sport weight, and I worked the hose at a relatively tight gauge, and bottom up, which not only suited the heart-shaped cable we chose, but also meant Tom could try them on as I knitted.


This meant that I could double-check the calf shaping and length as I went, which I found very reassuring! The hose fit really well.


Tom finished off his hose with the true highland flourish of a sgian dubh, which he borrowed from our lovely next door neighbours, Niall and Mairi.


Bruce had to look his best as well, so he wore a collar in the same tartan.


Bruce’s collar was made for us by Jan at Scottesque, who of course also designed and made my kilt (the purpose of this visit, back in May). I wanted my kilt long and dramatic, and Jan did a brilliant job, poofing out the bias-cut pieces with tulle and a taffeta underskirt.


I am wearing a cardigan of my own design . . .


. . . which features the same heart-shaped cable as Tom’s hose.


The brooch I am wearing is an incredibly beautiful cairngorm – a family heirloom again kindly lent to us by Mairi. Cables and brooch together really were a perfect match!


I also made my head piece – from a plastic headband and a beautiful piece of beaded trim I found on eBay. . .


. . . and had lots of fun fashioning myself a bouquet of buttons.


If you google “button bouquet” you can see how simple a process this is – you just need some floristry wire, a few bits of ribbon and trim, and a shed load of buttons.


My top-tip is to use felt or lace flowers to create a wee button “sandwich” – the felt bits mean you can create more blooms with less buttons, and that the individual blooms themselves prove a little less heavy.


One thing I loved about making my bouquet was that I could include buttons from my grandma, and my mum, or that were originally gifts to me from friends. Felix, Anne, Lara, and Nic – your buttons were all in my bouquet!


Tom made our wedding cake.


He used a Mary Berry recipe (which has now overtaken Jane Grigson as his favourite fruit cake), fed it liberally with sherry, and decorated it himself.


I can confirm that it is a cake as delicious as it is lovely!


The fair-isle bunting with which we decked out our van was not hand-made – I bought it in Shetland – but it certainly did the job of creating a jolly and very knitterly wedding-wagon! I drove us to and from our wedding (Tom having had a beer beforehand) and very much enjoyed pootling down the Islay roads, listening to Ella and Louis, and waving at everyone we met. Later on, in the Port Charlotte hotel, I was recognised as “that bride driving a camper van”, an appellation which made me oddly happy.

Finally, I have to mention the outfits of our well-dressed best couple. Gordon looks very fine in his Anderson kilt, and a pair of John Anderson kilt hose, knitted for him by Mel. Mel is wearing a Scottesque midi-kilt in the “Highland granite” tartan. She also made herself a lovely lace-weight top, by adapting Gudrun’s beautiful Laar cardigan pattern into a jumper.


Our wedding was small and intimate, and both of us very much enjoyed being able to make it a deeply personal occasion infused with our own meanings, and to focus on a few details which made it really feel like us. That said, I’m not sure I’d recommend the somewhat pressurised activity of designing and knitting a cardigan and a pair of kilt hose to a tight and somewhat important deadline . . .



Our wedding at Finlaggan


We had a wonderful day.


We walked across the fields and over the causeway to Eilean Mor


Lucy played “Ho Ro, My Nut Brown Maiden”


Mel read this short piece by Yeats:

Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.


We made our vows, exchanged our rings, and were married here.
The ceremony was solemn and joyful and deeply moving.


Bruce looked on.


We toasted each other from a quaich given to us by my parents, with a Gaelic blessing.


Mìle fàilte dhuit le d’bhréid,
Fad do ré gun robh thu slàn.
Móran làithean dhuit is sìth,
Le d’mhaitheas is le d’nì bhi fàs.

(A thousand welcomes to you with your marriage kerchief,
may you be healthy all your days.
May you be blessed with long life and peace,
may you grow old with goodness and with riches.)


We are very happy


Thankyou, Mel and Gordon, for sharing our day with us.
Thankyou, Lynn and everyone at the Finlaggan trust for allowing us to marry in this wonderful spot.
Thankyou, Lucy, for piping so beautifully.
Thankyou Sharon, for being such a warm and wonderful registrar. We couldn’t have asked for anyone better to celebrate our marriage.
Thankyou, Isle of Islay. Our favourite place.
Thankyou, all of you, for being there with us in spirit.


Love from Kate and Tom (and Bruce, of course) x

at Sue and Wal’s


Hiya! It is I, Bruce. I am here to tell you about my holiday. Sometimes, when Kate and Tom go away, I get to spend time with Sue and Wal. Sue and Wal are Kate’s mum and dad and they are also my second favourite humans. Sue and Wal have a wonderful garden full of many fascinating nooks and crannies and an abundance of new smells. Being in Sue and Wal’s garden means that I get to do many things that I do not get to do at home . . .


. . . such as relaxing with Sue in her garden pod . . .


. . . wreaking merry havok with this interesting collection of gardening GLOVES . . .


. . . and happily chewing up STICKS until I am sick.

Without doubt, the best thing about staying here in Rochdale is going for walks with my friend Wal. Together we have walked along many lanes, up many hills, and along many canal paths. These are the same lanes and hills and paths that Kate walked along as a girl, and I have a lot of fun with Wal exploring these interesting places. The best holiday place of all, however, is the place called Springfield Park. At this place there is a lot of green grass, large expanses of water, and many, many flowers. Strangely, though, these grasses and water and flowers are not the same as they are in the places in which I walk and run at home. Wal informed me before entering this place that here these things are in a “park” and that they are “cultivated.” At the time I did not understand the full nuances of these words, but I now think that these words mean that the flowers are not to be jumped through, and the water is not to be jumped in. These words also apparently suggest that one must not run amok among happy picnickers, leap towards a group of fleeing ducks, nor seek to hunt down elusive SANDWICHES, hidden from view in their sneaky plastic boxes. I enjoyed my time in Springfield Park immensely, but for some reason Wal did not seem to enjoy himself quite as much as I did. Most unaccountably – especially given the exciting nature of the place – we never visited Springfield Park again.


While I was enjoying myself in Rochdale on my holiday, Kate and Tom were spending time in somewhere called Portugal, where there is sun and swimming. Well, it may be sunny in Portugal but does it have GLOVES or STICKS? Is Portugal the place of parks and sandwiches? Is there a large garden to play in all day and two humans who love to laugh at your antics? I think not. Don’t tell Kate and Tom but I know I got the best deal.

See you soon, love Bruce xxx

you say “potato” . . .


Hiya! It is I, Bruce. Today I am here to tell you about a delicious and intriguing object: the POTATO.


Also known as “tattie” or “spud”, and, often (for some mystifying reason) prefixed with the adjective “humble”, the POTATO is one of my all-time favourite foods. Together with other wondrous food-objects (for example, CHICKEN, SAUSAGES and HAM), POTATOES are sadly not something I am able to consume on a daily basis. I find this extremely disappointing. Instead of a tasty varied diet of tubers cooked in several different ways (roast POTATOES being a particular delicacy), twice a day I am offered what in this house is designated dog food, viz, a sort of arid, brown space-biscuit. Though I am told the space-biscuits provide me with fully-balanced canine nutrition, I find them frustrating in many respects. . . perhaps particularly the miniscule amounts in which they are dispensed. I have frequently tried to suggest to Kate and Tom that POTATOES would be much preferred to space biscuits by this hungry labrador, but as they are foolish humans, who do not speak DOG, they fail to understand my chagrin. But here is a top-tip, dog friends: if you too exist on a bland space-biscuit diet, you may be able to supplement it with the delicious food your humans prepare for themselves by presenting them with the face known as “GIVE ME A POTATO”.


Sometimes the GIVE ME A POTATO face is literally all that is required to make a POTATO materialise. How well I remember the day I made this face at our next door neighbour, Mairi, and was rewarded with two entire baked POTATOES. How delicious! How fluffy! How utterly POTATOE-Y those POTATOES were! This event was truly the stuff of canine dreams – indeed every time I’ve encountered Mairi since, I’ve presented her with the expectant face of one who anticipates its recurrence. But I digress.


If, after making the GIVE ME A POTATO face you get lucky, and a POTATO actually appears, you may find yourself having to work for your reward. Humans refer to such matters as training, and your successful response to their commands is a simple way of compounding their mistaken belief that they have the upper hand. We dogs know better. And let me tell you, friends, that while some foolish canines regard such tricks as demeaning, there is nothing at all demeaning in the tasty joy of a POTATO. My philosophy is: if you want the POTATO, you’ve got to throw the shapes.


And while I am on the subject, it is worth bearing in mind that cooked POTATOES are always to be preferred to those that come straight out of the ground, or sit in the bathroom performing the mysterious process known as “chitting.” I myself have little idea what this “chitting” involves, but I do know that at this time of year the bathroom becomes a sort of POTATO nursery, a space in which I show much interest but out of which I am frequently shooed. Kate spends a lot of time in the POTATO nursery, and it has to be said that in spring she seems, if possible, even more excited about POTATOES than I: continually fussing and muttering about the correct timing of “getting the POTATOES in”. But the fussing seems to pay off, as by late Summer we find ourselves with a glut of tubers, and as she often reminds me, the best POTATOES are those that are home grown.


Well, enough chit-chat, already. May I eat my POTATO now, please?

See you soon, love Bruce xx

Kate adds: there is indeed much potato anticipation here as my spring planting has been held up by shed-construction and associated landscaping. Hopefully the work will be completed soon and I can get the potatoes out of the bathroom and into the ground!

March 3rd


A snow day


Time for a walk . . .


on the West Highland Way!


Guess the name of my hat

Good morning! This week I have news other than logistical matters from Yokes dispatch central (though I’ll return to these things in a moment). For example, we had our first snowfall . . .


I do find that snow affords me a welcome shift in perspective on the winter months. The world of relentless grey becomes pleasingly crisp and white, and there is nothing like a good walk in the snow on a still, bright December day. Bruce is also very fond of snow


. . so we have both enjoyed some decent walks this week. I’m also pleased to say that I finally found the time (and wherewithal) to do some knitting. I confess my knitting mojo has been somewhat lacking of late. This is always a slightly troubling state of affairs, but in this case I’ve just put it down to being very busy and rather tired – a little too tired for getting excited about new projects or thinking about charts and stitch counts. But this week I took a wee break, and over a couple of afternoons I charted and knitted up another lopi yoke (so speedy! so warm! I’ll show you soon!) Then yesterday I whipped up a hat that’s been brewing in the back of my mind for some time.


This hat is based on my Epistrophy yoke, and the first person to correctly guess the name I’ve given to it will win a special prize! (I’m serious! Leave a comment! Give it a try!).


Like the yoke, the hat is knitted in Toft Ulysses DK, and, as pleased as I am with the crown design, I suspect one of these fluffy alpaca pompoms will be being popped on top once its finished drying on the hat block.


As these hastily snapped images of my workstation might suggest, it has been another busy week here at the logistics coalface, and I’ve spent the majority of my time processing and packing and shipping orders. In all respects, I’ve found the response to Yokes pretty overwhelming. It has made me really happy to hear of the book appearing in different locations around the world, and especially to read everyone’s kind reactions, which makes all the hard work this year worthwhile. Thankyou, everyone!

But soon I am going to take a proper break, so if you would like me to post you a copy of Yokes, please place your order in the shop before December 19th. Orders placed after this date will be shipped on January 6th.

The rest of today involves eating a pheasant and decorating a tree. I hope you are all enjoying your weekend too.

Don’t forget! Leave a comment and guess the name of my hat!

ETA – comments are now closed

I’ve got a lab in Kalamazoo


Hiya! It is I, Bruce. Things have been a little strange and discombobulating around here recently. First a mountain of books and cardboard appeared, and suddenly Kate and Tom were completely preoccupied with foraging in this mountain. Then my friends Mel, Gordon, and Ivor came to visit, but unusually they were not interested in playing with me or with BALL but seemed to much prefer stuffing books in envelopes and generating curious noises from the mysterious beast known as Franking Machine. This has gone on for some time now, and while Kate messes around with all the books and envelopes she amuses herself by singing many songs. These songs generally concern the places to which the books are traveling. When an order comes in from Kalamazoo, Michigan, she loudly strikes up “I’ve got a gal in Kalamazoo” and I have also spent many hours listening to her howling “Take me back to Louisville, KY” and wailing along to “The Chattanooga Choo Choo”. Despite the (ahem) singular quality of Kate’s voice, these songs are actually rather jolly, and all I can say is that Louisville, Kalamazoo and Chattanooga really sound much more fun and much more interesting than Scotland, particularly when no-one will play with you because they are singing songs or doing unspeakable things to Franking Machine. So yesterday I decided I would get out of dodge and stow away to Kalamazoo. I popped on a couple of blue airmail stickers, crept into the van, and prepared for my transatlantic journey.


Sadly, Tom caught me in my hiding place among the the mail crates and my plan was foiled. Curses! No Kalamazoo for me! But then an interesting thing happened. When I came back into the house there was no more cardboard! The book mountain had considerably diminished! Franking Machine was quiet! And Kate had finally stopped singing! I think I can safely say that things are getting back to normal. Perhaps I shall visit Kalamazoo another day.
See you soon love Bruce xx

Kate adds: phew – we are all caught up! If you placed an order for a book between 7th November and today I’m very happy to say that your package has shipped and will be with you very soon! Also, my singing is really not that bad . . .

Things of Human Interest


Hiya! It is I, Bruce. Today I am here to tell you about an important difference between Dogs and Humans.

This is where I live.


It is a good place and there are many things I like about it. My human companions also like this place. But although dogs and humans both can both like a place, it is not often for the same reason. This is one of the many curious but important differences between us.

For example, one of my favourite walks goes past these trees.


I like these trees because they mark the entrance into Good Field, a location where maximum fun is to be had. But Kate likes these trees because they are dead and alive at the same time.


Past these trees is Good Field – one of my all-time favourite spots. Whatever the weather, the grass of Good Field is always wet and the ground of Good Field is always squishy and soggy. In Good Field can often be found deer and hare who are fun to chase, and if the cows pass by, they kindly leave an interesting mess behind. In Winter the mud of Good Field grows deep and dank and in the Summer Good Field’s plants grow thick and high. Good Field is a place for bounding, for leaping, for getting wet and dirty, and for gingering oneself up with all kinds of funky smells. In all seasons of the year, then, it is an excellent place to be.


Now, Kate does not like Good Field for its mud or for its interesting aroma. Nor does she seem particularly happy when she trips into the cow mess, or wades clumsily through the waist high grasses. In fact, the qualities I most admire about Good Field are things Kate merely tolerates, or on occasion actually seems irritated by. I have heard her mutter words such as “ballache” as she stumbles, is bitten by a horsefly, or, as today, gets muddy trousers after falling on her arse. So why on earth does Kate take me to Good Field if she herself does not enjoy the many delights it has to offer? The answer is, of course, that it contains Things of Human Interest.


Good Field’s Things of Human Interest are these Old Stones.


Now, I am hardly ever diverted by Things of Human Interest, and I have to say that these Old Stones strike me as rather commonplace. Certainly they carry no significance for a dog like me.


And yet I am tolerant enough of human foibles to dutifully sit and pose.


Dear dog comrades, the moral of this tale is to joyfully accompany your companions when they wish to visit Things of Human Interest. That way you are likely to spend time in really excellent places, like Good Field.

some Spring weather


It is a lovely time of year, and, as the weather starts to change I am really appreciating our new situation. Our house is in the middle of the photo above – one of five properties on a small steading, situated at about 250m above sea level. In front of the steading, to the South, the land dips away to a small lochan. To the North, East and West, we are surrounded by hills and woods. After living in a city, when one steps outside, the space here sometimes feels immense to me, but because of our location, there is also the interesting sensation of being cradled in the landscape, a dip in the earth sheltered by a canopy of sky. Yesterday I took a walk around the loch with Bruce, and felt this very distinctly. The arc of this rainbow shifted round the landscape with me, curving over the steading and seeming to somehow illuminate it.

On my daily walks I see the landscape slowly coming back to life. Birds sing in the early hours, daffodils have taken the place of the snowdrops, and last week I saw the first caterpillars and frogs of the year.


Golden flowers are appearing on the gorse, the ultimate sign of a Scottish spring for me.


The Spring weather has almost made up for the fact that I spent last week at home, with a poorly Bruce, rather than in Shetland, where I was, in fact, supposed to be.


Worry not, friends of Bruce: he is doing fine. The cone is a wee bit tiresome for everyone, but his snout is healing, and we will be back at the vets this afternoon.

The Spring light has also given me a chance to photograph the steeked design I mentioned in my last post. It is a garment for a man, and will be released as part of a new collaboration with my good friend and colleague Jen Arnall-Culliford. I’m very much looking forward to telling you all about it next week! It is a time for new releases all round, in fact, as various things are due to arrive next Monday which I’ve been keeping under my hat for some months, but am very keen to show you. (Apologies for all of the mystery, but soon all will be revealed.)

Right, the sun has come out and it is time for another walk with Bruce. Enjoy your Monday, everyone!