Kate Davies Designs

a handmade wedding

outfits

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!

hose1

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.

hose3

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.

hose2

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.

sgiaendhu

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

bruce

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.

cable

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

17

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

cairngorm2

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!

cairngorm3

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

heidpiece1

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

button1

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.

button6

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.

button4

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!

button3

Tom made our wedding cake.

cake1

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.

cake2

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

BUNTING

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.

melgordonlo

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 . . .

Slainte!

9

Our wedding at Finlaggan

3

We had a wonderful day.

4

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

15

Lucy played “Ho Ro, My Nut Brown Maiden”

7
14

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.

10

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

quaich1

Bruce looked on.

BRUCE

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

2

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.)

16
13
11

We are very happy

8
5
distance
witnesses

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.

PIC

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

at Sue and Wal’s

gardenbruce

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 . . .

MA

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

gloves

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

stix

. . . 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.

happybruce

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” . . .

potato1

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

potato2

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”.

potato5

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.

potato3

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.

sweetmoves

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.

potato4

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

homestead

A snow day

post

Time for a walk . . .

treeandsky

on the West Highland Way!

threetrees
tracks
iheartsnow
snowballz

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 . . .

whw

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

brucesnow

. . 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.

blocking

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!).

crown

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.

pom

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

airmail

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.

stowaway

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 . . .

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,196 other followers