Kate Davies Designs

goats & yarn


As promised, here are Mel’s goats. She selected Buachaille shades Squall, Islay and Haar for her set, and the effect is quite different to the colours I chose for mine. Here’s a good shot of the top of her heid, where you can see the amorous goats, and the hearts at the centre of the crown.


I say “you can see” but it now turns out that many folk don’t see the goat-iness of this pattern at all. I find these optical preferences quite interesting, and suspect in this case its largely because the goats are rendered in a lighter shade on a darker background. So if you aren’t seeing it immediately, just stare hard at the lighter shade on Mel’s heid and THINK GOATS.


Do you see them now?

Only Mel would have carefully selected a colour-co-ordinating nail polish to wear with her goaty gauntlets.


I’m pleased to say that I’ll be putting more goat kits up in the shop later today, in both colourways.


. . . and (small fanfare) we’ll also be putting Buachaille on general sale.


Our plan is to update the shop every Sunday afternoon (around 5pm) and to re-stock it with what we are able to prepare and ship over the coming week (without driving ourselves donutty). We had a delivery of Buachaille last week, so do be assured there is enough yarn for everyone, but we have to phase its release in terms of what we can feasibly manage. If a particular shade sells out quickly, it is likely to be available again the following week. Tom is labelling and stringing yarn tags as we speak in preparation for today’s update. We have a good system and some great new shop software in place and everything is ready!

Buachaille retails at £7.49 per 50g / 120 yards / 110 metres and all seven shades will be available.
The shop update will be at 5pm GMT.

I’m off to tag some skeins. See you later!

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



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.

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.

Oystercatcher yoke


Autumn has definitely arrived in Scotland and it is, as they say, sweater weather. I have been very busy making samples for the Seven Skeins club, so there has not been much sweater knitting around here of late. But the other day I found something that I knitted up a while ago that needed adapting into a sweater. . . my oystercatcher yoke


Oystercatchers are one of my favourite coastal birds. Skittish and characterful, I love their high pip-pipping alarm, and the warbling noise they make in the evening is one of the most familiar and lovely sounds there is of the Scottish Summer. They are also fabulously graphic birds, with their bright orange beaks and eyes set against the strong black and white lines of their plumage.


I have numerous bird-inspired ideas knocking around in my design notebooks and my oystercatcher yoke idea was one which, for a while, I considered including in Yokes. In the end I decided against it: the yoke uses a combination of intarsia and stranded colourwork, plus three-shades-in-one-round over some rounds. It seemed a little too involved for such a simple sweater . . . plus I had already come up with a good Alafoss Lopi idea when I designed Jökull. So other ideas went to the top of the list, while the oystercatcher was rejected. This didn’t mean I couldn’t knit it for myself, though!


As you can see the yoke features bold motifs which recall the oystercatcher’s beak and eye. I knitted the bottom half of the beaks with intarsia, shifting to stranded colourwork further up the yoke, and working the three-shade rounds using Elizabeth Zimmermann’s slipped technique, (also deployed on my Foxglove design).


For reasons which now elude me, I originally knitted this as a dress. But I soon discovered when I blocked it that it was, as a garment, pretty unpractical. Knitted in Alafoss Lopi, it was unbelievably warm, a wee bit baggy, slightly unflattering and not particularly comfortable. So today I unravelled the bottom of the dress, knit on an edging at sweater length, and finally made my oystercatcher wearable! The lopi is still super-warm of course, but there is less of it: the effect is similar to one of those ubiquitous padded gilets that suddenly appear on everyone’s backs at this time of year. It is ideal, in other words, for October.


I am very happy with my re-adapted oystercatcher and can see myself getting a lot of wear out of it this Autumn. I’ve made this design for myself only and do not intend to produce any kind of pattern for it. But if you were interested in knitting an Oystercatcher yoke, then please feel free to improvise your own.

Happy knitting! Pip pip!

Seven Skeins dispatch central


Since Friday, we have been very busy packing and dispatching yarn parcels for the Seven Skeins club.



We are working hard, but oftentimes I find myself stopping just to admire and squoosh the lovely wool.


The seven shades compete for my affections. At the moment I think my favourite is Haar – the silvery-grey natural fleece shade, inspired by cold sea mists.


This weekend we’ve packed the majority of the airmail (we’re holding off sending Ireland, because of a postal strike). This was the scene when we finished last night.


Now Tom is just heading off to the sorting office – the first of many trips today!


Bruce was very excited to see that some parcels in this van-load were going to Labrador.

So if you are a club member, a parcel of yarn will be heading your way!


We hope you are as batty about Buachaille as we are!

Love Kate, Tom, Mel, Gordon, Ivor and Bruce xx

Shetland days


It is Wool Week in Shetland, and I began it in this cottage out at Vementry. What a spot!







It was lovely to take some time out to visit my friend Hazel Tindall. I just love the part of Shetland where Hazel lives, and it was a real privilege to potter about her garden, and sample her home-grown produce. She’s certainly fared better than I with beans and soft fruit this year! I also explored some Westside nooks that were completely new to me, like Michaelswood – planted and maintained by the Ferrie family in memory of their son and brother, Michael Ferrie, and enjoyed by the whole community. I found this expanse of newly-planted saplings at the top of the hill very moving.


On Monday evening, I gave a talk at the Shetland Museum with my pal, Ella. Ella and I enjoy collecting vintage knitwear . . .


. . . and so we both talked about our collections, what we loved about them, and what we learned from them. Felix chaired the whole occasion with aplomb. As well as speaking to a packed audience, the event was live-streamed from the Shetland Museum to viewers in 9 countries all over the world! Somewhat daunting!


I understand from my friends at Promote Shetland that there are now plans to make the event publicly available to view from their website, so I’ll keep you posted.

It is really wonderful to see how much Shetland Wool Week has grown, and how it has been enthusiastically embraced by knitters and other crafty folk from all over the world. The opening ceremony was a really grand occasion! We were royally entertained by the evening’s knitting pundits, Felix and Louise, as well as by the Hjaltibonhoga Shetland Fiddlers, fresh from the Edinburgh Tattoo, who wore marvellous knitwear created by inventive Shetland designer, NiellaNell


Claire White was a wonderfully professional compere, and sang a beautiful song she’d written about Shetland knitting legend, Betty Mouat.


I could listen to Oliver talk about Shetland wool all day.


And I can’t think of a better Shetland Wool Week patron than wonderful Donna Smith – she’s someone whose warm presence just emanates her passion for knitting and for Shetland.


I am quite a private person, and I get to meet knitters very rarely. I really think this was the highlight of the week for me – and I found it quite humbling chatting to so many engaged knitterly folk! I’d like to give a particular shout-out to Gail, who, like me, was a youthful reader of Giovannino Guareschi, and to Ruth from Rhode Island, who is a very sweet person.

Its always so exciting seeing my designs out in the wild! Here are Betsy and Judie in Scatness Tam and Shepheid – the latter knitted by Judie from her own handspun.


Carmen seems one of those effortlessly stylish sort of people, and I very much admired her Hap for Harriet!


But it was Fiona who really made my day in this natty ensemble comprising Ursula, Funchal Moebius, Ecclefechan Mitts and Fugue . . .


Thankyou, knitters for being so very enthusiastic and inspiring, and thank you Shetland, for your bright full moons, beaches, birdsong, sunsets, the smell of peat fires, the sound of water, rolling hills, rocky cliffs, and your wonderful sheep and wool.


Pop-up fair


Are you in Edinburgh this weekend? If so, can I encourage you to pop along to the pop-up fair which is being held by my friends at the Royal Edinburgh Repository and Self Aid Society on Saturday? I’ve mentioned the Society here many times, and as you know, it exists to provide financial support to its member-makers through the sale of their work. The member-makers are extremely talented, and at the fair you’ll find . . .

beautifully hand-stitched children’s garments


. . . a range of gifts and toys . . .


and a multitude of wonderful hand-knitted items in lace, cables and Fairisle


So if you are in Edinburgh on Saturday do head over to St Andrews & St Georges (on George Street) between 10.30 and 3.30, and say I sent you!