Kate Davies Designs

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

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!

Buachaille Baffies


Here’s the first pattern – or rather pair of patterns – for the Seven Skeins Club!


The Scots term for a pair of house slippers, or hüttenschuhe, is baffs or baffies. The term seems particularly common in Fife and around Perth, where my friend Mel hails from. When not tripping lightly in her high heeled shoes, Mel can generally be found padding around in a pair of baffies. These are Mel’s neat feet, in a pair of Buachaille Baffies.


Mel’s pair are extremely simple to make. You begin as you would for a toe-up sock, later dividing at the top of the foot to knit back and forth, creating a hard-wearing but flexible garter stitch heel, which is seamlessly joined at the back with a three-needle bind off.


The baffies are finished with a neat i-cord edging.


Mel’s pair are made in Buachaille shades Highland Coo and Squall. If you were feeling more adventurous, you could make yourself the stranded version of the pattern, which I am wearing here, in shades Highland Coo and Ptarmigan.


My pair are constructed in exactly the same manner as Mel’s, with a stranded colourwork pattern added across the foot. The pattern recalls the mountains which inspired my yarn!

The sizing of these baffies is pretty flexible and there are instructions in the pattern to make them fit well (by adjusting the rounds on the foot and adding garter stitch ridges at the heel you can make a pair of baffies for pretty much anyone).


I found this a strangely addictive pattern, both to design and make. Once I’d finalised the shape I simply couldn’t stop whipping up baffies! I really enjoyed knitting them and hope that you do too. And if you are wondering about the backdrop to our baffies, Mel and I are modelling these on an incredibly luxurious sheepskin beanbag made by our friends at the Real Shetland company. Cosy!


If you are a subscriber to the Seven Skeins Club, you will be receiving an email today with a download code and link to enable you to access the patterns for the Buachaille Baffies, in both striped and stranded versions.

If you have any queries about the patterns, please post these to the thread in my Ravelry group. The group should be your first port of call for any questions, and we are checking in several times a day.

And if you have not received your download link by Saturday, please let us know by emailing infoATkatedaviesdesigns.com

If posting progress pictures or finished projects on social media, please use the hashtags #Sevenskeinsclub or #Buachaille so that we can see and admire what you are making!

Enjoy your Buachaille Baffies!

Seven Skeins Club yarn calculator


Those of you who have subscribed to the Seven Skeins Club will shortly be receiving an email with some welcome information. If you are a club member and have not received our welcome email by Thursday, please contact us at infoATkatedaviesdesigns.com so that we can amend your details.
The club patterns have been carefully planned to make the most of your seven skeins. The amount of yarn used in each project has been calculated by gauge, yardage and weight, and you’ll note that the welcome information includes an instruction to weigh your skeins before commencing the first pattern. It’s really important you do this now (and indeed keep weighing your yarn after each project is completed) and you’ll probably get rather tired of me instructing you to Weigh Your Skeins. . . but to ensure you never run out of yarn and to help you make choices about which shades to use, and which patterns to knit Jen and Jim (my wizardy tech editors) have devised a superbly nifty calculator.

To use the calculator:
You will need to have a recent version of Microsoft Excel.
Download the calculator here:

Seven Skeins club yarn calculator

Enter an X in the box next to your chosen main colour (MC) shade, your chosen contrast colour (CC) shade, and your chosen weekly project.
Remember to only choose one project per week.
The calculator will then magically tell you how much yarn you will use and how much of each shade remains!

Due to the volume of email we are currently receiving, we are unable to provide any technical support for the yarn calculator and have made it available for your information and assistance only.

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.

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!


Seven Skeins club


Just to let you know that sign-ups for membership of the Seven Skeins club open at noon (BST, current UK time) tomorrow, Friday September 18th in my shop.

The newsletter has now gone out, and subscribers will be receiving their 10% discount code shortly.

These things take a wee while to filter through the ether – please don’t worry if you don’t receive the newsletter immediately – it is on its way.

Other sales (of books and ribbons) will be temporarily suspended (while we deal with the club memberships), so if you would like to purchase anything else in the shop, please do so today, and we will ship orders out tomorrow.

Thankyou, everyone!

Cross-Country Knitting: Volume 3

Bank Swallows by Charley Harper

I have a great fondness for birds, and bird-inspired design. Like many designers, I adore the work of Charley Harper, because of the way that he manages to capture the bird-ness of a bird with such admirable economy of line. Harper somehow really got how birds – with their simple shapes, their distinctive characters and behaviours – seem to lend themselves naturally to repeating patterns, as can also be seen in the work of my favourite printmaker, Dee Beale.
Swallows in Chalky Blue by Dee Beale

Dees joyful kaleidoscope of swallows just sings out with the exuberance of a returning Spring!

Avian shapes are particularly effective when worked over small repeats of knitted stitches. SpillyJane is a master of this kind of thing, and her Flamingo Mittens blow me away every single time I see them.


There’s that same economy of line . . . and those flamingos are so neat! So inscrutable! So chock full of retro vim!

I also love to create bird-y designs, and as well as some work of which you might be aware, I also have a notebook filled with numerous unmade avians. In that notebook there are sketches for lapwing and gannet inspired knitwear, and perhaps one day I will show you the crazy oystercatcher intarsia that almost made it into Yokes. . .

Anyway, about the only other person I know who is just as obsessed with birds, and avian-inspired design, as I am is my friend Jen. It was a natural decision that birds would be the subject of our next Cross-Country challenge. This is the result.


My design is the murmuration scarf, and it was inspired by spectacular collective displays of starlings in the autumn months.


As you can see, a flock of starlings rises up and disperses across each end of the scarf. The repeats are really simple – just a few stitches – but I hope I’ve managed to convey in these few stitches the feeling of a rising flock in flight.


I like a big woolly scarf and I won’t lie – there is a lot of knitting in it. But I do think the end result is worth it.


Jen designed a pleasingly graphic hat and mitts set inspired by her favourite bird – the Atlantic puffin.


Jolly puffins parade around the hat, and the crown has a beak-related surprise.


There’s also another surprise, as a single puffin at the front of the hat is picked out in full colour embroidery (worked in simple duplicate stitch and back stitch).


The mitts mirror the stripes and stitches of the hat, with another embroidered puffin on one hand.


Tom shot these photographs on a lovely evening out at Inveruglas.


This was a particularly fun photoshoot, because it was with Jen.


Cross-Country Knitting, volume 3 includes the patterns for the murmuration scarf, and the Fufnip hat and mitts. I’ve also written an essay for this volume about the love of birds that Jen and I share.

Both our designs use one of my favourite yarns – Jamieson and Smith 2 ply jumper weight. Why not stock up in Lerwick if you are there for wool week?
You can now find Cross Country Knitting, volume 3, digitally on ravelry and in print on Mag Cloud.