It’s been an interesting (and busy) couple of weeks. Tom has been travelling around Shetland, finalising the photography for our new book, and I’ve been here, at home, working.

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Without Tom, I’ve a tendency to go a bit feral. I eat whatever happens to be in the cupboard, I leave things lying around with no pretence at being tidy, and potter about in my night attire and a gigantic lopapeysa, reading and writing. The idea was to spend the fortnight finalising the patterns for Inspired by Islay (which Jen is currently editing) and to focus my mind a little on beginning a rather different kind of project.

Over the years, I’ve been approached by several different publishers and literary agents about a few different things. Though I’ve considered all offers carefully, none has really, properly gripped me until I was contacted by an agent who had heard my interview on Woman’s Hour. Her agency represents several of the authors of the kind of intelligent non-fiction I myself enjoy reading, she’s clearly a good egg, and I’ve decided to give it a go. I’m really very excited to work with her, have been doing a lot of thinking and reading, and am now writing something in a slightly different vein for publication than I’ve done previously.

So I’ve been spending my mornings working on the new project, and my afternoons on Inspired by Islay. This has been interspersed with packing and shipping shop orders, knitting samples, dealing with the daily demands of accounts and other admin, and getting outside with Bruce. I’ve felt really busy, and have rather enjoyed the busi-ness – apart, that is, from being apart from Tom. When he appeared this morning, having endured an extraordinarily rough overnight North-Sea crossing which I’m glad to have escaped, I realised I hadn’t properly laughed for two weeks, and felt vaguely hysterical.

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Shetland in October is always beautiful, but I think Tom was particularly blessed this time with two weeks of incredible golden weather.

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When he wasn’t photographing woolly subjects, he was out with his camera enjoying the landscape, and has returned with many beautiful non-book-related images.

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I particularly like this photo of the waterfall at the Burn of Lunklet. In order to take it, Tom held the camera on a tripod submerged into the moving water several feet below him.

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But Tom was in Shetland not to point his camera at waterfalls, of course, but at wool. He’s spent the fortnight industriously photographing lots of sheep, and folk of many different ages and professions in many different woolly contexts. I’m bowled over by the images, and we are both quite fired up now about this book. The sheer diversity and vitality of the people, jobs, and aesthetics that are involved in the Shetland wool industry is pretty staggering, and we really hope Lives in Oo will get that message across. You’ll see more woolly pictures soon!

While travelling to Yell, Tom ran into Kelli Mc Kee and her husband, who were visiting Shetland from the U.S. Tom took a couple of photos of Kelli, who was wearing beautifully-knitted versions of my Stevenson and Neep Heid designs.

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Kelli, these pictures made me really happy! Hope you had a great time in Shetland – I just wanted to say hi.

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Talking of Stevenson brings me full circle, to the Stevenson lighthouse that inspired it and whose image begins and ends this rather miscellaneous post!
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Hope you are enjoying your weekend!

Kate (and Tom) x

46 thoughts on “Home and away

  1. Thank you thank you, I cherish the images and words in every post — you evoke a deep feeling of wanderlust! Good luck on your latest new writing venture!

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  2. Tom’s photos are incredibly beautiful as always. I’ll never be able to travel to Scotland, Ireland or England, so I really love to see Tom’s photos.

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  3. Tom’s photos are always beautiful. This time the photo of the waterfall took my breath away. No words seem adequate to describe. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  4. I love your description of going feral (especially the lopapeysa). I’ve done the very same thing, and oh, I get so much work done that way! (I’ve learned to stash some good homemade food in the freezer for quick healthy eating during such feral adventures!)

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  5. I really loved this one and the main reason is how you describe what you felt at having Tom back home. I wish you many more years of such romance, it’s beautiful. You and Tom are are a very inspiring couple.Thank you for sharing!

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  6. These photos are absolutely stunning. It’s like they are from another world.

    I had a giggle about you going “feral” when Tom is away. I can relate. When I have the house to myself all sense of responsibility disappears and I wander around in my pjs, eating whenever I feel like it and knitting away to my little hearts content.

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  7. After stumbling across your blog, I began at the beginning and read straight through over the course of several weeks. Your entries turned into a novel. I hope this is the direction your new writing is taking you.

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  8. It’s lovely to know there are such exciting books on the way. You and Tom and James Rebanks keep me in touch with the things that matter. Thank you!

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  9. Oh! Such amazing photos – and such an amazing place! The weather has been marvellous hasnt it? I do so love this golden time of autumn.

    We went to see Kate Rusby the other night – at the Usher Hall. She came on with a Yorkshire Tea mug, and it made me think of you!! You might enjoy this song – if you dont already know it – about Big Brave Bill, a Barnsley superhero: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thoRROtX9Fc

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  10. Tom’s photos are *magnificent*! Except I don’t think that’s a strong enough word. I think he could make a garbage can on a city street look like a work of art.

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  11. Hey Kate..glad to find you well and busy…amazing , amazing pictures Tom, …would love a print of that waterfalls on my wall…cheers pat j

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  12. Tom has an amazing and magical way of viewing the world! Can’t wait for the new projects. Love sharing your days with you…

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  13. Such stunning photographs! They make my heart ache with longing to get back to Shetland. There’s just something about that place that gets under one’s skin.

    As for going feral, I love living like that for a few days. But I can totally relate to what you said about realizing you hadn’t laughed properly in two weeks. Feral can cross the line to slightly demented quite quickly, at least in my case. :-)

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  14. I am in the middle of re-reading Anne Cleeve’s ‘Shetland’ series so your post was very timely. Although I am lucky enough to live in SW France, I do find myself drawn to colder places – maybe because I was brought up in Lancashire!

    Your designs and beautiful photography – thanks to Tom for the stunning ones here – give me so much pleasure. Thank you.

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  15. just prior to looking at blog posts, I was looking at ferry fares to Shetland. We cycled through in 2006 when the ferry ran from Bergen and we were cycling around the North Sea. We are considering coming again to cycle in 2017. I knew n old Shetlander who moved south and she would knit the old patterns in her sleep!!

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  16. I realised I hadn’t properly laughed for two weeks, and felt vaguely hysterical. – That is exactly how I feel without my honey. Even for a few hours and we’ve been married 15 years! I guess that’s how you know he’s the one for you.

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  17. Someone once described a view as ‘that beautiful I could jist greet’. Same for me with these photos especially the Burn of Lunklet.

    I’m with you on the feral bit. What’s wrong with leaning at the kitchen sink and eating a cold, leftover tattie, straight from the fridge,for lunch.

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  18. I know feral too, I live alone and am feral nine tenths of the time. Very tricky when someone comes to the door and I have to keep them on the doorstep so that I don’t unveil the chaos inside! But so lovely to be able just to do one’s thing…

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  19. I look forward to your new writing project as much as I eagerly anticipate the release of Inspired by Islay. Your writing in itself gives me enormous pleasure. I am so very happy for you. Your life seems to be brimming over with love and laughter and creativity.

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  20. Kate Davies, your writing, ideas, images, spirit are woven into my own, thanks to your online presence. You have introduced me to many others whose work I admire – Knitsonic, Helen Magnussen, Tom of Holland, Gudrun Johnson, Hazel Tindall, the lacemakers in Scotland whose handiwork hearkens to the Flemish emigres of the Hundred Year War, to Shetland itself – to name only a very few. I appreciate your work thoroughly and look forward very much to Lives in Oo. With warm wishes, Jane Macdonald

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  21. Oh yes going feral! I tend to indulge my need for cheese & oatcakes, or jacket potatoes with cottage cheese with Branson pickle (don’t ask!), the pj’s are a given and I tend to wrap myself in a big hap or blanket & snuggle on the sofa with a hot chocolate and either a book or knitting to work on and if it’s raining or snowing I justify it by saying the weather is too bad to do anything else.

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  22. Kate, I do think often of your journey that has brought you to this point in your life and Tom’s as well. I think of your frustrations and the extremes of emotions you have had both the highs and lows. The awards and recognition, your business, designs, wool, and books. I look up to you in awe and your stubborn attitude of not giving up and love that you are so willing to share the journey with us all!

    Thank you!

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  23. Beautiful photos. I was lucky enough to go to Shetland in August & had that same “extraordinarily rough” overnight ferry ride! It was well worth it to arrive at such a special place. Can’t wait for the book.

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  24. I have also had recent interest in photography and appreciate the hard work it takes to get the picture you have in your head. Standing in water, getting up at midnight from your warm tent and sleeping bag all for the right picture. It isn’t leaving me much time to knit! It is a wonderful exercise in learning to see…

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  25. Thanks to you and Tom for allowing me my armchair traveling to such fantastically beautiful locations. (I also like your description of your time on your own. And the joy of Tom’s return.) xo

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  26. Thank you for taking time from your busy creative life to write your newsletter. I look forward to reading your words and seeing the photographs. Hoping your new project is a “memoir.”

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  27. Wow! Oh our world is a much greater place because of You and Tom and of course, Brucie.
    Thanks again for your light + wooly stories.
    x-x-x-x-x-x
    Teri

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  28. Oh, Kate, going feral is a perfect description of what I am like when I am alone. I quickly lose most of my civilized tendencies when no one else is around. I am glad someone else does as well! Tom’s pictures are lovely! Glad that you still have enough of your newlywed status that you missed him so much and enjoyed your reunion so well. Good luck on the new projects. Cheers!

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  29. How wonderful to have a chance to see this through a photographer’s eyes. So beautiful.
    I understand the feeling of delight in having your space to yourself, for a change, then delight in having them back. :-) Looking forward to your new book.

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  30. I SO concur with Diane………weeping!! And so fun to see another McKee…we live! The first McKee documented to leaving Scotland went from Northernmost Scotland in a ship called Speedwell. Also the name of the sheep that gave me my first Herbidean fleece!!
    Pictures are lovely and what a fun reunion you must have had with Tom! Cheers

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  31. I don’t know if it was deliberate or not but, as your post appeared on my page, there was glorious juxtaposition happening. Tom’s beautiful picture of the old white house with the red paintwork and peeling plaster struck me as inspiration for something knitted in the white/grey/scarlet combination and right there to the right of it was your tutorial o covered buttons which had the grey/white tam with the scarlet button on the top Serendipity indeed! Can’t wait for the new book.

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