My name is Kate Davies. I live on Scotland’s West Highland Way where I love writing knitting, and walking in the wonderful landscapes that surround me. I find that each of these activities has a creative and a critical dimension and the best of possible worlds is one in which I productively combine them all. I have a doctorate in eighteenth-century history, and have written books, essays and feature articles on a wide range of topics from the American Revolution to the history of lace.
Knitting is one of my greatest loves, and in 2010 (when a stroke at the age of 36 ended my academic career) I began Kate Davies Designs (KDD) creating digital patterns for hand knitters. The business lent me a platform to combine my skills in research, writing and design, and quickly became a small publishing company through which I began to produce my own books. In Colours of Shetland (2012), Yokes (2014), Buachaille: At Home in The Highlands (2015), The Book of Haps (2016), Shetland Oo (2016), Inspired by Islay (2017) and Happit (2017) I bring my passions for historical research, textile design, and practical creativity together. Nothing makes me happier than seeing knitters all over the world enjoying my books and making and wearing my designs.
Making things, from books to hats, is what really makes me tick, and as KDD grew I began to explore some different kinds of manufacturing. In 2015 I developed my own brands of yarn for hand knitting and in 2017 launched my own knitwear line, KDD Originals, designed and made right here in Scotland.
I’ve worked with museums and heritage organisations, sharing my expertise (Tate Modern, Shetland Amenity Trust, and Gawthorpe Textiles) and have also contributed to BBC radio programmes on diverse topics such as the landscape of British knitting and the history of socks (BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour; BBC Radio 2 Simon Mayo show). I’ve been an ambassador of Shetland Wool Week, my designs have featured on BBC tv , and my website is archived by the British Library as part of its project to preserve national documentary heritage.
I’ve recently turned my hand to a different kind of writing, and am currently completing a memoir which explores my experiences of brain injury, creativity, and practices of making. Handywoman will be published in the Spring of 2018.
My husband, Tom Barr, shares my love of the great Scottish outdoors, and is responsible for the beautiful photography you’ll find here. As well as taking pictures of knitwear, Tom loves photographing the Scottish landscape and its people at work and recently produced the acclaimed book Shetland Oo which documents the work of wool in Shetland. You can browse Tom’s photography, and purchase prints of his work in his online gallery.
Our good friend, Melanie Patton, expertly test knits my designs, manages our customer service, and generally keeps everything shipshape here at KDD HQ. If you need to contact us about anything, it is likely you’ll speak to Mel.
Bruce is the final, indispensable member of the KDD team. He’s our fun-loving labrador and enjoys running with Tom, walking with me, and swimming in Loch Lomond whenever he gets the opportunity.
Regional design, regional manufacturing
We design and make things inspired by the landscapes that we love. We are a small yarn producer, working with skilled manufacturers in the Scottish Borders, Donegal and Yorkshire, and a small publisher, creating books under our own imprint. Our books are beautifully made for us by Bell & Bain, our knitwear is expertly manufactured by William Lockie, and our photographic prints produced by Loxley Colour — all great local companies. From the designs we create to the books we print, we are proud to support and promote regional manufacturing, creativity and design in many different contexts. KDD is a proud member of Textiles Scotland.
An award-winning small business
In 2016, Kate Davies Designs was honoured to be awarded the accolade of UK Microbusiness of the Year by the Federation of Small Business & Worldpay. We also won the 2016 award for Best Use of Social Media from Business Women Scotland. Kate was also shortlisted for the national award of Creative Entrepreneur of the Year and Tom’s image of Elizabeth Johnston spinning was shortlisted for the EEF photographic prize.
The best way to see what we are up to is by following this blog! You can read pieces exploring a wide range of topics in textile history and design from Kate, and enjoy recipes photography and tutorials from Tom. Occasionally, you may also hear from Bruce as well. If you’d like to receive special offers and promotions, and be the first to know about our new projects, sign up for our newsletter. You can also find me on Instagram, Twitter and Ravelry.
If you need help with a pattern, please join our Ravelry group, check the relevant discussion thread, and post a query (if you’ve not found an answer!).
For all other customer service queries, contact us at email@example.com
Commissions / business enquiries
If you are an editor or curator with a commission, or a retailer with a trade enquiry, please contact us at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you’d like to purchase books or yarn, knitwear or prints, just head on over to the shop.