My name is Kate Davies. I live by Scotland’s West Highland Way where I love writing, knitting walking, and swimming 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.
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 rapidly grew into 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), Happit (2017), West Highland Way (2018) Shore (2018) and Milarrochy Heids (2018) I bring my passions for historical writing 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 New Lanark) 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 was the first ambassador of Shetland Wool Week, and my designs have featured on BBC television .I’ve recently published Handywoman: a new book exploring my experiences of brain injury, craft, and creativity.
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 other matters involving graphics, imagery, print and production at KDD. In all our projects (such as our acclaimed book, Shetland Oo), I’m generally the “words”, while Tom’s the “pictures.”
Our good friend, Melanie Patton, manages our operations and generally keeps everything shipshape here at KDD HQ. As a supplier or a customer, if you need to contact us about anything, it is likely you’ll speak to Mel.
Pictured here with Mel is Claire Leach – talented knitter and all-round good-egg – who manages the KDD Ravelry group with warmth and aplomb. You’ll find Claire on Ravelry as soupdragon – pop over and say hello!
Jane Hunter handles our inventory and fulfilment. As well as taking good care of the yarn and books you order, Jane is an extraordinarily talented artist, creating beautiful work which invites you to look at Scotland’s landscape with fresh eyes. You can find Jane’s work in our Inspired by Islay book, and read more about her here.
Bruce and Bobby are the final, indispensable members of the KDD team. Our fun-loving labradors enjoy the Scottish landscape just as much as we do, and encourage us to get outdoors whenever there’s an opportunity.
Regional design, regional manufacturing
We are a small yarn producer, working with skilled manufacturers around Scotland, and a small publisher, producing books in Glasgow under our own imprint. We are proud to support and promote regional creativity and design in many different contexts: we are members of Textiles Scotland and proud signatories of the Scottish Business Pledge.
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’ve been described by the Times (June 20, 2018) as “a pattern for others to follow” because of our productivity and innovation and also won an 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 pop into 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissions / business enquiries
If you are an editor or curator with a commission, or a retailer with a trade enquiry, please contact me at the following address: email@example.com
The KDD shop
If you are interested in our books or yarn, knitwear or prints, just head on over to the shop.