My name is Kate Davies. I live in a small steading on the edge of the Scottish Highlands where I love writing, designing, 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 PhD 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. I have particular expertise in textile history, women’s history, and design, and these interests are combined in my popular books Colours of Shetland (2012), Yokes (2014), and The Book of Haps (2016) (which are available in my shop)
I like my choice of materials to have a genuine connection to the landscape in which I live and work, and in 2015 began producing my own brand of 100% Scottish wool yarn for hand knitting.
I’ve worked with museums and heritage organisations, sharing my expertise (e.g. Tate Modern, Shetland Amenity Trust, and Gawthorpe Textiles) and have also contributed to national and local BBC radio programmes on diverse topics such as the landscape of British knitting and the history of socks (e.g. BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour; BBC Radio 2 Drive Time; BBC Radio Scotland; BBC Radio Shetland; BBC Radio Lancashire). I’ve been an ambassador of Shetland Wool Week, my designs have featured on BBC television , and my website is archived by the British Library as part of its project to preserve national documentary heritage.
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 my designs, Tom loves photographing people at work, and is currently producing his first book, which documents the work of wool in Shetland. Tom is also a great cook, and you’ll find some of his recipes in my books (as well as here on the blog).
My friend, Melanie expertly test knits my designs, runs 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.
Scottish design, Scottish manufacturing
Everything we design and make is inspired by, and rooted in, the wonderful landscape that surrounds us. We are a small yarn producer, using wool from Scottish sheep, and a small publisher, producing books under our own imprint. Our books are beautifully made for us just down the road by Bell & Bain, a fantastic company, with a long history in Glasgow. From the wool we produce to the books we create, we are proud to support and promote local manufacturing, creativity and design in many different contexts.
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 also won the 2016 award for Best Use of Social Media from Business Women Scotland (for Kate’s innovative development of the Seven Skeins Club). Kate was also recently shortlisted for the award of Creative Entrepreneur of the Year.
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 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 Kate on Instagram, Twitter and Ravelry
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Shop. If you’d like to purchase books, yarn or kits, head on over to the shop.