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.”