Oftentimes, in the wake of finishing a large project, I am gripped with the urge to knit a hat. While I was waiting for my copies of Colours of Shetland to appear from the printer, I worked away on Snawheid, and similarly last year, in the hiatus between going to print and shipping Yokes, I happily whipped up Epistropheid. This year was no different and, once we’d finished work on the new Buachaille book, the familiar hat urge gripped me once again. I found myself unable to resist, and before I knew it, I had charted a hat and found myself knitting it. The hat featured goats.


Goats? Yes, goats.

(goaty photograph courtesy of Mark Stanley – thank you, Mark!)

In the areas of rough, brushy woodland that connect Loch Lomond, Loch Katrine, and Loch Ard live several herds of feral goats. Much beloved by walkers of the West Highland Way, goat and human paths frequently cross near Inversnaid, which is where I’ve most often come across them. The Inversnaid goats are thought to have the longest pedigree of any Scottish herd, and are associated with one of many legends about King Robert the Bruce. As Bruce fled from his English enemies along the shores of Loch Lomond, he took refuge in a cave near Inversnaid. The goats surrounded the King’s cave, and lay down in front of it, disguising its entrance.The English soldiers paid no attention to the goats, passed by the cave, and Bruce remained safe. In gratitude, Bruce passed a decree, stating that the goats should never be harmed, but despite this their numbers now have to be controlled due to their destructive effects on the surrounding woodland habitat. As you can see from Mark’s photograph above, with their shaggy black coats and long curving horns, the Inversnaid goats are spectacularly beautiful and characterful beasts.

I am very fond of Loch Lomond’s wild goats, and fancied celebrating them in a hat.


As you can see, happy goats chase each other around and around the hat, and amorous goats encircle the crown.


I played with and pared down a few different goat-y motifs until I settled on this one, and was really pleased with the overall effect. One never quite knows how repeated motifs will work until you knit them, and what I like about this one is that it has a graphic simplicity and rhythm that is almost independent of its goat-iness. What I mean is that the fabric of the hat possesses its own overall visual structure – and then you notice there are goats on it.


I was so pleased with the fabric, in fact, that I couldn’t stop at a hat, and whipped up some goat-y gauntlets to match.


The rib and main colours are reversed on hat and gauntlets and together they make a really fun, wintery set.


I knit my goats in Buachaille shades Highland Coo, Between Weathers, and Ptarmigan, and the Scandinavian feel of these accessories is not unintentional – I have been an avid fan of the Gävle goat for several years, and I felt that that the Inversnaid goats might be similarly celebrated. The hat and gauntlets are probably a better idea than my other plan of erecting a massive straw goat at the bottom of the garden. Tom felt that the giant goat would have divided neighbourly opinion.


The Goats of Inversnaid are now available as a single download from Ravelry. Additionally, we had a delivery of Buachaille last week (hurrah!), and, as we are still waiting for the books to arrive, I had some time to prepare a few kits. So if you fancy knitting yourself a goaty hat and gauntlets in Buachaille, I’ve put a few kits up in the shop. The kit contains 3 skeins of Buachaille, a wee project bag, and a PDF download of both patterns. At the moment the kits are just in the shades I’ve knit my set in, but Mel has of course knit herself some goats in a slightly more restrained and classy colourway, and I should be able to make up a few more kits in her choice of shades next Sunday (which will be our regular day for shop updates going forward).


We’ve really enjoyed getting out in this spell of fine weather. Hope you’ve also had a great weekend, everyone! x

44 thoughts on “The goats of Inversnaid

  1. I finally see it! I see the pattern! I have felt somewhat frustrated of not being able to see what clearly everyone else saw and have been muttering away (in silence, at home, for my self) about it all. And then this morning I went to Ravelry and saw all the variations of the goat – and suddenly – there they were! Absolutely fascinating how I could have missed them. So I went back to your page – and sure enough – a hat filled with goats – and I sit totally bewildered over how I could have missed it all in the first place! And. I´m not a hat-person really but I do think I will make a goat hat for the autumn – just to tease my self!


  2. I can’t see a reply from Kate but I think the coat is from Toast. I have the navy version but bought it in the Toast sale about two years ago. Sometimes they have a vintage collection where you can get items from previous seasons.


    1. Hi Karen, you can pay by your choice of credit or debit card – the shop software uses PayPal’s processing system but you don’t need a PayPal account to make payment.


  3. Splendid. Will you be shipping kits and yarn to the States? And I imagine a modest straw goat an aesthetic unity to the garden that makes it an ideal spot to enjoy by everyone.


  4. Oops! Just getting time now to look at your blog! Loved the goats and yarn kit but was “Out of Stock” by today. Any thoughts as to when you’ll be adding more goat kits to your shop?

    Thanks! Cynthia
    ~A “It’s cold here in NewEnglander”


  5. I like what you say about the scandinacian feel. During the 2014 Olympic Games in Sotsji, the Norwegian athletes wore a particular hat when receiving their medals. In colours very similar to this hat. The hat was a huge success, and everyone made their own versions of it. Here worn by cross-country skiier Martin Johnsrud Sundby


  6. I missed out on the Club – the computer went into a horrible death spiral – so it was lovely to order a goat kit and try out the new yarn.


  7. lovely goats! My husband is a capricon and likes goats, i think this might be a good hat for him (I might need to skip the hearts at the top though). I still have a full skein of between weathers from my seven skeins and enough coo for the brim, I might start with the ptarmingan I’ve got left and see if i can make it, otherwise i’ll have to order more which is no big hardship :).


  8. Kate, I think you should know by now that wearing a new piece of finely selected clothing is going to cause a whole bunch of asking: WEAR DID YOU GET THAT COAT?

    So, where did you get that coat? Please.

    The hat and mitts are very pleasing. I like your urge to knit hats. xx


  9. Love the goats, so bright and cheery. Also love you coat, you always have such beautiful coats – where do you get them? I think this will be a lovley prjoject for my 7 skeins.


  10. Kate, you are SO CREATIVE!! I love reading your blog to see what you create next, and how you have turned your life around has been simply amazing. Thank you for all you have done in the knitting/wool world.


  11. So cute! It took me a moment to see the goats at first, as the background blue pops so much against the white. This happy little set will be so cheerful to wear once the last of the fall color has gone :)


  12. Far safer to have the goats on your cap and mitts set. The Gävle goat seems to be burned down every year (I think last year might be the first time it survived the holidays).
    Very fun knitted goats!


  13. what a coincidence!! i knitted the bluebells jumper from yokes with mountain goats around the yoke instead of bluebells!! love goats too xx


  14. Like several others have said already, it took me a few seconds to see the goats. Then, suddenly, there they were! I’ve ordered a kit and plan to have it be my first project on the needles in the New Year.


  15. Love the goat story and the pieces. I totally didn’t see the goats until the 4th photo. I saw horns but not their bodies. Then all of a sudden they popped right out at me!


  16. I love this! I kept looking for the goats, and all of a sudden, they jumped out at me! It is magic! I am saving my Buachaille yarn until I have all seven patterns (and I gave my Christmas knitting finished) but I can see this jumping to the top of the queue! Thank you!


  17. I love the Goat set in those colors! (Though I must admit that I stared at the set for a long time, trying to make the colorful sections look like goats, before recognizing that the goats were white against the colored background . . .)


  18. What a lovely design! And a great story! I also like the cape or coat you are wearing. Who is the designer? It matches the knitted accessories perfectly.


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