Good morning, everyone! It is Friday, which means its time for another pattern for Seven Skeins club members. This week I’ve created another wee project which is brilliant for using up scraps of yarn – its name is Cairngorm.


Strictly speaking, a cairngorm is a piece of smoky quartz from the famous mountain region that forms Britain’s largest national park. More generally in Scotland though, “cairngorm” is a word that refers to any large jewelled brooch serving as a fastening for a plaid, maud, or great kilt. Much beloved by the Victorians, cairngorm brooches usually featured large semi-precious stones—garnets and citrines as well as quartz—in a silver setting that was often richly decorated.


My woolly cairngorm, made up from odds and ends of yarn, recalls its jewelled namesakes in its large size and colourful appearance. The brooch is made by weaving lengths of wool in simple concentric circles, using a method that was popularly used to create small buttons during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. If you possess a button 3 inches or more in diameter this will work to stabilise the brooch, and if not, you will need to cut a disc from a piece of plastic (such as an empty ice cream tub or similar).

As you can see, I’m wearing my cairngorm with a plaid, but it would look equally jolly and decorative on the lapel of a tweed jacket or contemporary winter coat.


Cairngorm’s basic construction follows a weaving method that I’ve used for the buttons that feature on a couple of previous designs (such as the Scatness tam and tunic). I thought it would be interesting to extend the dimensions of these buttons, and experiment with using different shades. The results are striking, but the method is really simple!


I’ve put together a tutorial that illustrates the stages of constructing the brooch.


Because this isn’t knitting, its not listed in Ravelry as a separate pattern. But the tutorial can still be accessed and downloaded from Ravelry via the e-book, the full content of which has been made available today for club members.


So if you fancy making crowdie, or cranachan, or lavender shortbread, from one of Tom’s recipes you can try those out this weekend.


There has unfortunately been a bit of a delay with the book at the printers, so we aren’t able to ship out physical copies just yet. As soon as we have the books in hand we will let you know.


We are hoping for some decent weather so we can get out for a walk. Hope you all have a lovely weekend, however you are spending it!

20 thoughts on “Cairngorm

  1. I have been given some of your lovely wool but do not have a pattern or any idea of what size needles. It looks lovely and can’t wait to start. I would like to make a sleeveless cardigan I have 10 skeins


  2. I’ve read your blog for a couple of years now. I love the beautiful photos of your surroundings, especially the walks with Bruce. I am happy to watch you accomplish so many things…the patterns, the books, the wedding and now the yarn! Yay, You! May I ask a question about “the plaid”? Is it a blanket? A shawl? Is it something meant to be worn as clothing, or something else that you’ve flung over your shoulder? Are you using “the plaid” as a noun or as an adjective here? I think I’m missing something in translation, though we’re both speaking English!


    1. Ah – here plaid can definitely be a thing – a blanket or a shawl . . . or a shawl-like blanket such as the one I’m wearing here – as well as an adjective describing the surface design of a particular kind of fabric.


  3. Cairngorms! I had forgotten I have 2 beauties I bought when I lived in Scotland and someone just gave me a gorgeous, huge, red shawl and this will be perfect for it! Thank you again for jogging my memory of things I have and need to be Thankful for. And Thankful for you, awaiting your book. WILL buy :)


  4. Your Cairngorm brooch is beautiful. Its construction reminds me of Ojo de Dios (“Eye of God”) weavings made by the Huichol Indians in Mexico and the Aymara in Bolivia.


  5. I am certainly going to miss Friday Mornings, Kate! In fact yesterday being Thursday and Thanksgiving here I thought—“Wait a minute I didn’t get a pattern on Friday and then realized it was Thanksgiving not Saturday and Friday hadn’t even come along yet!” All of the patterns and yarn have been nothing but a lot of fun full of great quality yarn! I am looking forward to the book. Thank you all!


  6. Thank you so much for this wonderful book. This morning I had virtual oatcakes and crowdie for breakfast, followed by a Highland walk and all before 8 am Pacific Standard Time in Nanaimo BC. Sisko the standard poodle says it’s time to dish out the real breakfast and that he would like to live like Bruce. He says to tell Bruce we have lost gloves here but he never gives them more than a disdainful sniff.


  7. Dear Kate,

    Thank you for your beautiful book, everything about it is amazing and beautiful! My husband and I honeymooned in the western islands and highlands 5.5 years ago and fell in love with Scotland. We have a return trip planned for the summer of 2017. This time, we are staying in the Shetland Islands and Orkneys.

    I hope to meet knitters and sheep and other fiber people.

    Keep up the great work!

    Warmly, Jennifer



  8. Kate, you are a true inspiration and it is through your love of wool and design that I am gaining strength when I face times of ill health. I loved the club and would join another one without question. Looking forward to the book


  9. Please explain how you wrapped the plaid that you are wearing in these pictures. Size of fabric would be helpful. My husband is a rigid heddle weaver and I see this as a great project for his loom.

    Didn’t join your club but plan to buy the book as soon as it is released to the public. Have so enjoyed your last two books.


  10. Hi Kate,
    I’m new to your blog – discovered by accident- and love it! I live just up the road from you in Invergarry and am a painter, crafty, knitting, sewing person, so am looking forward to finding lots of exciting projects!


  11. This nice Cairngorm made me take a new look att your tutorials. I found the decorative buttons. They will be a favorite and I e-mailed a link to a friend. Thank you!!


  12. Love the Cairngorm brooch- the construction is so similar to the Dorset Buttons which I have been researching since I moved to this lovely county a few months ago. I am interested in the way your brooch has a solid back – Dorset buttons are made using a ring as the foundation [I now have a stash of variously sized brass curtain rings] Thank you for yet another fascinating post!


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