Back in 2015, when Tom left academia and began working with me, I took a decision to only design with my own yarns. The reasons for this should be obvious: I’d taken a huge risk developing and investing in Buachaille. Buachaille was what I hoped would enable us to shift from a single-person enterprise to a business that was able to support two people, and so I focused all my design-energies on producing work with this yarn. Thus, for the past three years, as the business has continued to grow, I’ve acquired and tried very few new yarns: because I have virtually zero stash, I sometimes think I am an anomalous designer-knitter – but then the lack of variety on my yarn shelves is also symptomatic of the fact that I absolutely love working with what I produce myself (particularly, at the moment, with Milarrochy Tweed) That said, now and again I do have a yen to try something new: I love the yarns produced by my friends at Fyberspates, for example, and last year really enjoyed producing several designs (like Myrtle) with Cumulus – a yarn with a very different character to those which I produce myself.
This year I have felt the yarn-y yen again, and it’s been coupled with a renewed interest in what my fellow small producers are doing here in Scotland. I’ve always thought of the business of yarn and knitting much more in terms of community than competition, and I genuinely feel that we all benefit when we support each other, talk to each other, and engage in things collaboratively. I’ve been working on a few projects this year that have really brought this home to me (particularly with Birlinn Yarn, and New Lanark about which I’ll say more in coming weeks). I have also recently enjoyed knitting with some great Scottish yarns that are new to me – such as those produced by Uist Wool.
I visited Uist Wool earlier this year and was really impressed and inspired by what they were doing. I left with some lovely DK yarn, and, being in the midst of a productive design-roll involving cropped sweater styles which began with Carbeth – immediately knit myself Doocot.
Unlike Carbeth, Doocot is worked top down, at a much lighter gauge, and its raglan shaping is a little more conventional. It’s similar to Carbeth in that it is knitted wide and short, and it is also a design that is perfectly happy to be photographed by Carbeth Loch, with arms outstretched, accompanied by obligatory swan friends. . .
Like Carbeth, Doocot is a really simple knit, and its loose, easy shape means it is great to pop on over layers.
Doocot’s top-down design means that you can try the garment on as you go, and be sure to knit both body and sleeves to a length that you know will suit you. I love wearing cropped pullovers, but I know this isn’t the case for everyone.
When buying yarn for Doocot, it’s probably good to bear in mind that everything produced by Uist Wool is a limited edition, spun from particular fleece batches and blends (so you’ll need to ensure you have enough before you start). All these yarns are generally spun with the same distinctive woollen-spun character, to very similar specifications and yardage, with the result that they all work well together and can be very easily substituted. I knit my sample in Curracag (which is a fabulous, nubbly, squishy blend of Shetland and Scottish merino) but any of Uist Wool’s dk range (including the amazing Tuath in which the fleeces of 10 distinct breeds of North Atlantic sheep have been blended) would work equally well for this design.
I found Curracag as lovely to work with as it is to wear – a true woolly wool!
So why Doocot? Well, doocots (dove cotes) house doves and pigeons, and there are loads of them around Glasgow and its environs. These ad-hoc, self-built, completely unpretentious urban bird houses are another form of vernacular architecture that I have a deep fondness for. (If you’d like to see what is so great about Glasgow’s doocots, please immediately explore this brilliant site ) But as well as housing doves and pigeons, in Scots a doocot can refer to any cosy compartment or room. To me, its a word that immediately conveys a sense of comfort and enclosure. . . . just like a hand knit sweater.
So if you’d like to knit yourself a cosy Doocot, you’ll find the pattern now available on Ravelry.
Happy knitting! x