the working year

We’ve had a lot going on in 2018!

We began the year with West Highland Way.


I created twelve designs for this book, and I also enjoyed the writing I produced for it. Together amounting to the same length as a novella, the West Highland Way essays cover a series of topics that you might not expect to find discussed in a book of knitting patterns — from the representation of Rob Roy McGregor, to the development of hydroelectricity in the Scottish Highlands; from the wonderful Gaelic poetry of Donnchadh Bàn Mac an t-Saoir (Duncan Ban MacIntyre) to the surprising story of the Ben Nevis Observatory. I loved writing these pieces and have had some nice feedback about them – I’m just glad you like reading what I write as well as knitting what I design!


West Highland Way is a book about the landscape in which I live but it is a project close to home in another sense as well – encapsulating what I enjoy so much about our life: that I’m able to explore different ideas as a designer, a maker, and a writer – that Tom is able to share in that process through his photography – and that we in turn get to share the results of those explorations together in books like this.

(Highland Rogue)

I can’t ask for much more, really.

I think my design mojo was seriously reinvigorated this year by our new yarn – Milarrochy Tweed.

With Milarrochy Tweed, I produced another small collection – Shore

And edited a book of hats by a brilliant group of designers, whose work really shows the variety and versatility of this interesting yarn.

If you are looking for a copy of Milarrochy Heids the new print run is imminent, and the book will be back in stock in the shop toward the end of next week (though we won’t be able to start shipping copies until the New Year).

I think Tom’s photography makes Milarrochy Heids a particularly stunning book, and, working on his own projects, he’s had a very creative and productive year as well. Tom published Range – a thoughtful and meditative exploration of our local area . . .

And Latitude, in which he explored the making and experiencing of landscape in several different ways.

I know he particularly enjoyed making and binding the hand-made books produced as part of the Latitude project: a particularly Tom-like mingling combination of art and craft that I suspect he’ll be exploring more of (should I be worried about the appearance of mysterious cardboard tubes and strange talk of integrating me into a camera obscura?)

Tom’s projects mark one of several different directions KDD has taken this year. We’ve moved the business to a bigger space, and have also welcomed the amazing Jane to the KDD team – who, as well as looking after the books and yarn you order has done some sterling work as, ahem, top heid.

I’ve been working with great suppliers around the country developing new knitwear lines:


and most significantly, sweaters.

I’ve also branched out and done some different business-related things, sharing my expertise with other organisations, and giving a few talks. The most significant of these was the Federation of Small Business annual dinner, where I was very proud to share the bill with Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

May I just say that as well as being a model of calm, intelligent political leadership (that stands in refreshingly stark contrast to the current shambolic state of things in Westminster), the first minister also has a fantastic sense of humour and a mum who is a knitter?

If I look nervous – that’s of course because I was.

But one project has really dominated this year for me.

I did not produce this book for any sort of personal gain. I wrote it because I wanted to: because my experience of stroke has taught me something; because I had something to say and because I hoped others, who found themselves in similar situations of ill-health and disability might find it useful. Without a doubt, writing Handywoman was one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my working life. But publishing it has certainly been the most rewarding. Your responses to Handywoman have meant an awful lot to me this year. Thankyou for reading my book.

I’d meant this post to have a retrospective glance at some more personal 2018 stuff as well – but I think I’ll stop there for now!