introducing My Place

You may (or may not) remember that last year we organised one of our regular design competitions. The theme was “My Place” and the idea was that competition entrants design a shawl, hap, wrap, scarf, cowl, snood, kerchief, or other neckwear accessory in Milarrochy Tweed inspired by their “place” in the world – however they wished to interpret that phrase. We offered yarn support for the competition, and were thrilled to receive over 50 wonderful competition entries.

The KDD team had a very hard time when it came to judging the competition, but, after several discussions about our long-long list, and then our short list, we were eventually all very happy with the final selection of beautiful patterns, that had been created by designers from all over the world. The whole point of our design competitions is to support and amplify new talent, and to bring new designers to the fore and, as with our previous competitions (Warm Hands and Milarrochy Heids) the team was bowled over by the quality of the submissions, many of which had been produced by first-time designers.

The pandemic has made this a very weird time to be running a creative publishing and design company, but I’ve repeatedly stressed just how lucky we feel to be able to maintain the business at all given what many other small enterprises are going through right now. We are, indeed, extraordinarily lucky, but we’ve also had to manage a great deal of uncertainty over the past year with supply chain issues, production delays, and having to respond to very rapid and varied changes in policy and protocol. For us, like most other small enterprises, Covid has meant cancelling some projects, putting others on hold, and generally trying to find creative and viable ways of changing the parameters of our activities, simply to ensure that what we do remains possible. Things like photographing and producing a collaborative print collection are particularly tricky: because of restrictions here in Scotland, we can’t travel to locations beyond our local area, and, as individuals and colleagues, we’re maintaining a strict policy of completely separate working households – which means that all photographic shoots are conducted with just Tom and myself. This means no models (apart from yours truly) and no assistants. I’m not complaining (though you may be tired of seeing me in so many shoots!) but I certainly miss working with our always-refreshing pal Fenella, as well as talented models like Mimi and Samira who feature in Warm Hands.

Anyway, all of this is a prelude to saying that, due to these and other related issues, My Place is of necessity taking a rather different form than Warm Hands and Milarrochy Heids. That’s to say that, rather than producing a print collection, we’ll be introducing each designer and their individual patterns separately here, on the blog, every Wednesday for the next few weeks, as we move into spring. I really enjoy collaborative projects, and initially felt very disappointed not to be getting my teeth into planning and organising everything that goes into producing a brand new collection. That said, as time has gone on from our making this decision, I feel very excited about doing things a bit differently. Indeed, I feel it befitting to the particular theme of this project that this new digital format will give each designer the opportunity to introduce their contribution, and talk, in their own words, about their place, in a much more expansive and discursive way than would be possible within the tight confines of a print pattern collection.

So each Wednesday for the next few weeks, you’ll meet a new designer, here, and get to learn a little about them, their inspiration, their process, and most importantly, their place. Sitting here, in my own place – this place of hills, and lichen, and sheep, and robins, and (at the moment) foggy skies and snow, I’m really looking forward to expanding my horizons, virtually traveling around the world, learning about some other lives and landscapes, and hearing about how responses to different places has informed some wonderful designs.

So I hope you’ll join me, and the talented contributors to this project here, on the KDD blog each Wednesday, as together we explore their place.

And while reflecting on other places, I’d like to wish a very happy inauguration day to all our friends across the pond.