Kate Davies Designs (KDD) was established by Kate Davies in 2010, when a stroke at the age of 36 ended her career as a literary academic. While learning to live with the effects of her stroke, Kate supported herself by designing digital patterns for hand-knitting, established an independent publishing company, and began to produce books that combined her skills as author, editor and designer.
Since publishing her first knitting title, Colours of Shetland in 2012, Kate has produced twenty-three books under the KDD, Makadu and Make // Mark imprints. These titles combine Kate’s research with individual patterns (Yokes (2014); Bluestockings (2021)); explore the human stories of Scotland’s landscape and built heritage alongside collections of designs (Inspired by Islay (2017); West Highland Way (2018); Argyll’s Secret Coast (2022)); support and amplify the work of other contemporary designers (Book of Haps (2016); Milarrochy Heids (2018); Warm Hands, (2020) Colour Moves (2020)); explore ideas of work and creative practice within the broader context of Scotland’s regional cultures (Shetland Oo (2016) People Make Glasgow (2020)); discuss a wide range of topics concerning design and disability (Handywoman, 2018) and explore positive and inclusive approaches to creativity (Wheesht: Creative Making in Uncertain Times (2019). From its beginnings in difficult circumstances, Kate is proud to have built a sustainable and successful creative business completely from scratch.
From its one-woman beginnings, KDD has grown into a company which now encompasses many different aspects of publishing, design, and creative practice here in the west of Scotland. Whether it’s a pullover or a poem, everything we do is ideas-led: we like making things, and we like thinking about making. Our work combines the critical with the creative, the thought-provoking with the practical. In 2015 we began to develop our own brands of yarn for hand knitting and in 2017 launched our own knitwear line, championing sustainable manufacturing and locally-produced yarns.
Kate’s husband, Tom Barr, is responsible for the beautiful photography you’ll find here, as well as other matters involving graphics, imagery, film, sounds, and production here at KDD. Tom was a research scientist before he discovered his creative talents – a background that his Ootlier moniker reflects.
As well as photographing knitwear, working on documentary projects, and creating the graphic design and layout of our books, Tom’s art practice explores different ways of seeing (and listening to) the Scottish landscape.
As Ootlier (his photographer’s moniker) Tom produces his own zine and prints of his work are available in the KDD shop.
Maylin Scott handles our customer service, manages our enthusiastic pool of test and sample knitters, and supports Kate in the creative development of our projects. Maylin’s blithespirit on Ravelry – her range of projects is very inspiring!
Talented knitter, Claire Leach, manages the KDD Ravelry group with warmth and aplomb. You’ll find Claire on Ravelry as soupdragon – pop over and say hello!
Our friend, fellow knitter and talented Glasgow businesswoman Fenella Pole, works with us, making us laugh, and modelling our designs.
Bobby and Bran are the final, indispensable members of the KDD team. Our fun-loving labradors enjoy the Scottish landscape just as much as we do, and encourage us to get outdoors whenever there’s an opportunity.
Scottish design, Scottish making
We are a small yarn producer, working with skilled manufacturers around Scotland, and a small publisher, producing books in Glasgow under our own imprints. We are proud to support and promote Scotland’s creative, design and making practices in many different contexts.
In 2016, KDD was honoured to receive the UK Microbusiness of the Year award from the Federation of Small Business. We’ve been described by the Times (June 20, 2018) as “a pattern for others to follow” because of our productivity and innovation as a publisher and also won an award for Best Use of Social Media from Business Women Scotland. Tom’s work on Shetland Oo was shortlisted for the Make UK photographic prize in 2018. In 2019 KDD received the FSB Scotland award for Business and Product Innovation for our Coracle project and was voted Blog of the Year at the British Craft Awards. In 2019, the blanket designed by Kate and Felicity Ford received a best practice award from International Women’s Day. In 2019, Kate’s work was selected by Kendal Mountain Literature Festival’s “Open Mountain” competition for its exploration of ideas of inclusion and exclusion in nature writing.
“KDD is a small business, but its size does not detract from its firm commitment to gender equality and larger issues of diversity” (International Women’s Day).
KDD is a company that strives to be affirming, welcoming, and inclusive. We are proud signatories of the Scottish Business Pledge and business supporters of BIPOC in fiber, standing in solidarity with those wishing to effect long lasting structural change in our industry. As an employer, as a manufacturer and as a retailer, transparency, and accountability are at the heart of our ethos. From documentary photography to collections of essays and designs, our range of projects and creative collaborations are explicitly and intentionally anti-racist. We commit to evaluate our business to ensure that we remain welcoming to all members of our community. We will listen and seek to put things right if we don’t meet your expectations.
The best way to see what we are up to is by following this blog. To be the first to know about our new projects and products, please sign up for our newsletter.
If you need help with a pattern, please pop into our Ravelry group, check the relevant discussion thread, and post a query (if you’ve not found an answer!). For all other customer queries, contact Maylin at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are a bookshop or yarn store and would like to become an approved retailer of our titles, please contact: email@example.com
If you have an idea for a creative collaboration, an invitation, commission, or general business proposal, please contact Kate: firstname.lastname@example.org
(please note that Kate is not currently accepting any speaking invitations, whether digitally or in-person)
For press enquiries: email@example.com
The KDD shop
If you are interested in our books or yarn, knitwear or prints, just head on over to the shop.