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 and designer. As well as creating enduringly popular knitwear collections like Yokes and West Highland Way, and supporting and amplifying the work of other designers in projects like The Book of Haps and Warm Hands, Kate has written about her experience of stroke and disability in Handywoman, and produced an accessible and inclusive guide to creative practice in Wheesht.
From its one-woman beginnings, KDD has grown into a small, successful creative company encompassing many different aspects of design and manufacturing 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, KDD Originals, championing the best local yarns and mills.
Kate’s husband, Tom Barr, is responsible for the beautiful photography you’ll find here, as well as other matters involving graphics, imagery, print, production (and occasionally sounds) here at KDD. Tom was a research scientist before he discovered his creative talents - a background that his Ootlier moniker reflects. Tom produces limited-edition prints of his photography, as well as a popular annual calendar, and his work has its own section in the shop. You can explore a recent exhibition of Tom's work here.
Superb knitter and spreadsheet whizz, Melanie Patton has all the answers. Mel manages our operations, handles customer service, and generally keeps everything shipshape here at KDD HQ.
Claire Leach (on the left) loves singing as well as knitting (sometimes both at the same time). She manages the KDD Ravelry group with warmth and aplomb.
As well as handling our inventory, Jane Hunter is a talented artist, creating beautiful work which invites you to look at Scotland’s landscape with fresh eyes. (You can find Jane’s work in our Inspired by Islay book, and read more about her here.)
Sam Kilday manages the KDD warehouse alongside the trade / wholesale side of our operation. Sam's a man who can turn his hand to anything, and his multi-disciplinary background in the creative industries is an asset on many KDD projects.
Fellow knitter and Glasgow businesswoman, Fenella Pole, works with us, making us laugh, and modelling our designs
Bruce and Bobby - our fun-loving labradors - are the final, indispensable member of the KDD team, encouraging us all to get outside to enjoy the Scottish landscape whenever there's an opportunity.
An award-winning company
In 2016, KDD was honoured to be awarded the accolade of UK Microbusiness of the Year by the Federation of Small Business & Worldpay. We’ve been described by the Times (June 20, 2018)as “a pattern for others to follow” because of our productivity and innovation and also won an award for Best Use of Social Media from Business Women Scotland. In 2018, Tom’s photography for Shetland Oo was shortlisted for the EEF photographic prize and in February 2019 KDD was awarded the FSB Scotland award for Business and Product Innovation for our Coracle project. Last year, the blanket designed by Kate and Felicity Ford (celebrating the lives and work of 30 creative women, and depicted above) received a best practice award from International Women’s Day.
Scottish Business pledge and inclusivity commitment
“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).
At KDD we believe in creating a business that is welcoming, respectful and that positively promotes inclusivity. We are proud signatories of the Scottish Business Pledge, making a formal commitment to ensure that fairness, opportunity and innovation develop hand in hand in Scotland. We are business supporters of BIPOC in fiber and stand in solidarity with those who, like us, wish to effect long lasting structural change in our industry. Our not-for-profit MAKE / MARK imprint is specifically designed to open doors to new and underrepresented industry talent, mentoring authors and designers through the process of independent publishing. Our open design competitions are designed to support and celebrate the work of BIPOC, and other underrepresented designers, resulting in inclusive projects like Warm Hands. As an employer, as a manufacturer and as a retailer, transparency, accountability and inclusivity are at the heart of our ethos and play a central role in all current endeavours. From documentary photography to collections of essays and designs, the range of projects and creative collaborations undertaken at KDD are explicitly and intentionally anti-racist. We commit to evaluate our business to ensure that we remain inclusive to all members of our community. We will listen and seek to put things right if we don’t meet your expectations.
If you'd like to become an approved stockist of our books, please contact Sam: firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out what we are up to on the regularly updated KDD blog, and hear about new product releases and upcoming projects in our monthly newsletter (sign up for 10% off your first order!) You might also like to join our welcoming Ravelry group, or follow us on twitter (@KDDandco).