A few days ago I received an email from a publisher, KDD, based on the west coast of Scotland. The owner of the company, Kate Davies, had read my essays about Kerry of Kilfinan and wanted to know if I would be willing to write a short essay about the Kames Gunpowder Mill for a book she is compiling about Cowal. She told me how much they would pay and stated without prompting that I would retain copyright and could use the finished article as I saw fit – and that included selling it again.
To demonstrate just how genuine they are, they offered to send me example books from their catalogue – which seems to be mostly about knitting and crafts. Kate made no bones about the focus of her business: it is primarily aimed at people who enjoy knitting and crafting, and the books are distributed in a book club type of model.
These are the three books they sent me, and I must say I am impressed both by the quality and the content… although, I can’t promise to take up knitting any time soon!
Wool, Textiles, Work
Photographs by Tom Barr
Words by Kate Davies
Wool – or in Shetlandic, Oo – has for centuries figured centrally in island life. Hardy, colourful, characterful sheep have adapted over millennia to a challenging climate, and Shetlanders have always put their fine fleeces to good use in beautiful, distinctive textiles ranging from woven tweeds to Fairisle handknits. From craft to creative enterprises, wool remains at the heart of many island industries today, and this collaborative documentary project reveals the many different kinds of work that oo supports. In these pages, you’ll meet the fascinating graders, breeders, tanners, artists, designers, knitters, weavers, hand spinners, knitwear manufacturers and retailers who, in so many ways, have made their lives in oo. Photographed by Tom Barr, and with accompanying essays and profiles written by Kate Davies, this book is produced in celebration of the vital contemporary work of Shetland wool.
Edinburgh: Kate Davies Designs (2019)
Kate Davies and Nicole Pohl (eds)
This book’s first section features different perspectives on the history of socks and stockings, from expert contributors like Susan North (curator of 18th-century fashion at the V&A) and Sonja Bargielowska (of John Arbon worsted spinners). In the book’s second section, essays about creative 18th-century women such as Mary Delany and Phillis Wheatley Peters are accompanied by contemporary toe-up patterns for socks and stockings. Among our bluestocking-inspired designs, you’ll find openwork and texture, stripes, chevrons, stranded colourwork, and a go-to sock and stocking recipe named for talented 18th-century classicist (and knitter) Elisabeth Carter. Setting top tips about knitting toe-up socks alongside an exploration of historic dyestuffs, and bringing groundbreaking women writers together with accessible, wearable design, this lavishly illustrated volume offers an exciting in-the-round combination of material history, contemporary making and early feminism
Edinburgh: Kate Davies Designs (2021)
People Make Glasgow
Portrait of a Creative City
Tom Barr, Kate Davies and Sam Kilday
What makes a city? Glasgow is a place that has frequently remade itself and is being made right now by some extraordinarily creative people. In this book, you’ll meet the diverse contemporary makers, community ventures and thoughtful small enterprises who together make up Glasgow’s atelier economy, from jewellery designers to soft-drinks manufacturers, from watchmakers to weavers and hairdressers. Contemporary Glasgow is a place that’s being made by many creative hands and many different acts of imaginative labour. This book celebrates that work.
Edinburgh: Kate Davies Designs (2020)