NB: Throughout this post I’ve referred to Kate Davies as ‘Davies’ rather than ‘Kate’ as the later sounded too personal.
I have been meaning to knit a Kate Davies design for years. So many of the popular, instantly recognisable modern knitting patterns have originated from her needles, including o w l s, Ursula, Manu, Peerie Flooers, Deco and many more. I knew a few of these designs before I associated them all with one talented lady and it wasn’t until I discovered Davies’ blog that they all came together.
I am forever thankful that I did come across Davies’ blog when I did. After a job that hadn’t worked out, a couple of other things, and being put on anti-anxiety medicine, I’m not going to lie – I thought I had it pretty tough. Then I started reading Davies’ blog and gave myself a thorough talking to. This lady had had a stroke at the age of 36 and had had to re-learn all manner of simple tasks like standing, walking, and doing her hair. What the hell did I have to complain about? If she could re-learn to do all of that, I could learn to live with anxiety. It was a definite turning point for me. I wasn’t immediately better, but I felt like I could get better, if I put my mind to it. Ever since, I’ve followed Davies’ blog, her pattern releases and long, slow (but very determined) recovery.
But I’ve never knit one of her patterns. Until now.
At last year’s Bendigo Sheep and Wool Show, I fell in love with a hank of undyed Merino-Bond yarn in a beautiful grey from Karoa Fibres in New South Wales. When I asked what the ply was, the lady replied: ‘Oh, like a thick five or a thin eight ply’ – exactly the description of the yarn needed for Deco. There was also enough meterage for Deco, another plus in it’s favour. It was, however, more than just the practical considerations that made it the perfect yarn choice. That it was also local, undyed, and grown and processed by a small farmer made it seem wholly appropriate for use in a Kate Davies Design garment. Davies is a vocal proponent of local yarns (most notably the Jamieson & Smith range), loves playing with natural colours (seen in Sheep Carousel and rams and yowes), and is a champion of smaller producers.
I loved the yarn so much, I wore it around neck like a cowl for the rest of the Show, burying my nose in it and inhaling it’s intensely sheepy smell. My love of the yarn, and the pattern, only continued with I started to knit. As with all Kate Davies Designs, Deco is meticulously written, with more than the usual amount of pages for a cardigan pattern. In deference to such detail, I followed the pattern to the letter.*
From the bottom ribbing through the densely knit body to the short row sleeve caps, the yarn suit the pattern perfectly and vice versa. The natural yarn and tight gauge of the pattern resulted in a dense fabric that gives the impression it can handle whatever weather and life can throw at it.
I thoroughly enjoyed the process of making the garment and adore the finished product; not just as a piece of clothing, but as an embodiment of the virtues of someone I greatly admire. To be terribly cheesy, it is a fan letter to one of my favourite designers; and I’ll wear and cherish it for a very long time.
*A little bit to my detriment. Davies has a fairly straight up and down figure and designs (naturally) for her own body type. I have a very curvy figure and should really learn to modify patterns so they fit me properly.