About

My name is Kate Davies. I am a historian, writer, and designer of knitwear based in Edinburgh, Scotland. On February 1st 2010, at the age of 36, I suffered a major ischemic stroke and was paralysed on my left side. While recovering, I received letters, cards and gifts from correspondents all over the world.

While some of my correspondents were already known to me in person, the majority were people whom I had never met, but who ‘knew’ me through the words and pictures on my blog. Some of my correspondents were knitters, some were walkers, some were readers with shared interests in textiles, eighteenth-century history, film, design, photography, allotment gardening, and the Scottish landscape. All kindly wanted to lend me their support and good wishes at what was an incredibly difficult time. My correspondents wrote to me about their gardens, their friends and families, books they had read, exhibitions they had seen, the places that they loved, and their personal experiences of loss or sickness. Their writing was funny, uplifting, moving, political, intimate, smart, and always heartening. The material objects that accompanied their words were thoughtfully selected or handmade: all were full of beauty and personal significance. A delicious Swiss biscuit, a packet of jelly beans, vegetable seeds, an audio recording of a familiar walk, a magazine article, a pair of handknitted socks, a bookmark, a crime novel, a bolt of fabric, some buttons — all of these things were sent with genuine love and care. Through the packages I received in my hospital bed each day, I was buoyed up on a wave of good wishes and came to feel part of a network of personal understanding and shared feeling that crossed oceans, private differences, and cultural boundaries. My correspondence made a tremendous difference to the process of recovery and now figures centrally in my post-stroke life. The letters and things I received (and indeed am still receiving) are a testimony to the importance of friendship. They suggest to me how strong personal connections can be made, captured, and consolidated by what seem to be insignificant material tokens: a few strands of plaited yarn; a tea bag; a copy of Viz. But so much of value can be marked in the exchange of such small things. Through this site, I provide a documentary record and archive of those valuable tokens.

You can scroll through the entire archive by following the arrows at the bottom right of the front page; filter items in the archive by category; or view items in the archive by searching for them by keyword (using the search form below).

14 comments on “About”

  1. Hello Kate,
    I am somewhat new to your blog, however, I first learned of you through your owl sweater pattern(which I intend to knit up once the weather cools down a bit out here in California). Recently, just the other day, I started reading your blog and feel compelled to say simply this– you are an incredible girl! Amazing! Your writing is exquisite; I am so moved by your account of this incredible journey you’ve been on. Please continue to be well and inspire. You are truly a gem.
    Thank you. We send our healing thoughts and wishes to you.
    Kelly Burke(& kitties).

  2. Hi Kate,
    I love your designs and enjoy your writing, but its your determination to make the best recovery has really inspired me! I’m not much older than you and have fibromyalgia; it causes pain and fatigue. I have good days, terrible days and days in between. Sometimes when I seem to be making progress it flares up again. What was doable one day, may not be doable the next; it is all so unpredictable. Having read about your walks and knowing that outdoors exercise is so much better for one psychologically, now I aim to walk or cycle a short distance every day. To start with what I can do and build up gradually and hopefully one day I shall be able to walk up a small hill without being wiped out for several days after. And because I feel better when I finish a craft project and because a backlog of unfinished objects just reminds me of my lack of energy and lethargy, I’m concentrating on one unfinished project at a time and finishing it before I start anything new.

    Thank you Kate! I know you will not write in detail about the bad days, it’s your attitude and what you do on your good days that is inspirational!

  3. what a lovely blog…and how inspiring. Thank you for sharing with us.

  4. I just read your blog for the first time tonight. I was familiar with your beautiful owls sweater, but I knew nothing of its designer. A friend directed me to your blog, and I read your amazing story. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

  5. Hi Kate,
    I’ve been following your blog for some time now and always find myself uplifted and edified by the things you share. Today, for some reason, I feel compelled to send you a bit of healthy mojo. So that little twinkle you saw or felt that made you feel a little bit better, that was me. Please know that even when you aren’t blogging there are people who are thinking about you and wish you well. You are an inspiration to us all! Thank you!

  6. I love your designs in knitwear! I really like the deco sweater. I can’t imagine how frustrating it would be to be 36years old and have a stroke. I am 55 years old and work as a live-in caregiver for my 83-year-old parents–If I had a stroke, it would create alot of hardship not only myself but my parents as well. Anyway, you keep on keepin on! I have taken to designing and knitting my own sweaters out of frustration–they never seem to fit and the patterns were full of mistakes…even those designed by some of the more well-known sweater designers…Gads!

  7. I love your owl sweater. I don’t knit but would love one. Ever thought of selling them? Your talent is amazing….please let me know.

  8. Hi Kate
    I have come across your remarkable blog tonight after a random google related to knitting. It is mindblowing to read your story & struggles over the past 16 months. All the best to you for a continued recovery & fulfilling life. Watched that little film of you walking the mountain in Ireland. Go girl!
    Really love your ‘decor’ cardigan –I hope to knit it one day.

  9. Hi Kate,
    I’ve just been exploring your website for the first time, which I found through Shiela Dixon’s Handknit website. I’ve found it all very interesting but I don’t understand how (or if I need to) subscribe to your Textisles section; I’m very new to Blogs, etc. Can you explain, please?
    I like your designs and will probably invest in one or two and you take some wonderful photos.
    You are an example of a point of view that I often raise with friends (usually more my own age-group, so, much older than you are) that the way forward us as we get older (and maybe, sadly) less active, is to engage with what is on offer on the Net. This falls on deaf ears quite often as those particular folk lead full lives and don’t see the need for this ‘other dimension’. However, I will keep chipping away as your experience is such confirmation. I am so glad to hear it has been such an uplifting one for you.
    Congratualtions on what you’re achieving!

  10. Hello Kate,

    I fell into your blog while doing research. I write articles for Machine Quilting Unlimited, and am looking for information on the history of darning. Would you happen to know why it’s called “Darning”? Thanks!

  11. I too have had the same experience as you but different. I was 44 when I had my ischemia and my daughter has just recovered from hers . Mine in my Colon ,hers in her Brain. She is just 17. I hope to share with her your beautiful and compelling story and hope to find more healing from your comments. Thank you for your bravery.

    thesnowangel12066

  12. Dear Kate!
    I just recently found your blog,
    I like your blog very much, I am a knitter, could not live without it! Your blog has a “feeling” that I love, a feeling of wind, sun, knitting, beauty, life at it´s best and a dog 🙂
    Today I read about your new skirt, very nice! But I allso noticed your bag – wauw – I would really like one, so will you tell me where I can buy it. I am from Denmark so I would proberbly have to buy it over the internet.
    Have a nice sunday 🙂 Tina

  13. I just read your post from 1 year after your stroke. I was 47 when I had my stroke,14 yrs. ago. Your words resonated in me- I am a quilter and a knitter, I taught nursing at the time of my stroke and I have 3 daughters. My stroke altered my life- surprisingly for the better in some important ways. I am still recovering, a little more each year. After abandoning my quilts and yarn for 2 yrs. I made my way back to them. Thanks for sharing your story.

  14. Everyday and every way knitting opens my dreams and mind. It’s usually kind enough to let sweaters flow through my fingers.


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