by Kate Davies

Paralysed by a stroke at the age of 36, Kate Davies' world turned upside-down. Forced to change direction, Kate took a radical new creative path. Handywoman tells this story.

This is not a book about Kate's triumph over adversity. Rather, it is her account of the ordinary activities and everyday objects that stroke and disability made her see differently. From braiding hair for the first time to learning how to knit again; from the lessons of a working-class creative childhood to the support of the contemporary knitting community; from the transformative effects of good design to developing a new identity as a disabled walker; in this engaging series of essays, Kate describes how the experience of brain injury allowed her to build a new kind of handmade life. Part memoir, part personal celebration of the power of making, in Handywoman Kate reclaims disability as in itself a form of practical creativity. 

Kate Davies is an award-winning knitwear designer and author writing on many topics from disability and design to textile history and women’s history. She’s published nine books about hand-knitting, lives on the edge of the Scottish Highlands and is inspired by her local landscape every day. 

Book contents


A handmade childhood


All in my head


Talk to the hand






Beetles, hares and tortoises


Discovering interdependence


Knitting community


The allover


Design for all


Are you fully recovered?


"Handywoman is about what it means to knit a sweater. About the idea of walking when one finds oneself in a body that no longer walks. About learning how to dance when half of your body barely moves at all. About just how difficult it is to accept the self after major physical change. About the resourcefulness and joy of an ordinary working-class childhood. About love and friendship. About a dog. About finding oneself, as a maker, among an incredible group of makers. About hands. About the brain. About hair and identity. About extraordinary tools and objects. About life not turning out quite as you expected. About working towards a better life precisely because of its unexpected nature. About understanding limitation as a creative resource rather than as an impediment.  Handywoman is about hearing a poem that chimes so strongly with your own experiences that it seems to speak to you directly. It’s about finding a sense of place and purpose among some remarkable women and their remarkable islands. It’s about living life creatively, and being supported by an extraordinary creative community. And its about thinking about how good design might contribute to the development of a more inclusive, a more human, public sphere."

from the Introduction to Handywoman

 © 2018 Makadu Press

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by Kate Davies