Hello, I’m currently working on a project and although I am in the beginning stages I thought it might be interesting to document so I can work through my process and give some background to my thinking.
I’m sure everyone who ever reads here knows or is aware of what a Hap is – a traditional Shetland shawl with a square middle, 4 trapezium borders and a lace edging. Something women in Shetland wore for centuries – often as a coat, and to wrap their babies.
So even me, a child born in Shetland in 1990, had a Hap. It was made for my sister by a lady who was friendly to my mam’s side of the family in Northmavine. Two of the same Hap (maybe many more – it might have been ‘the’ Hap she made for people) were made for us, the first one for my cousin Aileen – which was also used for her sister Nicola then another for my sister Marianne and in turn used for me.
Anyway, lately as happens every now and then it feels Haps are very ‘in’ Gudruns Hansel hap has been redeveloped, with more colours and sizes added, The Woolly Thistle – one of J&S’ stockists in the USA is currently running a Hap Kal and I was interviewed for that which isn’t out yet. I think (initially) it is only for members of that Kal but anyway working on what I needed for that interview ignited in me to think about my hap:
So I decided I am going to recreate the Hap, me and my sisters one no longer exists (Mam dumped it – it was full of moth holes and mam, correctly, had no idea I would ever have an extreme interest in Shetland Textiles, its ok – we have gotten over it.. just) but Aileen/Nicolas one does and I have got it from my Auntie Nette to directly reference. Due to its patterned middle it would be considered a ‘fancy’ hap. I did try to find the centre motif in any of my books but I wasn’t successful so I have managed to chart it and recreate it myself.
The border is similar to this Patons pattern (Kate Davies book of Haps contains a whole chapter on this pattern) but its slightly different (the top of the trees are different). The edging again is not the same as that pattern. It is obviously something that she (Lizzie) put together from different elements. Something Shetland knitters have been doing forever! Im going to made it in Jumper Weight (4ply) in orange (shade 1285) and I’m going to focus on making it look as much as the original while also making it as simple to make as possible.
I have charted the edging and am working on the border chart, I don’t do much lace but I can do the basic stuff and there is nothing overly complicated here. My next plan is how to construct it, I need to knit the centre first anyway so I’m going to work on that while I ruminate about the rest.
I have always struggled with where I am in the timeline of Shetland Textile history, I am old enough to remember the very end of a certain way of life here and also to be part of the time which had a rejection of that ‘old fashioned’ life. It’s then all circled back again to where we value and long for that time. I have worked in the industry now for over a decade, have collected vintage Shetland textiles for just as long and studied textiles at college – but I still feel unqualified to speak or that my opinion isn’t valued. There is a great deal of cultural appropriation that happens around Shetland knitting and we are expected to be grateful. Well, I struggle with that notion.
I’m not here because I come from generations of knitters passing down patterns but actually, I come from generations of people like me who just lived their life and some happened to knit. And that’s ok – I came to Shetland Textiles because it is my vocation, not something that was forced on me – in fact, it was the opposite. At the end of the day, this is my culture, it is my history and I have a true direct link to this item so I’m going to recreate it.
Wish me luck xx