Monday, June 21, 2010

Shetland Hap Shawl from scratch, WIP

On my trip to Scotland last year, one of our stops was Lerwick, in Shetland. The highlight was of course Jamieson and Smith, with it's modest storefront, above left. I purchased several bags of Shetland supreme top. A delight to spin, soft and lovely. I purchased mostly the natural white, but also samples of all the colors : mid gray, moorit, dark chocolate, light brown.

Shetland lace shawls are incredibly fine and intricate. Lovely examples are at Sharon Miller's website. These shawls were knit to sell as a cottage industry, according to Sharon Miller's classic text, Heirloom Knitting. But the shawls I was really attracted to were the hap shawls. These Miller described in Shetland Hap Shawls. These shawls involve a garter square, surrounded by a simple lace, usually "Old Shale" lace were working women's shawls, square in shape, often tied behind the back, or used to swaddle a baby. It was something a little less fine that I could actually spin and knit myself.

So, my Shetland Supreme top was destined to become a hap shawl. I often spin as I knit, being too enthusiastic about a project to wait till the spinning's all done. Here's what there is so far:

I'm working on the center square, double plied yarn, worked as a diamond with a cat's paw design. In parts of Shetland the hap shawl centers are simply garter, although according to Liz Lovick, sometimes they had a lace pattern. I loved the traditional cat's paw and decided to knit the center square as a diamond (increasing to the final then decreasing) utilizing this lace pattern. I have an untested pattern (except for the one I'm doing) available in the sidebar, if you want to take a risk! Once I've got it all spun up, I'll add the fan and feather border, in graduated shades. These directions are just for the center square, but I'll add the border once I get to it.

I should note that according to Ms. Miller, these shawls were originally knit in sections or "border inwards" on straight needles, it was only due to the advent of circulars in the 20's to 40's (or by use of 4 quite long dpn's) that one could knit it as I am, "border outwards" or center first then picking up lace stitches around the border on a big circular.

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