Recently I got fascinated by Shetland hap history, construction types, specific elements of patterns and enormous variety of stitch sequences flowing beautifully together and creating amazing wavy lines. I have knitted several lace-yarn shawls but those Shetland haps made for everyday use are simply amazing- casual and yet with intriguing eyelet elements, warm, cosy wraps to be worn any time I feel like it. Such a different garment from delicate lace shawls I am familiar with.
There is not that much on traditional haps on line, and there are only few published materials out there worth reading. What I initially managed to find was good enough to begin with though. The important article found just in time for my hap research adventure is written by Elizabeth Lovick who explains the misuse of names for the Old Shale and Feather & Fan patterns. According to Liz, what most of modern hap knitters know as Feather & Fan is actually an Old Shale pattern, and this mistake might be dated back even to the WWII. How intriguing story this is!
There are so many Shetland Hap patterns published under the Feather & Fan title but to my surprise the vast majority of those designs actually incorporate the Old Shale pattern instead. Apart from the Liz Lovick and Sharon Miller’s designs, none of those I found had the correct Feather & Fan pattern used.
After reading more on the topic I realized how much we have forgotten (or even have never been given a chance to experience) about the traditional way of knitting haps. So for the last two months I kept collecting information about preparing fibre, various construction types of shawls, joining simple patterns into complex-looking hap pieces, blocking techniques (oh, I already foresee my blocking frame made of the Polish wood), etc.
Liz was so kind to share with me her knowledge about the traditional stitch choice for classic haps (thank you Liz for your support), and I got so much into the topic that I knitted several swatches on my own and drew quite a number of sketches to get the feeling about the two patterns and different types of hap constructions. It was amazingly inspiring time, and it was going to hold my attention for much longer than I expected.
The below photo presents my version of the Old Shale pattern knitted in the round. The colours change every eight rounds, which makes two vertical repetitions of the pattern. This piece is finished with my mini version of the traditional peaked edging.
The photo below shows my version of Feather & Fan pattern, also knitted in the round. The black stripe takes eight rounds, which makes two vertical repetitions of the pattern.
I find the Old Shale pattern much easier, mainly because there is no need for a life line, and picking up stitches to knit them together causes no problems at all. It is not the case with the Feather & Fan pattern. Using a life line is a must, especially in large projects knitted with finer yarn. Although the Old Shale pattern is with no doubts beautiful and the clear line of waves is eye catching, I am in love with the Feather & Fan drawing. The shape of feathers and fans is almost invisible, and even after blocking you need to look at your shawl like at some sort of optical illusion painting to discover the columns of feathers one time and columns of fans the other time. The waves are way less obvious and because the eyelets run vertically any hap with Feather & Fan border seems to stretch its beauty to the outside. There is a mystery in this pattern for sure!
Knitting these samples was never going to end up with just the test knit. Of course I needed a hap. Or two! So after tweaking some stitches around, I have decided to make a three pieces hap in an inside-out construction type (later I’ll try to write about other types), with a diagonal centre, and knit it in the round as one piece. This technique is dated to late 80’s of the XIX century.
Since my plan is to get a good feeling of both the Old Shale and Feather & Fan patterns, I am going to knit two haps, each with a different border pattern. More news on that soon! Meanwhile check out my first design → Old Shale Shetland Hap.