Friday, 2 March 2018

Houlland Shawl

As soon as I saw this shawl in Kate Davies Book of Haps(1) I knew I wanted to knit it. 

I loved the pattern for a number of reasons. I am attracted to the tree motif and found the use of this over the whole shawl was very pleasing on the eye. The shawl was to be knitted outside in and I like this method. I had also just knitted Donna (Smith’s) pattern for the Sanik Shawl from the 2016 Shetland Wool Week Annual and do like her designs a lot.( More about this at post of 1Jan17). However, I was taken up with other knitting which included the Ground Elder cardigan project (which I will add here soon) and didn’t feel I could start this shawl until that was completely finished. 

I had some lilac 2 ply lace weight yarn which I had bought many years ago from Many a Mickle in Mytholmroyd so it is over 20 years old. I had knitted it into a shawl  but this was before I knew about Shetland Shawl construction and I didn’t like the method for adding the edge in the previous pattern so pulled it all out, skeined and washed the yarn and re-balled it. 

So I decided I would start the edging before we went Wool Week 2017 and hope to get it done before we returned. This more or less happened but mainly because we stayed for three extra days due to the gales. I attended Donna’s workshop on ‘Traditional Haps’ at  Wool Week which was a real treat. It doesn’t matter how much I read or see on you tube, there is nothing like being taught in person, and preferably by the author of the pattern or similar. I also double checked on the picking up stitches techniques (notice the ‘s’ on this word) from ‘50 tips from Shetland Knitters by Hazel Tindall and Elizabeth Johnston’ (2)

Yarns were joined by a method taught by Ann Eunson in a workshop run with her sister Kathleen Anderson on ‘The perfect finish  for lace’ also taken during Shetland Wool Week, my best description of this is a sort of splicing. This is great and gives an invisible join. If you are an avid reader of this blog you will know  that I am a big fan of being taught by Shetland experts during Wool Week, practising detailed techniques like this are just priceless to me. 

I then got distracted and knitted Elizabeth Johnston’s Shoomal Shawl (which I will write about later) and recovered an Ercol Suite in Harris Tweed....again more here later. 

The Shoormal  Shawl - the edging is naturally dyed with quince leaves from my garden

I mainly only knit in the evenings while watching/ being aware of what is on the TV and knitting the rest of the Houlland Shawl has been a real pleasure. 

I did use a number of stitch markers, I either use split rings or my own hand made yarn loops. I also use a metal board and magnetic strips (bought years ago to aid following embroidery designs) to mark rows and write on a photocopy of the pattern. These aids have been a huge help. 

This shawl was also knitted entirely by using double pointed needles and a knitting belt. This is is the only way I hand knit now. 

Awaiting blocking

I then washed the shawl in lukewarm soapy water, rinsed well and rolled in a towel. It was then pinned to my large blocking board and left to dry. 

This shawl has a wingspan of 144cm and depth of 69cm and weighs 52g. 

What a beauty it is. I really love it and thanks to Donna Smith for designing such contemporary designs with a Shetland history.

(1) The Book of Haps by Kate Davies. This like Kate’s other books is a masterpiece. Not only are there knitting patterns, but there is well researched  explanation and history, in this case about Haps. The books themselves are sheer joy to have. This book contains a large variety of glorious Haps from different designers. You can find out more about Kate’s contribution to ‘knitting’ in its widest sense at and

(2) 50 tips from Shetland Knitters is a fantastic set consisting of 2 DVDs and lasts for over 3 hours. I have discussed this before.