Monday, 15 December 2008

What Is A Shetland Hap Shawl?

I have written several times over the last few weeks about the Shetland hap shawl that I am making, and it has brought about several comments asking what a Shetland hap shawl is. So I thought the best way to answer this was to write a post about it. I have been knitting lace shawls for some months now and the owner of the website that I had been buying my wool from told me of another site that specialized in Shetland lace shawls. This site is Heirloom Knitting and is a source of lots of information about Shetland lace knitting as well as being a source of supplies and patterns for some truly delightful shawls.

Shetland lace knitted shawls are justifiably famous for their intricate designs and fineness. Perhaps the best known are the Shetland lace ring shawls which are so fine that they will pass through a wedding ring. The production of these incredible shawls was a cottage industry during Victorian times and the finest London stores were supplied with these hand-made shawls for sale to the high and the mighty.

But these shawls were not suitable for everyday use by the Shetland women themselves so they produced shawls made of thicker wool and in dark colours for their own use. These were known as hap shawls and in addition to being thicker and darker then the fine shawls that went for sale, the patterns in them were far less intricate. Hap is a medieval word meaning a cover or to wrap up, and that is what these shawls were for. They were used by the Shetland women to wrap themselves in for warmth. I've included a picture below of the shawl that I am knitting.

I hope that this answers the questions that you have been asking. A trip to the Heirloom Knitting website will give you far more information.


alhi said...

How can you call that not intricate! It looks amazing.
Thanks for the comment.

Toni said...

Is the shawl in this picture something that we can buy? If so where? I like this better than the ring shawls. I want something that I can use and has a purpose.
Thank you. This is lovely.

Renée said...

That is just beautiful, I have just recently started crocheting and now I want to learn to knit, after seeing the shawl you made....