In the middle of last year I got an email from Kate Davies asking me if I would contribute a design to the idea she had for a new publication, The Book of Haps.  Being a huge fan of Kate’s work and knowing that she does a great job at whatever she does of course I had to say yes!

The brief was to design and knit something which was a modern take on a hap.  One of the main things I noted was that it had to be wearable.  I have a couple of large traditional square haps which I find are too big to be wearable everyday so I wanted to design something that was inspired by the traditional hap but was easier to throw on with a dress or coat and be comfortable in.


My thoughts went straight to my Great Aunty Emma, she is an amazing lady, who is almost 95 and is still knitting.  She has always knitted lace and has designed and made countless haps over the years for personal customers, knitwear agents and family members.

She made this beautiful hap for my son when he was born almost 5 years ago.

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Remarkably she writes very little down (like many other Shetland knitters) and just “makes it up as she goes along”.  Something I love about her style of knitting is the way she isn’t too precious about being exact “maybe a decrease here and maybe another one there” but it always turns out stunning.  A couple of years ago I became very interested in the construction of Shetland haps so I went to visit her for a lesson.

Here she is giving me a lesson – her hands were moving so much faster than I could write!

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For my design, I knew I wanted to use the edging Aunty Emma showed me (known as the Brand Iron edging) and trees.  The tree is a lace pattern that she uses a lot in her designs and it is one of my favourites due to its straight lines and pleasing symmetry. So I knew I wanted to use that pattern and also some element of traditional Shetland hap construction (you will find information about traditional hap construction in the new book).  Thinking about these things I then began to visualise a triangular shaped garment, which I then had to make!



Choosing the yarn was easy.  Aunty Emma almost always uses Shetland lace weight yarn for her haps, I chose Jamieson and Smith Shetland Supreme lace weight in an unyded shade of grey (its called “grey” but it has a brownish hue).  This yarn was developed in conjunction with the Shetland museum and this description is given by Jamieson and Smith:

“The yarn is worsted spun from the natural, undyed colours of pure bred Shetland Sheep to replicate the handspun yarns used in the finest Shetland lace items of the 1800s, such as Queen Victoria’s stockings and items displayed at world exhibitions.”

Its a lovely yarn to work with, soft but strong, it seems quite springy before it is blocked but it stretches a lot!


Houlland is the croft where Aunty Emma and her family (my Granny included) lived on the west side of Shetland in Sand.  She has many memories of knitting there, she knitted her first spencers (garter stitch long-sleeved vests for wearing as underwear) when she was 5 or 6 years old and sold them to the travelling grocery van.  They would then use that money to buy essentials like sugar, flour and tea.  She also remembers knitting haps; her mother would knit the elaborate, lacy, edging and borders and then she would pass it on to the children (including Emma) to complete the garter stich centre.

The croft house at Houlland when the family lived there.

Houlland house

These photos were taken at the Baptist Church in Sand which is across the road from Houlland and is where the family attended Church on Sundays.


The book has been edited by Kate Davies and Jen Arnoll-Culliford, I want to publicly thank them for asking me to be part of such an amazing project and also for being stars to work with!

I also really want to thank Aunty Emma for being such an inspiration!

Aunty Emma wearing the Houlland


The book can be pre-ordered at www.shopkdd.com and will be shipped in early June.

You can read an interview with me and more about Aunty Emma over on Kate’s blog.

Thanks also to Tom Barr for taking the photos on a bright but very blustery typical Shetland day!

And – several people have already been asking about the coat – its from Cabbages and Roses, it is mine but I unashamedly copied Kate when bought it, I mean, I was inspired by Kate!






A New Pattern – Shallmillens Snood

It’s a pretty busy week around here, between all the pattern releases for the new “Book Of Haps” edited by Kate Davies and Jen Arnall-Culliford (which is available to preorder at www.shopkdd.com) and all the buzz surrounding the Shetland Wool Week ticket sales, I have also making final tweeks to my latest pattern, the Shallmillens Snood.


I knitted this snood last year: it started off as a way for me to experiment with repeating patterns in colours with a strong contrast.  I have worn it a few times since and have been asked several times for the pattern and here it is!

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“Shallmillens” is a Shetland dialect word meaning “smithereens” or many pieces, as the snood is made up of a series of geometric patterns in blocks.

A provisional cast on starts the project, it is knitted in the round and at the end, the provisional cast on stitches are unravelled and are grafted together with the stitches of the last round.  Instructions are giving for doing provisional cast on and grafting (AKA Kitchener stitch).

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It would make an ideal project if you are new to knitting with more than one colour, as the patterns are very repetitive, there is no shaping and not changing of colours.  It is knitted in Jamieson and Smith Jumper Weight Yarn (four 25g balls of each colour), I chose highly contrasting black and off white but it would look good in many different colour combinations, or a multi-coloured version would be a good project for stash busting!

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The Shallmillens Snood pattern is now available to purchase on Ravelry and watch out for my contribution to “The Book of Haps” which will be revealed later this week.  I cant wait to show you!

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Many thanks to Jen Arnall Culliford for tech editing.

Happy Knitting!







Hap-py about Haps

The other day I asked my son if he wanted a “Hap Sandwich”.  Of course, I meant a ham sandwich and he couldn’t understand why I was laughing!  I have been thinking about haps a lot lately, one reason why is that I am really pleased that I have a design in “The Book Of Haps” produced by Kate Davies and Jen Arnold -Culliford.  I have been keeping quiet about it which was quite hard as I couldn’t show what I was working on!


The book is made up of patterns by different designers and essays about haps.  I have had a peek at the designs and they are all amazing, so different from each other; it is an honour to be part of such a lovely publication and beside many of the designer I admire and aspire to be like!  The design on the cover is by Carol Fellor from Ireland, Kate and Jen will be revealing each design on a daily basis on their blogs Kate Davies Designs and Jen A-C Knitwear and I will be revealing my design shortly so watch this space!

The book is available to pre-order at Kate’s shop here and the books will be shipped in early June.

On Saturday I spent a few hours of the day with the Shetland Branch of the Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers.  We met in the Trondra Hall and after the obligatory cup of tea and a banana muffin,  Anne Eunson (who knitted the famous lace fence) did a workshop on dressing (blocking) handknit garments.


She showed us how to dress a traditional square hap, this beauty was knitted by her mother when her daughter was born.  At one time in Shetland, as knitting was so important, most homes would have had their own wooden frames (usually homemade) for dressing various hand knitted garments, including aa adjustable hap board like this.  Strong cotton thread is sewn through each peak (scallop) of the hap and tensioned on the pins of the board until the hap is evenly and fully stretched.



Anne will be teaching a class on dressing lace knitwear during Shetland Wool Week, details of the programme will be out next week.


The meetings of the Shetland branch of Knitters, Spinners, Weavers and Dyers are open to everyone with an interest in textiles regardless of their experience, and take place generally every second Saturday on the month at various locations around Shetland.  For details of meetings please see https://www.facebook.com/SGSWD

I am currently knitting a traditional Shetland hap, pattern in A Legacy of Lace by the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers, which starts with the lace edging.

Its taking a while as I have been working on other things (also to be revealed soon) but the lace edging is so repetitive it is very easy to memorise and so it has been my travelling project, the edging of a hap is also probably one of my favourite things to knit.


I have also just finished blocking my Hap for Harriet but I think I will share that another time!

Have a good weekend!

















































Boards like these are generally homemade, Kate’s Husband Tom has made one and promises to write a tutorial for one on her blog soon.  Of course, you can pin it out on the carpet or I rember my Granny pinning it out on the grass in the back green on a fine day.









I spent a day with Kate earlier this year speaking about traditional Shetland haps and visiting some local ladies that were hap knitters, which was very interesting and inspirational.



Amazing work by Fair Isle Knitting students

For the last few months I have been teaching Fair Isle knitting to a group of nine ladies for two hours every Monday evening in the local Primary school in Hamnavoe.  The night classes were run as part of the Adult Learning section of Shetland Islands council and ran for ten weeks in total.

The aim of the classes were to facilitate the learners to design and knit their own mini Fair Isle jumper, they experienced all the steps required to make a full-sized jumper and then they can use the knowledge gained to create their own full-sized Fair Isle jumper.  We used the Shetland method of cast on and knit until it looks right!

They all did extremely well and I was really proud of what they achieved.

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A couple of ladies had already attended the nightclass which was run by Wilma Pottinger so were knitting larger garments.

These photos give a brief idea of the things we covered during the class:

Elsa cutting the steeks in the armholes of her jumper:


And the finished little jumper:

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 Hannah picking up stitches for her neckband:


Margaret’s beautiful full sized jumper:


Diane has just dropped the stitches for her neck:


I really enjoyed teaching these sessions and will miss them!  I am planning to do another 10 week night class later in the year and also short sessions so watch this space.  I would be interested to hear from anyone who would like to do short workshops, I am looking for suggestions for topics to cover, please email me or comment below.  I am also hoping to be able to offer classes to visitors, so even if you are planning to be visiting Shetland, please get in touch!













Rust Brake Cowl

My least favourite part of any project is finishing it off, sewing in the ends and dressing (blocking) it.  Someone once said it was because you have enjoyed making something and you are reluctant to stop making it.  That could be true since its not that I don’t like what I finish; for me, the planning and casting on is the exciting part.

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This was certainly the case with the Brake Cowl I knitted last year.  It was made in a lovely Bluefaced Leicester sock wool from Eden Cottage Yarns.  The yarn is soft, and dyed in a deep rich colour with a distinct sheen.  I bought it in Kathy’s Knits during a short trip to Edinburgh last year. I was in the shop and held the skien up to my face;  I said “I have to have this” to my friend just as a stranger walked into the shop.  The stranger said straightway, “Yes you do” and that was it – the skein was purchased!

It is lovely and soft to work with and is a dream to wear next to the skin.  The only problem was that while I was knitting it I unusually dropped a few stitches and they went right to the bottom.  Compared to Shetland yarn (which is what I nearly always use) it is very smooth and slippery, when a stitch came off the needle, instead of just sitting there waiting to be picked up again like Shetland yarn would, I could swear I heard a “pop” and the stitch had disappeared down several rows.   I don’t know about you, but I find even the simplest lace patterns can be very tricky to fix properly.

The first time I heard about using a lifelife in knitting, was from Loritimesfive on Instagram but had never used but in this project it certainly was beneficial.

It looks as if I have been sitting on my needles in this photo below!

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Using a non-sticky yarn in a similar weight to what you are using and in a contrast colour, run a thread through stiches on the needle.  I removed the thread and ran it in at the end of every pattern repeat

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The pattern for the Brake Cowl is free and it is now available to download from my Ravelry store.  The pattern is a simple lace horse shoe pattern that is repeated and is knitted in the round so there are no purl rows (hooray!). Please note the pattern is written instructions only but you could easily make your own chart if that is what you prefer.

Loritimesfive can be found on her website here and on Instagram here, please check out her work, her photos are truly amazing, she is truly inspirational, and a lovely person too!

Happy Knitting!



Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016

Last March I attended the Edinburgh Yarn Festival with the team from Shetland Wool Week.  While I was there I texted some of my knitty pals from Shetland to say, next year I am coming back and you must come with me!  So we booked flights and accommodation sometime last year and off we set on the red eye flight this past Friday morning.

We had an amazing weekend, we spent the entire day on Friday in the market place in the Corn Exchange.  Unlike other shows I have been to, I could have bought something from every stand, the quality of each vendor was so high.  I managed to catch up with several people I  have met through the world of knitting I would now call friends; its a bit of a cliché but the world of knitting really is a bit like a big community and events such as the EYF brings these people together.  Its so good to speak to people with the same interests and passions. I took my camera with me but didn’t take any photos, I think I was so busy trying to take everything in.

On Saturday morning I took a class in Faroese Shawls with the lovely Karie Westerman.  We discussed Faroese shawl construction and each knitted a basic mini version.  The Faroese shawl is different to other types of shawls as there is a tapering rectangle in the middle of the shawl, shaping takes place at each side of this central section and also at the shoulders.  I really enjoyed the class, it was good to do something completely different and I was quite happy just to knit for a couple of hours.


We spent the rest of the day on Saturday in the marketplace and actually sat outside in the sun for a couple of hours.

I must say I was very restrained with my purchases over the weekend, I still have yarn I bought last year at the festival I haven’t used!


The yarn was from John Arbon Textiles, this year I said I wasn’t going to buy any yarn unless I had a plan for it: I hope to use the grey alpaca to make the Rheinlust shawl by Melanie Berg and to use the black merino to make a simple beret.

I splashed out on two sets of carbon circular needle sets to make hats, up until now I have been a strictly DPNs and knitting belt type of knitter, I thought the circulars would be easier when it came to portable projects.  I am half way through a hat using the circular needles but am finding it very slow compared to my usual knitting style.  I am also finding it easier to hold the yarn in my left hand when using circulars.  I must admit I am finding it much easier now I am back to working with the DPNs at the crown.  I won’t abandon it yet as I can see the advantages there sometimes are.

The two books I bought are both stunning in their own way.  Buachaille, at home in the Highlands, is Kate Davies latest book, with mainly patterns for her new range of yarn.  The patterns in the book are mostly accessories, meaning there are lots of possibilities for quick(ish) projects.  I think Kokkelurie (a mittens pattern) is one of my most favourite patterns ever.  I have the yarn so just have to get knitting (my queue is quite long now…).  The book follows on from Kate’s other books in her own particular style with beautiful photos and styling making you wish you were transported to the Highlands immediately.  There are also some Scottish recipes by Tom, Kate’s husband and a an essay on a Highland walk.  I love how Kate manages to intertwine her designs and knitting with all aspescts of her life.

Anna Maltz‘s book, Penguin: A Knit Collection is a quirky collection of patterns ranging from mittens to jumpers, all inspired by penguins. The styling and imagery throughout the book is stunning and there is an element running through the publication.  There are several projects I want to cast on right now, which is quite a rare thing, I usually find maybe one favourite pattern that I make and the rest are just nice to look at.

Now that I am home and am digesting everything from the weekend, I feel so inspired and want to start so many new projects.

Roll on next year!




Baable Hat Pattern Update

Just a quick post to say that the new Shetland Wool Week hat pattern is now on the link on the Shetland Wool Week website.  The Baable hat pattern is still available and will be available to download from the Ravelry page from Monday morning.

I am in Edinburgh this week at the Yarn Festival and don’t have access to a computer but I will get onto it as soon as I get home!

Have a good weekend!