Few people seem as exuberant and energetic – as filled with happiness – as my friend Louise Scollay.

Team WOVEMBER spotted on the Shetland Wool Week at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, photographed by the fantastic Jeni Reid

WOVEMBER team members Tom, myself and Louise spotted on the Shetland Wool Week stand at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, photographed by the fantastic Jeni Reid

Wovember 2014 was massively boosted by Louise’s enthusiasm for wool, her knowledge of British yarn producers and most of all by her enormous warmth and generosity. We spent many days tied to our computers, zooming high wool content emails back and forth and catching up on Skype, and it was some of the best WOVEMBERING of all time.

Huzzah for Louise, MY WOOLLY MUCKER* and comrade in wool!

I also loved the wondrous atmosphere of joy and comfort with which Louise infused the Podcast Lounge at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival – what a happy and unselfconscious place that was – knitters were there throughout the festival, all smiling. It was a genius decision to have Louise run the podcast lounge; I honestly can’t think of a better hostess to put people at their ease and create a celebratory mood.

The Podcast Lounge at Edinburgh Yarn Festival! Run by Knit British AKA Louise Scollay

The Podcast Lounge at Edinburgh Yarn Festival! Run by Knit British AKA Louise Scollay

In the podcast lounge I met brilliant women who told me fantastic stories about their amazing knitting, to be shared in due course on the KNITSONIK podcast.

For example here is Cathy Scott with a very special blanket, and to the right you can just glimpse my recorder, documenting the story of the blanket in the podcast lounge recording booth…

Cathy Scott and her amazing blanket

Cathy Scott and her amazing blanket

…I also met Corrie of Plutonium Muffins in the Podcast Lounge, and Gemma, winner of KNITSONIK framed tarmac photos and instigator of the #TarmacTuesday phenomenon.

I wonder how many other amazing conversations and meetings happened in that lovely corner of joy, presided over by the force of life that is THE SCOLLAY?

All of which is a long preamble to explaining why I have joined Louise’s #hapalong in spite of not really having so much time just now for knitting a hap. Everything Louise does is so joyous, so friendly, so warm and coming from such a good place that if I only have time for one personal knitting project this year, then it must be a hap for the #hapalong. Louise is organising it – how can I not join in?

For those of you who’ve not heard of the #hapalong, it’s a collective focus on knitting haps between the cast on date in April and the cast off date in July. A hap is a type of shawl closely associated with Shetland and the North of England. It is typically not a super delicate and lacy garment, but rather a workaday shawl with a garter stitch section in the middle and lace around the edges. All the rules for the #hapalong are here and after looking them over I realised that one of Gudrun Johnston’s shawl designs – Hansel – would be perfect. This thrilled me quite a lot because the last shawl I knitted by Gudrun – Simmer Dim – was a sublime knit. The pattern was beautiful and easy to follow, with just the right balance of interest and simplicity and I wear my Simmer Dim all the time.

Joey graciously modeling the Simmer Dim shawl...

Joey graciously modeling the Simmer Dim shawl…

I cast about in my stash for appropriate yarns for Hansel and discovered I didn’t have enough of any single yarn shade for a main colour with which to work the pattern as instructed. However, I do have a large stash of different Alice Starmore Hebridean 2-ply which is both sacred and difficult. The blending is so rich in these shades that I find they are quite hard to design with, but I adore the colours!

Then I remembered an idea that Clara Parkes shared in her lovely Stashbusting Craftsy Class – that of making magic yarn balls by splicing or knotting different lengths together. I gathered up my tricksome Hebridean 2-ply and began making a couple of big magic balls with which to knit my hap. (Who doesn’t want big magic balls?)

MAGIC BALL! Pictured here with my very favourite printed fabric

MAGIC BALL! Pictured here with my very favourite printed fabric

I do not know yet how Pebble, Spindrift, Solan Goose and Kittiwake will work together in the main body of the shawl and the lacy border – at the moment things are looking decidedly stripy – but I think I will learn a thing or two about these shades in the process of knitting with ’em, and the process itself is easy, educational and companionable: watching the haps of many comrades turning up on my instagram feed as we #hapalong is a thing of joy.

Kate’s essay in Colours of Shetland about the history of the hap as a working garment is one of my favourites, and it was wondrous to see it reprised here in light of the Knit British #hapalong. The #hapalong that Gudrun hosted on her own Ravelry group has produced an amazing variety of haps which are really worth a look and Louise’s own articles about haps in the history of Shetland life have been a glorious read.

All in all the Knit British #hapalong seems to have generated a tremendous quantity of good energy around, and enthusiasm for, THE HAP. Textile history, conviviality, appreciation for heritage, great design, wondrous woollen yarns and amazing women all seem to be involved in this adventure, which makes joining the #hapalong irresistible.

And thank you also for joining the Gwlana blog tour – it’s just like you to help spread the joy and the word on our woolly doings.

See you in Wovember? WITH HAPS?

Shetland Hap, blocking on a stretcher at the Shetland Croft House Museum

Shetland Hap, blocking on a stretcher at the Shetland Croft House Museum

*that’s Louise’s phrase but I am borrowing it because it’s so good!

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