Ottar (hap)

I have been so inspired by Ottar (see yesterday’s post) that I decided to name my latest design for her – the Ottar hap.

This is a hap I’ve had a notion to knit since I started working on The Book of Haps about eighteen months ago. As I researched Shetland hap construction, I became a little preoccupied with the many different ways that an auld shell pattern might be used to add a simple, effective border to haps of many different shapes and styles. In Shetland, this familiar stitch pattern was generally used to edge a borders-in square hap, as it is in my Moder Dy design.

Many contemporary iterations of the hap, such as Gudrun’s classic Hansel and Half Hansel, use auld shell to add a decorative border to a hap that’s worked from centre out.

And in my Northmavine hap, meanwhile, I used a variant of the pattern with 4 yarnovers to create an allover triangular design.

I just don’t think you can argue with auld shell: its pleasing, graphic simplicity, the way it can be used to highlight colour transitions, the elegant curves of its yarnovers, its distinctive combination of squishy ridges and undulating chevrons . . .

In short, I love auld shell. I also love a big hap – one you can really wrap yourself up in – and the Ottar hap is certainly that!

Using three shades of Buachaille, (Squall, Ptarmigan, and Furze), the hap is knitted from tip to border, working increases along one long edge only.

Somehow, I find squall to be the most deliciously sheepy of all the Buachaille shades – a deeply satisfying warm grey. And there’s something wonderfully elemental about it when its worked in garter stitch. But I also wanted to give a smooth finish to this simplest of knits, so incorporated a slipped stitch cord into both long edges. Worked as you go, the edge lends the squishy expanse of garter stitch a little neatness and élan. I used a similar edge recently on the Dunyvaig design, and I’m a little obsessed with it.

I love the the way that garter stitch, when it is knitted sideways, essentially sits across the body on the bias.

This is a really comforting hap to wrap oneself up in (as I’ve found myself doing as the air gets chill) but I also think it has drama, and a little elegance too.

As I’m busy working on my writing at the moment, this is the right kind of knitting for me – something to relax with in the evening, a fabric which grows slowly and steadily, and which one can finally put on and enjoy.

I hope you enjoy it too!

The Ottar hap is now available on Ravelry as a single pattern and as a kit in the KDD shop. The kit includes yarn, project bag, and digital pattern download, and represents a 15% discount on buying these items separately. We’ve also put some of these beautiful Penannular brooches in the shop – like all penannular brooches, on this one the pin is attached to the outer ring, which is then secured by rotation. Its a fantastic, intuitive design — especially if you, like me, are forever losing shawl pins.

Finally, we’ve also produced a video tutorial which illustrates a really straightforward way of weaving in yarn ends as you go — it takes very little effort, and means that there is no finishing at all once you’ve bound off the final stitches of your hap – just block, and go! This video, capably demonstrated by Mel, will be available on the tutorial page (once it has uploaded, later today).

Hap-py knitting!