Monday, September 7, 2009

A Traditional Hap Shetland Shawl



Wearing this shawl I shall always feel the sea breeze on my face and imagine the mist surrounding me as I make my way homeward to Avalon.

Among other things, I have romanticized the Shetland Isles and the mystique of the Shetland wool produced by the hardy sheep that live and manage to survive there. It's an infatuation that began years ago when I purchased a Jamieson's Shetland Knitting Book featuring designs pictured on the isles and describing the region and way of life.


It is thus, against all probability, that someone living in Southern California found herself wanting to knit a traditional Shetland Hap Shawl. I chose The Cora Shawl designed by Sharon Miller (Heirloom Knitting) because of its feminine and pretty colors. Some purist will claim it's not truly a Shetland shawl because the yarn, Jamieson's Ultra laceweight is actually a 50/50 blend of Shetland wool and lambs' wool. It's a small nuance that I was not aware of at the time I began this shawl, back in May 2007.


It is, however, a traditional Hap Shawl design with a flower and diamond center and a shaded old shell lace border.



I wrote on May 1, 2007 "I fully expect this project to take at least 1 year." And so it did, and then some. Not that I worked constantly on it, because, if you look around on this blog, you will see that I was knitting on other things at the same time.

I have seen similar styled shawls knit in heavier weight yarns. But make no mistake, while using a heavier weight yarn is no doubt a faster option, nothing can compare to the pure decadent pleasure of wearing a true lace weight shawl.

If you are interested in Shetland's history you might enjoy visiting the Shetland Museum. For more specifically on Hap Shawls, Heirloom Knitting has an on-line booklet here. And, for a less romanticized view of the lives of women who lived and knit on the Shetland Isles, you might read Needled's article Tea and Knitting which points out the less than rosy view of Shetland life for women. I must say, I wouldn't want to have to knock out these shawls regularly or a hat each night for a living. I think that would be a difficult life.


Particulars: The Cora Shawl by Sharon Miller of Heirloom Knitting (other Sharon Miller Shawl's I've knit: Dove and Birch); US 3 needles; Jamieson's Shetland Ultra Lace-weight 2 ply wool: 14 balls (172M per 25g); Colorways: 7 Mystique, 2 Azure, 2 white, 1 clematis, 2 opal; dressed dimensions: 68 inch square. Modifications: none - except I didn't block it severely so my shawl is roughly a 63 inch square. When I have occasion to reblock it I might use a larger surface to get the increased inches - although it's plenty large as it is. For those so interested, the nitty gritty project details are on my Ravelry Notebook.




Finally, this is a very well written pattern and I followed all of the steps and advice given with a fervent zeal. Well, almost. The pattern directs:
"obviously, you will always knit with clean hands"
Oh, that's very obvious. *Cough* *Cough* Just a second. Sorry. I was just choking on a cookie I was eating and had to brush the crumbs off my computer keyboard. Where was I? Ah yes. This tip reminds me of the other obvious rule, namely, that one should never eat near a computer keyboard. Very good advise.


I Thought I should Let You Know....I've been absent from the blog and the blogosphere in general because we have received some heart breaking news. Our dear Mr Puffy has been diagnosed with bladder cancer. It's been almost a month since we learned of his condition and I know all of you will understand how difficult this is for us.

It is not operable. Steve (a medical doctor) has done extensive research and we understand the nature of the illness and the state of medicine for his condition. Mr Puffy is currently on a medication that is controlling his symptoms and he's feeling well, eating well, and enjoying his afternoon tea. I can almost forget he's sick. Almost.

If you have a minute you might say a little prayer that Mr Puffy not suffer unnecessarily and that he continue to have a good response to the medications. It is my prayer that he not be afraid and throughout it all that he know how much his mommy and daddy love him and will always love him.

After several horrible weeks, the medications have allowed us to resume a normal life, which means long walks, long snoozes, and guzzling treats. And, more than ever, we cherish our special tea time together. This past week I made a moist Alabama Blueberry Bread, redolent with the fragrance of warm blueberries, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg which is the perfect late Summer tea treat. While Mr Puffy has his own treats for tea, I find it hard not to share a little of mine with him as well. He seems to particularly enjoy this cake! The recipe can be found on-line here curtesy of Penzey's Spices, which I halved into a single loaf quite nicely. Steve sagely noted that this loaf served with a dollop of ice cream would make a wonderful dessert too....

Until next time, be well, love well, and cherish everyday with your loved ones.

48 comments:

t does wool said...

oh Claudia...the shawl is an amazing knit...but I am so sad to hear of Mr. Puffy's diagnosis...we lost our Jesse 3 1/2 years ago and it hurts to think of that...I will say a prayer for sure...and you will always be femininely snuggled in that shawl.

Monika said...

What a pleasure to read this post, except of course about poor Mr. Puffy! I'll think of him every night, and include him in my prayers. The shawl looks wonderful, and so do all the photos. You look like art yourself in front of the paintings! The cake sounds delicious. I always share bits of my food with my pets. It's hard not to. :o) All the best to you, Steve and Mr. Puffy!

Donna said...

The shawl is too beautiful for words!! I shall keep Mr Puffy in my thoughts (and you , too!)

shortoldlady said...

Wonderful thoughts coming your way Mr Puffy!

The shawl is absolutely lovely! Enjoy wearing it.

FYI: I tried clicking on the Jamieson's Shetland Knitting Book link but I keep getting the message not found. Could be me tho - I'm terrible with computers!

Thanks for sharing your finish - looking forward to more!

Renee said...

Oh Claudia, it's gorgeous!! Beautiful knitting as always. I can almost smell the sea breeze.

Mr Puffy, you and Steve are in our prayers. It's good to know he's enjoying himself and gets to try your lovely recipes too. He knows his mommy and daddy love him. :)

Bridget said...

The Hap Shawl is amazingly beautiful! Congratulations on finishing it.

I am beyond sad about Mr Puffy's condition, but I am glad to hear he is doing OK. I'm sure he is happy as long as all of you are together, and there is something to be said for remembering to treasure every minute of every day. Everyone at our house will say some special prayers for all of you.

In the meantime, give Mr P a kiss from me, and try to take it easy. The best you can do is to just give him love like always. He is a lucky pup, and I suspect he knows it.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful shawl. Terribly sad news. I will be thinking of you all. Ursula

Rainey Day Knitter said...

Oh! I am so sorry to hear about Mr. Puffy's illness. I know exactly how you feel about him as we feel the same about our Sam who is currently taking a tangled nap with my knitting project. I will send strong healthy vibes Mr. P's way and hope that he enjoys his days to the fullest.

CelticCastOn said...

awww C so sorry to hear about Mr. Puffy's condition. Glad to hear the meds are working for him though. I'm pretty sure Mr. Puffy knows he fell on his feet when he came to live with you, what doggie wouldn't love tea time :)
Lots of hugs for you both!

Willow said...

When I saw your name pop up in my google reader, I thought, "Oh good! She's back with more knitting!" The shawl is much much more than just 'knitting'. I am enthralled and wonder if I possibly might just might have time to knit one. After all, several of my ancestors hail from the 'general area' of Shetland if you count England, Scotland and Ireland as 'general area'.

I am so sorry to hear of Mr. Puffy's difficulties. I'm sure he will be very brave in the course of taking his medications. I most certainly will be saying prayers for him and for you too during this stressful and painful time.

Spend many moments snuggled in that shawl.

betty said...

That's a very lovely shawl. I don't think I would have the patience to spend a year knitting something, even if it's done off and on.

I am so very sorry to hear of Mr. Puffy's illness. I'm sending good vibes down your way as best as I can.

At Home Mommy Knits said...

Your shawl is so gorgeous my jaw is still on the floor ;)

Please know that Mr. Puffy will DEFINITELY be in my thoughts and prayers as well as you and Steve. I am so thankful he has some medication to keep him comfortable.

dogwithbooks said...

Puffy, we will keep you in our thoughts and prayers everyday. You are too special for words and we love you even though we've never met you in dogson. Love, Nan, the Tomato, Clem, and the human, Nat.

sue said...

Oh no poor Mr. Puffy, and poor mummy and daddy too having to watch him go through all the pain and suffering. I hope he doesnt suffer too much and I will be saying a prayer for him that when his time is ready he will go peacefully. I am sure that he does love eating that cake, it looks very nice and he should get to enjoy some nice treats too. I have to say that throughout it all you still come out with some absolutely gorgeous knitting. The shawl is stunning and suits you so well. I love the colors in it too. Stay well and I am thinking of you all.
Love Sue xx

Alison Boon said...

The shaawl is stunning and so so pretty. I am sad to hear of Poor Mr Puffy's illness. He is such a darling that i'm sure everyone has already added him to their list of prayers. We love him too.

Channon said...

Beautiful shawl, and I'm now adding a "true" Shetland shawl to my queque. Avalon in particular has always sucked me into a story... just using it as a location for even part of a story will almost assure that I read it.

However lovely your shawl (and the photos of you wearing it), the prettiest shot of the post was of Mr Puffy. You and he have been on my mind all weekend.

Of course, I too share bits of my meals with the girls. They love so completely and unconditionally... how can I refuse a mere morsel?

Your household and especially Mr Puffy stay in our thoughts and prayers. We're delighted to hear he's doing well on his medications.

Kate said...

Beautiful, beautiful shawl.

I'm so sorry to hear of Mr. Puffy's diagnosis. I am glad to hear he has some medication to help control the symptoms and he is at least feeling better. He is in my prayers and thoughts.

jillian said...

Oh no, I'm so sorry to hear of Mr. Puffy's condition. You will all be in my thoughts, and I hope you have much time yet with Puffy feeling good.

Your shawl is incredible!

Denise said...

Hi Claudia, this looks beautiful and truly amazing, but I am so sorry to hear about Mr. Puffy. I'm so sad :( I will be praying for him. I'm glad to hear he is feeling well right now.
Sending hugs to you both
xxx

Hilary said...

Oh, Claudia, I am so sorry to hear about Mr. Puffy. :( I feel like I know the little guy and my heart is breaking for him. I will definitely keep him (and you and Steve!) in my prayers.

Your shawl is absolutely stunning. With such lightweight yarn, that is a HUGE accomplishment! I am speechless. You should be very proud!

Marie said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Mr. Puffy. Pictures of him and his little anecdotes always make me smile. I truly hope that the medication will continue to help.

The Shetland shawl is beautiful. I commend you for knitting such a large and intricate pattern. I'm not sure I would have persevered.

Pat K said...

Dear Mr Puffy! What a shame! I hope the medicine works well and keeps you feeling well for a long time. And, of course, the shawl is just amazing.

Kathleen said...

Wrap yourselves in your beautiful shawl and feel the comfort it brings all of you as you cherish the closeness.

Prayers and blessings,
Kathleen

Silvia said...

Such terrible new about Mr. P. I'm so sorry! I hope that things go well for as long as he can be with you.
Your shawl is lovely, quite an accomplishment- snuggle up with Mr. P for a while.

the casbah kitten said...

What a lovely shawl! But the news about poor Mr. Puffy blew me away. We're sending him lots of prayers and purrs.

knittingdragonflies said...

The shawl is beautiful, and you look very goddess like in it. We are all praying for Mr. Puffy. I'm glad he is coming along well with his medication.
Hope you all had a good holiday weekend.
Hugs and sloppy kisses to Mr. Puffy, and of course a treat

Miriam said...

You know my thoughts are with all of you. It's definitely important to remember to cherish all the time you have with those you love.

Your shawl is lovely, and looks as though it was truly a labor of love!

subliminalrabbit said...

oh, i am close to tears! it is so hard to nurse a loved one through something like this, especially if they can't fully understand what is happening... we're sending our love and hope to you - every ounce we can spare.

amanda said...

Claudia, your shawl is just beautiful. So glad you finished it after more than 2 years of hard work.

Give Mr. Puffy a big hug from me. I hope he continues to feel well and that you have many many tea dates left together! I know how hard this is for you, and I hope you are doing as well as you can be. Mr. Puffy is very lucky to have such wonderful parents!!

Kristen said...

Oh, I am so sorry to hear about little Mr. Puffy. I wish him the best.

Your shawl! It's beautiful! By coincidence, I think I saw the same shawl yesterday. I met a knitting friend for coffee and she was working on this amazing piece.

Tracy said...

Oh, Claudia...so much you are in my thought... I'm so very sorry about Mr. Puffy's health and the dismal diagnosis. I am glad he's not in pain right now and still loving the treats. I hope everyday will still be sweet for him...And for you & Steve too. Saying lots of prayers just now... Enjoy the days while you can--life is so precious! Your Shetland shawl is spectacular!! Just love the pattern...that undulating wave pattern is so lovely, and so is the yarns you've chosen for this project. What a grand finish--well done! That blueberry bread looks scrummy...must go see that receipe--thanks! Thinking of you all, my friend... Be around when you can. :o) ((BIG HUGS))

Jules said...

Hello Claudia, I just read your post and I'm so sorry to hear about Mr. Puffy. He's such a sweetie and I, and many of your readers I'm sure, have always loved seeing his picture on your blog and your amusing stories about him. Enjoy your teatimes together, and I'll keep you in my thoughts. xoxo

kleiosbelly said...

The shawl is just phenomenal! So lovely!

I am so sorry to hear about your pup. I had a chronically ill cat for several years and it's just the most painful thing. Soak up every minute you can with the little guy.

Anita said...

Your shawl is absolutely lovely! The time involved shows in the finished piece.

So sorry to hear about Mr. Puffy! You all will be in my prayers. I'm glad the medications are helping him. Lots of hugs to you.

raining sheep said...

I am so sorry to hear about Mr. Puffy. These little creatures are so much a part of our lives and the spirit of Mr. Puffy is so prevalent in your blog. I am hoping for the very best days for Mr. Puffy, lots of tea and I know he is so lucky to have you both as your love for him so evident. Hugs to you.

Your shawl is so wonderful, what a work of art. A year's worth of love and labour. I am certain it feels absolutely scrumptious wrapped all about you. Enjoy it.

Bubblesknits said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Mr. Puffy's condition. :-( Lots of hugs to you and lots of pets to Mr. Puffy.

Anonymous said...

Hi Claudia - Already posted a comment, but since then have tried the Alabama Blueberry Bread. Yummy! We tend to eat it with coffee, but it really is a tea bread, for sure - something about the sweetness (but not OVER sweet for those who haven't tried it yet!) Thank you for sharing these gems and so glad Mr. Puffy got to taste a bite. Such a sweet and gentle soul he is. Ursula

Mr Puffy's Knitting Blog: said...

Hi Ursula ~ thank you for sharing that you enjoyed the Alabama Blueberry Bread! You are right, it is a sweet bread and reminds me of a blueberry buckle which is often served warm for dessert with a lemon hard sauce.

I told Mr Puffy what you said about him getting cake, and he thinks you must be a very nice lady :)

Kate said...

Claudia...your shawl is absolutely amazing! It's perfect for those cool So. Cal evenings...

I'm sooo sorry to hear about Mr. Puffy. He's been such a delight to watch and read about, enjoying his wonderful life with you, very nobly wearing hand-knits, and I hope and pray he has a good number of happy, sunny days in front of him, and as little pain and suffering as possible.

windyridge said...

I am so sorry to hear about Mr Puffy. I almost feel as if I have met him. Our pets are members of the family and it's hard when one is sick. My heart goes out to Mr Puffy.

Sherry said...

I'm late to comment as usual. It's good to hear that Mr. Puffy is responding well to his meds. I've been thinking of the three of you.

The shawl is beyond amazing. Two plus years of work ... what an accomplishment.

tiennie said...

That is a beautiful beautiful shawl!

I'm very sorry to hear about Mr. Puffy. I hope he isn't in too much pain.

amanda said...

Sending happy thoughts your way Claudia. Im glad you've got something so lovely to snuggle up in at a difficult time. Nice to see you keeping up with the afternoon tea too, :)

sweetp said...

Aww. I was all ready to leave a gushing post about your beautiful shawl. Claudia I am so sorry to read about Mr Puffy. That breaks my heart. I hope you are able to have many special moments with him . You are in my thoughts x

Nantucket Dreams said...

oh my goodness, my eyes are definitely wet from reading this post. i am praying for you and mr puffy. i hope he is not scared and feels loved and happy...and that he continues to do well on his treatments.

KnittySue said...

Your shawl is stunning beyond words, thanks for sharing it with us. I am so saddened to hear of Mr. Puffy's diagnosis, I lost my beautiful golden to cancer 6 years ago and it's still painful. I will send up a prayer and will give my chihuahua an extra hug today.
Take Care...all the best to you and Steve.

Kathy said...

I'm so sorry about Mr. Puffy. My hope is that he not suffer and that when the time comes, he'll go quietly and without pain. My thoughts are with you.

Nicoleta said...

Oh my God, this is a gorgeous shawl. I am really mesmerized. I have to try to make it also on my machine. BTW, if you are interested to see my patterns, this is my site
machine knitting patterns . I do not have much because i am rather new to this, but loving it so much