Haps: a family affair


If life is what happens when you’re making other plans, then this hap is what happens when you’re dreaming about knitting yourself jumpers. This hap is an accidental, unintentional and frankly inconvenient knit that completely ruined my carefully laid knitting plans. But I absolutely love it.

It all started when I offered to help my mum destash. I should state for the record that mum isn’t actually that much of a stasher (is that the right term?!) and all she needed was somebody else to ask ‘are you really going to knit with that again? what was the plan for this single skein of spectacular yarn with no discernible purpose? does it actually go with anything else?’

During the stash sort out, we fell upon this half finished hap languishing in a plastic bag. Mum had got to the striping of the lace but once there, things had gone awry and the hap had been consigned to a plastic bag. Our common approach to WIPs that don’t go to plan is generally to put them in a bag, in a box, under the bed – basically into any hiding place we can find in the hope that this will somehow fix whatever it is we’re stuck on. Surprisingly enough, this approach rarely, if ever, solves the problem.

Looking at the half finished hap, mum reckoned she couldn’t face trying to finish it but we were both agreed that it couldn’t just be disposed of either. We were somehow committed but had no real plan for moving it on. I ripped back the mistaken lace, took the beautiful grey centre diamond home with me and promptly stashed it under a chair. Same problem, different venue.

Weeks passed and the diamond remained under a chair. And then I had an idea, simple but perfect. My sister was expecting a baby (now arrived) and a hap knitted by both mum and I just seemed like the absolute best present. Mum had also recently been teaching me a mnemonic to help me remember the colours of the rainbow and from that, the idea of edging the hap with rainbow stripes was born.

In terms of the actual knit, the pattern is the wonderful full Hansel Hap by Gudrun Johnson. Haps are a type of traditional Shetland shawl and there also seemed a lovely symmetry in passing on to my soon-to-be niece some of her history. If you’re interested in the ins and outs of haps, I’d really encourage you to have a read of this Knit British article.

My mini hap sample (unblocked) from Gudrun Johnson’s hap class.

A few years ago, I’d actually taken Gudrun Johnson’s hap class at Shetland Wool Week. We made mini haps to learn all the skills you’d need to tackle the real thing. Three huge things came out of this class for me: learning how to pick up the stitches needed to start the lace (I’d always been horrible at this), how to spit splice in your yarn (where had this been all my life?!) and the confidence to actually take on a project this big. If you ever get the chance, definitely take the class.

Lessons in hand, I went for it on the real, proper, full-sized hap. Mum had very accurately knitted the diamond so I had the right amount of yarn overs to pick up (thanks Mum!) This pattern is lovely to knit once you get set up and the main modification I made was to change the number of colours involved and the stripe placement. In the end, the colour sequence I used for the hap shell lace section of border was:

Row 1-6: Main colour
Row 7-10: Contrast colour 1 (Red)
Row 11-12:

Main colour

Row 13-16: Contrast colour 2 (Orange)
Row 17-18: Main colour
Row 19-22: Contrast colour 3 (Yellow)
Row 23-24: Main colour
Row 25-28: Contrast colour 4 (Green)
Row 29-30: Main colour
Row 31-34: Contrast colour 5 (Blue)
Row 35-36: Main colour
Row 37-40: Contrast colour 6 (Indigo)
Row 41-42: Main colour
Row 43-46: Contrast colour 7 (Violet)
Row 47-50: Main colour


Overall, I’m pretty thrilled with how the colours have worked out and I love the wee grey space between them. This pattern is wonderfully written and super easy to understand.  I found the only real place that I went wrong was when I missed out yarn overs and that was just because I was tired or watching something dreadful on Netflix while knitting!

When this happened AGAIN and I realised that I’d actually missed the yarn over 6 rows back, I set out to google for a solution that wouldn’t involve taking back over 1500 stitches of lace knitting. These handy instructions from The Yarn Loop website were an absolute game changer and guided me through how to add in the missed yarn over. I’m not going to pretend the result is as good as if I hadn’t made the mistake but I didn’t have to take back six rows of lace. Win.

I prefer the hap without the fancy edging so I just left this off and used a K2tbl cast off after the shell lace section. Knitting the lace has a lovely rhythm and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it, even if each row did take me ages! The lace row itself is really easy to memorise and the pattern holds your hand throughout so I’d thoroughly recommend it if you wanted to try your first lace shawl.


One thing I hadn’t anticipated was that mum and I’s gauge is clearly very different. This has meant that the central diamond was knitted more loosely by my mum than I knitted the lace border so there is a generous extra bit of fabric in the middle, even after blocking. I’m not too worried about the final result though and I actually rather like that we’ve both left our mark on what is now a family project.

Unplanned this hap may have been, but she’s a thing of absolute wonder.

Helpful Information

Pattern – Hansel Hap by Gudrun Johnson
Modifications – The main change I made was to alter the colours and striping for the lace (see table in post for how I did my colour changes). I also left off the fancy edging and did a K2tbl cast off instead.
Cast on – done by my mum a long time ago so I’ve no idea!
Cast off – k2tbl cast off. New to me but I am totally in love with the finish. Just the right amount of stretch but with lovely clean, solid lines. I’d never done this cast off before and pretty much just went for it using these instructions on Interweave.
Lace mistakes help – life saving instructions can be found on The Yarn Loop website.


Needles – unknown 4.5mm needles purchased by mum at some point.
Wool – all colours are Jamieson’s Spindrift. Mum chose the original grey shade and it is 103 Sholmit. I picked the rainbow colours  and they are: 500 Scarlet (red); 470 Pumpkin (orange); 410 Cornfield (yellow); 790 Celtic (green); 685 Delph (blue); 684 Cobalt (indigo); and 1300 Aubretia (violet).


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