Posted by: christinelaennec | November 9, 2011

“Knit on…”: Bressay Hap Shawl

The full quotation, from the wonderful Elizabeth Zimmerman, is:  “Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises.”  And, as I’ve said before, needlework is marvellously soothing for the soul.  And anyway, I knit on even through plain-sailing times.  Here is a shawl I began when we were on holiday in Harris this summer, and with a little help from Tilly with the blocking (ha ha!), I’ve just finished it:

A bit lopsided but very warm - Bressay Hap Shawl by Sharon Miller

The wool is very beautiful.  (Sadly, it’s been discontinued.)  The orange colour has flecks of violet in it, and it was the exact match of a beautiful freesia that our friends in Benbecula had grown:

Close-up of the Bressay Hap shawl border (pre-assembly), knit from Rowan Scottish Tweed 4ply wool.

The details, if anyone wants to know more, are here on Ravelry.  I’ve called it my Blessings Shawl because I’ve been counting my blessings as I’ve gone along.



  1. Oh Christine, this is a gorgeous shawl….so beautiful…I’ve picked up knitting too and you are so right …it calms me

  2. To die for Hap Shawl you clever girl! I started a Hap Shawl ages ago and still haven’t finished and seeing your reminded me of it and how I really must get it out again. Maybe it will be a good project to work on over the Christmas holidays.
    Your colour choice is beautiful and you look just gorgeous in it.

  3. it is beautiful! Many prayers and troubles are worked through in the midst of knitting, aren’t they? I love the colors in this shawl and the name you gave it is perfect. Stay cozy!

  4. Oh that is really beautiful! I love the colours!

  5. That is lovely. It really is. And in 4 ply, I shiver at the thought, so fine!

  6. So lovely. Reminds me of the idea of a prayer shawl.

  7. Knitting I know absolutely nothing about, but I’m an expert on happing. My grandmother was always telling me to ‘hap myself’ in winter. If I was about to go out to play in the snow she would ask if I was ‘happit’.

  8. What a lovely shawl, I love the colors, especially the blue, which is very much like the color of your beautiful sea there in Scotland. It looks cozy and comforting.

  9. It’s very, very pretty. Definitely a project worth of the late, great, Scottish Tweed.

  10. what a gorgeous shawl! really beautiful. i was going to ask what a hap shawl is but i see Linda mentions “happing oneself up” which my mum used to say when we needed to dress warmly so i’m assuming it has something to do with that. do you know where that word originated? i’ve been knitting too and it’s very rewarding to see something being formed right before your eyes.

  11. Oh this is very very gorgeous Christine!! So elegant and sumptuous…


  12. Dear All,

    Thank you all so much for your kind words. It is a very cosy shawl!

    Linda, thanks for the explanation of ‘hap’. I’ve never heard that word used, or haven’t been aware of it anyway. ajb, how interesting that your mother used it as well, though I presume not in Scotland? Our Concise Scots Dictionary doesn’t give an origin for the word, but the following definitions:

    hap: verb 1. (also fig.) cover, surround;… 3. (also fig.) wrap a garment round (a person), wrap (a person) up in clothes; tuck up (in bed)

    hap: noun 2. a wrap, shawl, or plaid

    happer: the last hour of a mason’s working day when work is covered up against frost.

    So there you go!

  13. It is gorgeous! I’m so impressed! I can’t seem to get beyond the “beginner” stage. I knit for a while and get the hang of it then put it down too long and have to look up “purling” all over again!

    • Thank you! It’s hard to learn a new skill – I’m the same as you with crochet. But I know if I persevere long enough, there will come a breakthrough point. (Unless, of course I really decide I don’t enjoy it, in which case life is too short!)

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