A Hap for Harriet

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I have a new pattern out today! This is A Hap for Harriet.

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I recently heard that my friend, former colleague, and doctoral supervisor, Professor Harriet Guest, was about to retire, and I thought it might be nice to produce and name a design in her honour. Before I began, I had some discussion with Harriet’s husband, John, about colours. Through a cunning ruse, John discerned that “a muted, not too intense green, jadeish but a tiny bit duskier” would be one of Harriet’s preferences. I immediately thought of this:

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This is a lovely Shetland 2 ply, dyed up in inimitable fashion by my friend Lilith, in her Bitterbug shade. It’s a heavy laceweight, with 800 yards to the 100g skein. It is worsted-spun, both soft and lofty, and blocks out beautifully to create a fabric that is amazingly light and warm. It was the perfect yarn for the hap or wrap I had in mind.

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The hap features a garter stitch centre and a Shetland openwork edging which creates a series of sweeping points. The construction is very simple: it is knit from side to side, the edging and centre are worked simultaneously, and some shaping is added to create a long, shallow triangle.

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The result is a simple, dramatic and extremely versatile wrap that can be worn in many different ways.

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I designed this hap to make the most of a special skein of yarn: simply weigh your skein and follow the percentage instructions in the pattern (the pictured hap measures just over two metres in length). As well as information about how to adjust the hap’s dimensions, the pattern also includes two full sets of instructions: the first for knitters who like to knit from charts, and the second for those who prefer written instructions.

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Today, at the University of York (where I studied, and later worked for many years) there is a colloquium celebrating Harriet’s important work and influence. The hap will be presented to Harriet today, and is my contribution to that celebration. Many moons ago, Harriet supervised both my Masters and Doctoral theses. She had a profound influence on my thinking and writing, and I know I am better at both because of the happy evenings I spent with her discussing matters Eighteenth Century and otherwise over a pint (or two) at the Minster Inn. When I later returned to York to work as a lecturer, Harriet and I established a Master’s degree in Women’s Writing at the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies, and together we edited Charlotte Smith’s important 1790s novel Marchmont for Pickering and Chatto – a project of which I am still proud. A few days after my stroke in 2010, Harriet appeared in Edinburgh, arms full of vintage detective fiction, which we both enjoy. To me, Harriet has been inspirational teacher, supportive colleague and a true friend. It was often (somewhat dismissively) asked of eighteenth-century women intellectuals whether they could make a pudding as well as translate Epictetus, or write the History of England. Well, I can tell you that as well as changing the way the world thinks about Eighteenth Century literature and culture, Harriet can make a pudding, knit a cardigan, cultivate a garden, sing any tune you like from the Cole Porter song book, and make you laugh out loud.

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Congratulations, Harriet. Hope to see you soon in Herefordshire.

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If you’d like to knit your own hap, the pattern is available digitally via Ravelry or in print via MagCloud.

37 responses

  1. I love this colour of wool and many years ago bought it also to make a cockle shell stole. Your design is beautiful and inspiring and I am sure it will be very much appreciated by Harriet!

  2. Both the shawl and yarn are very beautiful, but most beautiful of all is the story behind its conception – a gift of love and acknowledgement for an inspirational figure in your education and life.
    I love the idea of scholarly women meeting up and developing a friendship from the start point of women’s in Enlightenment history.
    Thank you

  3. What a lovely gift and story. Do you ever consider running classes, knitting and talking about books!

  4. A beautiful design for your mentor. I’m sure she will be delighted with such a thoughtful and mindful gift. She sounds an inspirational lady. My Doctoral supervisor shared time, expertise and thoughtfulness for which I will be forever grateful.

  5. This is beautiful and the colour and story behind the design are wonderful. I had a rather mean doctoral supervisor, so you are especially fortunate. Good luck to the professor on her retirement and thank you for sharing the story!

  6. What a wonderful gift you have created for your mentor! It is a very elegant and appealing design, a lovely tribute to friendship.

  7. Good Morning here I am going all pushy on you again as I did the the last time I wrote a quick note…but here I am again…Wow what a gal or knitter I am …So here goes again from Minnesota… The hap for Harriet is a perfect gift to give my self for my birthday which was on Mother’s Day…what a wonderful time….So I want I want I want the pattern and yarn now , oh and if I need the needles those also….Also the sweater below patterned or fair isle…don’t know for sure, am I able to get the pattern for that…Thanks again and hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day and hope your weather is better that ours…Is that possible, what happened to spring or are we going to summer straight on Thanks again and look forward to hearing from You :) Emily

  8. How great it is that Harriet continues to influence your writings by her mentorship when you were at University. I’m sure your lovely gift will be treasured forever.

  9. I, too, was blessed with a mentor who became a lifelong friend. The relationship has enriched my life in more ways than I could describe. What a wonderful tribute, and beautiful shawl.

  10. What an incredible woman! It sounds like a very precious friendship. I can only imagine how much your hap will mean to her… And I look forward or making one of my own and I will enjoy it even more, knowing the inspiration behind the design!

  11. A remarkable friend of mine just gifted this beautiful pattern to me this morning for my birthday! Having read your post, now, about your remarkable friend Harriet, this gift is made all the more wonderful. I so look forward to knitting this hap, can’t wait to cast on! Thank you. The green yarn you have chosen is simply perfect, I must look into it.

  12. Ah, now I see how you were so influenced by Harriet, and maybe even how you came about to be a superb knitter ! Beautiful hap !

  13. It is a beautiful and flexible design. I mostly design my own garments these days, but I will buy your pattern. I seem to have some handspun Shetland in my stash which called to me as I was reading your tribute to Harriet. What a lovely gift for a dear friend on her retirement.

  14. Your absolutely wonderfully, insightful writing always amazes me. Reading it gives me so much in so many ways! And your knitting designs too! I have been introduced to so much and I love it! Keep going Kate! Thank you for sharing your world with us!

  15. Kate, you are a marvel. What a gorgeous gift! I am thrilled you’re releasing the pattern – it is exactly the shawl I have been searching Ravelry for for months now (not that I knew what I wanted it at the time, mind you, it was definitely an “I’ll know it when I see it” sort of search.)

  16. Wow!! What else could you do to express appreciation and love to someone. She will be limp with gratitude. Gorgeous project. Love the colour and it’s descriptor – “duskish”. I have always referred to these favoured hues (?) of mine as muddy, but will change to dusky, the easier for my 2 year old and language mad granddaughter to pronounce. Can’t tell you how much I enjoy your blog; I think I’ve said that before. :) robin

  17. A totally lovely pattern in my favourite colour. You never disappoint. Also, your linen dress (or is it a tunic?) makes a wonderful go-together. I think I’m inspired to try designing a hap.

  18. Everything about this post is so joyful, from the colour to the pattern to the BEST mentor anyone could have had! AND your thoughtfulness for her. Super. ANd yes, I now have the pattern :)
    Thank you.

  19. not much difference for the 21st century intellectuals then? Except I think making a pudding is more noble than some of the present day expectations (thinking of Mary Beard and the nonsense she has had to hear). Lucky Harriet! A glorious tribute, both the Hap and the writing. She sounds wonderful!

  20. Dear Kate,

    What a beautiful design and a great story which inspired it. The colour of the yarn is gorgeous. For the longest time I’ve wanted to try Old maiden Aunts yarns but for some reason it never happened. This will be a good oppertunety to finally do so. I hope Harriet will love the design as much as we do! She sounds wonderful, I can only hope that my superviser at university will be just as wonderful as Harriet was for you.

  21. I’ve just bought the pattern – I haven’t done much knitting recently, but this will be going to the top of the to-do list. Thank you for doing it as written instructions – i really struggle with charts!

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