It is Jen’s day! Hip Hap Hooray! When we began working on this project last year, Jen (Jen Arnall-Culliford) and I spent a considerable time musing on the brief that we sent out to designers. Haps were originally functional, working garments, and so we decided that the designers’ basic remit would be to create an “ordinary wrap” inspired by some element of the “everyday” that they would also like to write about (every pattern in the book is prefaced with a short piece written by its designer). We set no strict parameters as to the nature, size, or style of the design submissions – the idea was simply to create an ordinary, functional, wrappable textile inspired by some element of the everyday. Jen is, as you may know, a great lover of birds and wildlife, and the everyday inspiration behind her Nut-Hap is a British woodland bird – the nuthatch.

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While the length, narrow expanse and short row shaping of Jen’s hap recall outstretched wings, the subtle multi-hued tucks that define its outer edge are beautifully suggestive of overlapping feathers. I know I am biased because Jen is my good pal, as well as my co-editor, but I really think the Nut-Hap is one of the best pieces of work she’s ever produced (and Jen is a great knitterly talent!) It is a completely seamless design, with no right or wrong side, and you can wear it any which way you like. The fabric is somehow completely fit-for-purpose: it stretches easily around the body or can be wrapped multiple times around the neck. And however it is worn, the Nut-Hap is the very definition of wrapping snugly, as well as being a genuinely lovely thing that, in different colourways, would look superb worn over any winter coat. To me, it seems one of those textiles that inspire one’s non-knitting acquaintances to say “wow, where did you get that?” and then react with a mixture of surprise and mild disappointment when they find out that yes, you actually made it. I recently caught up with Jen to talk to her about the Nut Hap.

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KD There are many things I love about this design – the length, the classic feel of it, the beautiful bands of colour, but perhaps most particularly those tucks! Can you say a little about how they are created?

JAC I adore both tucks and pleats – the way that fabric can be folded for both appearance and function is endlessly interesting to me. Tucks are folds where the join runs parallel to the fold line, whereas pleats are joined perpendicular to the fold. So the neckline of your Manu or my Murcott designs both feature pleats, whereas the folds in my Nut-Hap are tucks. They are actually very straightforward to execute in knitting. You simply need to decide which parts of your fabric need to be joined, and then by one method or another, you need to have live stitches at both points. The two sets of live stitches are then worked together – much like a three-needle bind off, but without the binding off action. A folded hem is worked in the same way as a tuck, but with the join occurring at the cast-on edge rather than in the middle of the fabric. One of the aspects I most enjoyed about creating the tucks in my Nut-Hap, was the way that the stitches to be joined could work seamlessly with the ribbing. The stockinette stitch parts are worked on only half of the stitches compared to the rib – with the added bonus that the tucks work up really quickly!

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KD Yours and Tom’s haps share the interesting quality of seamlessness and reversibility. Was this at the forefront of your mind when you began to design the hap, or was it a hap-py consequence of the design process?

JAC Yes it absolutely was. I really adore the tubular cast on for the fact that the stitches seem to appear from nowhere. I first came across the technique in a Knitting Daily email when I was a fairly new knitter, and then woke up in the middle of the night thinking about how I could use it. I was so excited about the possibilities that I woke Jim up to tell him about it. I’m not sure he shared my enthusiasm at the time, but he must have taken some of it in, as he now works as a technical editor with me! The tubular cast on led me to the general ideas of tucks and 1×1 rib, and then it just seemed to flow naturally that I could use the relative gauges and arrangements of stitches to make a hap that looked great from both sides, without a discernible start or end.

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KD I’m interested generally in your design process, which I know is very different from mine! Can you describe how the idea for your hap finally evolved into a finished thing?

JAC I often start with a stitch pattern or a general idea of a stitch pattern. In this case, I knew I wanted my hap to be reversible, so I picked up my copy of Lynne Barr’s Reversible Knitting, and started browsing for stitch patterns. I loved the look of her Puffy Stitch, but when I swatched for it, the result wasn’t quite what I was looking for, and I didn’t love the process of it. So I started to play around, and worked out how I could achieve a similar tucked look in a way that might work with 1×1 rib. At the same time you and I were talking about birds, and I was musing on my desire to see a nuthatch, which led me to nut-hatch-y yarn colours from the beautiful palette of Felted Tweed. And from this, I meandered to using short rows to create a more wing-like shape. It was really a case of a number of elements all coming together at the same time. I knew that it was the right path as they all just fitted together in a pleasing way – tubular cast on, short rows in 1×1 rib, tucks, and a seamless finish. I can generally see when I’m on the right track with a design, as the parts just fit together. And in this case, my Nut-Hap was just the start, as I’ve taken the idea on in my next Cross-Country Knitting design. But you’ll have to wait a while for that!

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KD We both love birds, and I’ve enjoyed working on an avian-themed collaboration with you already! Your hap is inspired by another bird – the nuthatch. Could you tell us a little about what makes this bird so appealing?

It’s just clever! The name nuthatch comes from the fact that it wedges nuts in the bark of a tree so that it can crack them open. The nuthatch is also the only bird to be able to walk headfirst down a tree! I would dearly love to see one, but when we go for woodland walks, the kids are generally too noisy for us to spot such a shy bird.

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KD Do you have thoughts of other avian colourways that might work well for this hap?

There are endless possibilities! A friend knitted a blue tit version where the centre was pale yellow and shades of blue and grey for the tucks. I also have yarn in mind for a willow warbler or greenfinch in shades of green. Rowan do a fantastically bird-y palette for Felted Tweed, so you can customise to your heart’s content.

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KD I really enjoyed modelling your hap – it is such a versatile design which can be worn in so many different ways. But how would you most like to wear your hap?

Wrapped round and round and round and round so that it covers your chin and nose on a chilly day – the tucks add to the insulating properties of the hap, so it’s a great one for later in the year!

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KD As you know, I had lots of fun modelling your Nut-Hap when we were last in Shetland! Thanks, Jen

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Tomorrow’s hap will be revealed over on Jen’s blog, and on Ravelry and the book is available to pre-order here.

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39 thoughts on “Nut-Hap

  1. I don’t knit haps (yet) but so many of the design have been so lovely, and look so interesting to knit that I am probably going to have to start. This one is, I think, my favourite so far (though I can’t be sure!) . It just looks so sophisticated, even I might be able to carry it off, and I am intrigued by the method. Like others who have commented, I really enjoy seeing a new hap each day.

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  2. Oh the nuthatch! What a sweet, sweet bird and how nicely you ‘captured’ it! I like this one a lot…it is the tucks that have drawn me in. Nice work.

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  3. Oh my! Each day I think it can’t get any better….and it does. I’m thinking about a female cardinal colorway: Cinnamon or Camel, with Gilt, Carbon, Phantom and Ginger.

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  4. Spectacular! Reversible, elegant, the opportunity for me to learn the tubular cast-on – and Felted Tweed, one of my favorite yarns, to boot. Maybe a Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) for me . . .

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  5. Gorgeous hap, awesome styling (yes, including your fabulous crinkly coat!!!), stunning photography and what an absolutely charming little bird. I even love how the deepest orange in the hap picks up the bright orange lichens on the limb upon which the bird is perched!

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  6. beautifully conceived and beautifully executed~ bravo!!!
    my nuthatches don’t have the buff colored breast, but I’m already pondering a more grey-centric palate;)

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  7. Every day, as one more gap is revealed, I find myself thinking it can’t get any better. Yet, you manage to wow me again the next day! What a talented team you gathered!!! Besides, I find the interviews on the design process very enriching… Thank you!

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  8. I am so enjoying the daily “unfolding” of the haps. Today’s Nut-hap is very cleverly conceived and the colours are just beautiful. I have a feeling more haps than ever before are going to be knitted in the UK and beyond in the next year!

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  9. This is the one! I’ve been looking for something special to make for a great friend’s 50th birthday and this is perfect. She will love it – can’t wait for the book to arrive : D

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  10. This is a amazing! I love nature too and the colours of this speak so clearly of the bird. I love how neat the pleats are, the over all design is unique and unexpected. I love how the top sits like a shawl with an unexpected drop in length. I will have to come back and study this again but Jen should be proud that she really has taken a hap to a new realm.

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  11. So enjoying your wonderful posts while excited for the next one. The photography on your blog is superb, incomparable, thank you.

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  12. Kate, I love the photo with the tucks next to your neck. What a versatile garment, well done to Jen. And the photos are wonderful, you and Tom are such a talented (and hardworking) pair.
    Good luck with the launch!

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  13. One hap a day keeps the doctor away! Thanks a lot dear Kate, your creativity gives me energy! Brigitte Allain Dupré (Bretagne)

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    1. Hi -my apologies – we are a very small operation and I’m afraid we just aren’t able to handle other orders while processing haps! But because shipping is calculated by weight it won’t cost you any more to order the Buachaille book in a week or so when the shop is open for other orders again.

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