Back when hygge fever hit the shores in September 2016, it was very noticeable that hygge was a popular way to sell things. Hygge throws, hygge cushions, hygge candles (guilty!) flooded the shops. Laura Ashley’s Kitchen collection promoted hygge as a way to enjoy living in their kitchens, and Mint Velvet rejoiced that they had already adopted hygge as the brand name for their relaxed loungewear collection.
Inevitably there was a lot of jumping onto wagons that had a group of musicians on. And a lot of bandying the name hygge round that wasn’t always deserved. If a candle costs you £40, that’s not hygge. If the collection is created from cashmere and silk, that’s not hygge. In fact, Meik Wiking told me “Hygge is about an atmosphere rather than things. Luxury is not hygge. Togetherness, gratitude, simplicity is.” (you can read that interview at The Hyggemeister is in The House on this blog)
For me, a lot of hygge is homemade. It’s about taking what you have and building pauses in real life that allow for the acts of sharing food, time and activities to foster the feeling of hygge… and hygge is a feeling, not a thing. It’s elusive, so that even in the cosiest room, with the wine delicately dribbling down your throat and the candles causing sooty marks up the wall, but hiding the fact that you’ll never see 40 again, with a throw casually lying around your shoulders in an attitude that you feel screams Hollywood Siren but looks in reality more Ancient Crone and a cat rubbing against your leg, even then you can’t be guaranteed that feeling of contentment, peace, gratitude, being in the moment, being in like with life that is hygge. Annoyingly, it can’t be caught and it won’t be bought. Put up with it.
But if hygge can be created… made… then for me very often hygge lies in the act of creation. In finding something that gives you the sense of flow, the elusive feeling of being fully aware and present. I’m a hooker… no, I mean I do crochet…. and I love making blankets and granny squares because the pattern-less, repetitive act of hooking each stitch is just the sort of mindless but absorbing thing that creates flow. I sit down with 5 minutes and think I’ll just do a row, and 2 hours later I’m being dragged away to make tea, or to answer the door or just to return to the mundane everyday world.
And group hygge can happen with craft as well. My friend’s mum holds a monthly crafting session, when we go to her house, project in hand, eat biscuits, drink tea (always tea) and make and talk together. We get less made that way, but the craft evening isn’t actually ever about the craft. It’s about the connection. It’s very hyggely, because we know each other, we talk, we discuss, we share.
I’m very lucky in having a physical group and the time to attend, but I get a little craft hygge every day at the moment. CALs (or Crochet A Longs) and KALs (the knitting equivalent) attract a lot of makers who enjoy the act of creating something at the same time as everybody else. I’ve only ever done 2, a Spice of Life blanket last year and, this year, a shoulder throw or scarf run by and made from Scheepjes yarn.
In a shameless example of blatant band-wagoning the CAL is called Hygge. Actually, I can absolutely let them away with calling this Hygge, because I think it is a beautiful example of craftswoman-ship. It uses crochet stitches and crocheting with colours to make the shawl, and it will take us 14 weeks. Not because we’re slow crocheters, but because the parts are being put out slowly every Wednesday. That’s 3 months of waiting impatiently for Wednesday, a frantic Wednesday evening of crochet activity and then another week of waiting. No wonder several of the Facebook members are doing more than one at a time.
And there’s the true hygge of the idea. The Facebook groups that run alongside the project. Filled with crafters from around the world, they share photographs, ideas, colourways, encourage reckless purchases (but sensibly) and gather in groups of 2 or 3 online at a time to share the fun that is craft-hygge together. I’m a member of the International group for the 2017 CAL with an unbelievable 25,000 members. That’s a crazy amount, but because people from the same country tend to gather online at the same time, it doesn’t take long before you begin to recognise the same names creeping up again and again, or to spot the start pupils (those who can do more than one CAL at a time, or are doing it for charity, or chose a colourway that is just too darn beautiful) or to spot the newbies who are on all the time asking for advice, and needing help which is always given with patience and experience.
You know I’m a big fan of Facebook groups. They’re a fantastic way of finding your tribe, of getting to be virtual friends with people who share the same interests and have similar needs. That can work against you in politics, when you never go outside the Tribe, but in hygge you are seeking to spend your relaxation time with people who let you relax. The Scheepjes Tribe are already filling my feed with colours and combinations I hadn’t thought of… and at one point this week I found myself thinking “I could make a bag out of this…” before pulling myself together and hooking the pattern. There’s time to make the bag later, when the CAL is over and I’m searching for a use for all the new skills I’ve learned. For now, my Wednesday hygge is to grab the pattern, grab the hook, grab the yarn and settle back, tea in hand, to create my own little bit of Hygge.
**I bought the kit myself from Wool Warehouse in the Rainbow colourway, but I’m after the Jewel colourway as well. I’m loving the little extras, like the buttons and charm, and Wool Warehouse always include a taffeta bag to keep the project together in. So much classier than a plastic bag, really. If you’d like to help me get that kit, you could always drop me a donation. Just click paypal.me/HyggeJem and you’re good to go. **