Fall has hit my town of Spokane, Washington, and I’m so looking forward to snuggling in for the winter. I tend to be a homebody anyway, but when the cold weather hits, I really dig in. Last year, I started hearing about the Danish concept of hygge—I first saw it as a yarn name—and this year, I’m diving into hygge head first, creating a hygee house for my family and our guests. (That yarn, by the way, is from Wool Folk, and it is fabulous.)
If you’re new to the concept of hygge, you’re not alone. Hygge is a Danish term that comes from the old Norse word that means “well-being.” Today, among the Danish people and beyond, hygge (pronounced HOO-GA) is an all-encompassing term for the coziness that makes the winter months bearable. As a knitter, I related to this concept right away. After all, what’s cozier than a hand-knit item?
I think the idea is different for everyone, but for me, it has a lot to do with knitting, fireplaces, and soup. I decided to do a little research on hygge, so I got myself a Kindle copy of The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking. Wiking just happens to be the CEO of The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen — I can’t think of a better person to guide me on my hygge journey.
In my reading, I discovered I am already living a pretty hyggelig (hygge-like) life. Just a glance through the table of contents confirmed this: light, togetherness, food and drink, clothing, home, Christmas—and these are just six of the chapter names. Needless to say, I was intrigued!
Building a Hygge House
Let’s go through these concepts one by one.
1. Light. I love light, including the hot summer sun, but the light from candles, a fire, and a well-placed lamp are so comforting in the cold months. A big part of hygge, it turns out.
2. Togetherness. It’s so important to gather friends and family together, and as a knitter, I know how the company of other knitters can be crucial. My knitting groups (plural is intentional—I belong to three) are a central part of my social life, and I’ve made lifelong friends through knitting. Friends and family are vital to a hygge house.
3. Food and drink. Enough said. Well, I guess I have a little bit more to say. I’m a “Come over for some soup!” person. My most beloved kitchen appliance is my slow cooker, especially when it’s bubbling with soup or stew. And I was so surprised to read that cake is hyygelig! Sweets in general, actually, but Wiking specified cake. I love cake; it’s my go-to sweet treat. So plug in the slow-cooker and get out your mixer!
4. Clothing. Of course, this encompasses the knitting. Socks are super hyggelig. Many knitters really love knitting socks and especially buying sock yarn. Even if they don’t knit socks regularly, ask any knitter how many skeins of sock yarn they have in their stash, and you’ll probably hear back, “too many!” Hey, knitters! Cast on some socks, will ya? And non-knitters, get out your coziest wool socks and snuggle up by the fire.
5. Home. This one is accessible to anyone. It’s pretty easy to create a hygge house if you keep comfort in mind. Pillows, blankets, candles, and Danish furniture if you can swing it. We have three or four pieces of Danish furniture, and people always gravitate to the chairs; those Danes know of what they speak. I’m sure you have some great hyggelig stuff around your home that you can pull out for the winter.
6. Christmas. Oh, how I love you. I’m not a religious person, but I so enjoy all the trappings of the season, and if you’re looking at it from a hygge point of view, Christmastime has all the ingredients: lights, family, food and drink, warm clothes, and home.
There are many more concepts covered in The Little Book of Hygge, but for me, it’s all about the six I highlighted above. Give me my knitting, a cup of coffee or tea, something cooking in the crockpot, my knitting buddies, a comfy chair with good light, and I’m content. And if it’s the Christmas season, even better.
Knitting got me interested in hygge, and it keeps me interested. I’m a process person; I enjoy the act of knitting, the clicking of the needles and the feel of the yarn as it runs through my fingers. Although I love finishing and wearing my knitted items, it’s the act of knitting that’s hyggelig for me, the innate coziness and feeling of providing something for myself with an activity that I so enjoy. If you want to learn how to knit, I highly encourage it!
Those of us who are interested in homesteading today are well situated to the hygge lifestyle; you’ll discover, as I did, that you have many hygge concepts already in practice. A hygge house is just a few fluffy pillows and a crock-pot dinner away!
I’m off to pour a hot cup of tea, put on my hyggebusker (which means sweatpants!), and cozy up with my knitting. Here’s to fall, knitting, togetherness, and hygge!
P.S. Simple homesteading provides lots of ways to make a hygge house. What hyggelig activities to you engage in? Leave me a comment and tell me how you incorporate hygge into your life, even if you didn’t know it.