Knitting Project: Sisu Hat and the Meaning Behind the Finnish Word

It seems like it's been forever since I last posted about knitting. All of my knitting projects have taken the backseat, now that it's finally warming up outside and now that editing and half marathon training are in full force. But I did thankfully manage to complete this long overdue hat for my brother-in-law, and since it has kind of an interesting back story, I thought I'd share it.

Knitted Finnish Sisu Hat by A Detailed Palette

Firstly, my brother-in-law is of Finnish descent. He actually went through old family records and genealogy trees to sort out his family tree a few years ago and discovered some of his extended relatives still lived in Finland. He reached out to them somehow; now they email and call each other back and forth, my brother-in-law practicing his Finnish speaking and writing skills along the way. The word Sisu, as seen on the hat, is a Finnish word that does not have an exact translation in English. The closest thing seems to be "guts" or maybe even "gumption". But those words aren't totally right and any Finnish person would probably wrinkle their nose if we tried to use those words to capture the full idea of sisu. It's a mentality that goes beyond just "sticking it out". According to James Clear, it's an unbreakable will and perseverance that you rely on even when you feel that you have nothing left.

Sisu is what I imagine people who finish the Iron Man race rely on when they're in the midst of the race, but it's not just limited to mental toughness in the face of physical challenges. Sisu can be present and witnessed in many different challenges or circumstances.

It's such a cool concept. With Sisu, there is no surrender, no giving up. I think its something that everyone could benefit from having a healthy dose of. Too often, we turn away from things because they are difficult, no matter how rewarding they may be. We turn away from opportunities because they would take a lot of effort or we decide to have a rest day instead of running our speed workout (so guilty of this!). So let's have a little bit more sisu, eh? I know I could use it.

Now, all that remains to be done is send this beauty off to Arizona. Just in time for the summer temps, meaning that I have no idea when my brother-in-law will be able to wear this. Better late than never though, am I right?

-xo, Rachel