I’ve admired Habu yarns for a few years now. Habu, a Japanese company, makes possibly the most interesting yarns around: silk and stainless steel, linen ‘paper’, cotton, cashmere, and mohair…and in amazingly harmonious colours and neutrals. But I’ve never knit anything with it, maybe because it seems more art object than yarn.

knit habu by Vanessa at Coloursknits

L. and I visited Urban Yarns last night for a presentation by Takako of Habu Textiles. I had no idea, but apparently Japanese knitting instructions are often very different from North American and European instructions – so different that Takako gave a little workshop on how to read them! The ingenious little diagrams, often fitting on just one page, contain nearly all the information you need to knit the pattern, instead of long pages of wordy instructions. I think the Japanese approach to knitting is a bit different in general; the finer details (such as which increase or decrease to use, or where to put it in the row) are left to the knitter. It’s like using a road map instead of a chirpy GPS – you choose your own route and get there however you like.

Washi & tsumugi silk coat from Hand-Knit Works by Setsuko Torii

The yarn seems to represent its own aesthetic, with Habu patterns often having a distinctive architectural look that emphasizes texture and drape. It turns out, after I watched a dozen excited women trying on the many samples that Takako brought with her, that this texture and drape make for almost universally flattering fits. We were a good-looking bunch, walking around the store in the Habu garments! Of course I didn’t take my camera. But I think I may try the Arcus pullover soon…

Arcus Pullover by Olga Buraya-Kefelian. Image from ori ami knits