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There’s a chill in the air that signals that bittersweet end to summer. Like most knitters, I love fall more than the other seasons combined. So here’s a knit that celebrates end-of-summer dress-wearing, when you might need something to keep you warm out on the patio, drink in hand, Christmas lights twinkling…

This shrug has been sent to Urban Yarns where it will be on display for the next six months or so – my first store sample! It was a bit of a gamble on my part: I asked Anina what was on her sample wish list for the store; she immediately brought back a ball of Millais yarn and pattern book. I chose this shrug because it promised to be quick and interesting to knit, and it was.

I’m a bit embarrassed to say that the pattern calls for the yarn Rossetti by the same company (Louisa Harding), and I just assumed it was for Millais…and didn’t realize this until the shrug was completely finished. Luckily, it turned out to be a pretty good substitute, only having a little less drape than the Rossetti.

Pattern: Ribbon by Louisa Harding (Ravelry link here)
Yarn: Louisa Harding Millais (50% wool, 50% acrylic) in Peacock

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For a number of reasons, I’ve been away from the blog for the last few weeks. There have been some changes around here, to say the least. I:

1. Left my job – what I considered my first grownup, long-term job – at a landscape architecture office in Vancouver. It was just time. That’s not to say it was an easy decision, but I think it was the right one…I’d been thinking about it for awhile, and I’ve got lots of plans, both non-work (fixing the damn kitchen faucet, making progress on the exercise front, cooking healthy food again) and work (trying out some business ideas, designing, knitting).

2. Signed up for a summer typography class at Emily Carr. What can I say, being a student is what I do best.

While on Granville Island, I had to swing past Maiwa Supply and look at their Manos display. Just to look. Juuuust looking…

3. Picked up some knitting again – both the birthday socks and casting on a Damson shawl (shown in the top photo) with the Madelinetosh I was so excited about a few months ago. It’s hard to say how it will come out; the individual blues, browns, and greys are amazing but I worry a bit about the mud effect.

Urban Yarns is hosting a Clapo-tea Party on May 6, but just to be different I think I’ll bring my Damson shawl. Speaking of Urban Yarns –

Kynna gets ahold of my camera and photodocuments Urban Yarns sample monsters

So all in all the spring cleaning has been a bit extreme this year, but needed. Sometimes I think that people my age have a kind of learned-ADD; being taught we have so many options and that we can do whatever we want to do, we’ve taken it to the extreme and can’t settle on just one or two things.  I can’t comment on whether that’s good or bad – I’m just an in-progress demo. But it feels right to have all these changes happen this spring, doesn’t it?

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

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