July 31, 2007

Janet's Kusha/Kushu Scarf

I've finally started my own Kusha/Kushu after enabling a handful of others by posting tempting photos of spools of silky steel and merino. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoy knitting this wispy steel/merino scarf. For a while now, I've had the desire to knit with unusual, unique fibers and Habu fills that desire nicely. A scarf like this is a great introduction to the creative genius that is Setsuko Torii. I first fell in love with the Habu aesthetic and enthusiasm the first time I visited their site a few years ago.

It's interesting to me that so many knitters ask . . . why? Why Habu?

The answer is on their site:

Why? do we bother to take so much time and labor... actually
weaving or knitting fabrics when there are so many
high quality machine woven fabrics. They are durable,
good looking, inexpensive... Why?

Because we must stubbornly believe
all the care our actual hands give to each and every process
of making a length of fabric creates something more
than just a good look. It may be so subtle, but you know when
you wear and touch. You know when that fabric ages with you,
and you look at it twenty years from now.

We believe the same with yarns. They are the soul of fabrics.
Without ones made with good care, the fabrics will not live long.
We would like to offer you the best and unusual yarns
imported from Japan, rarely available in this country.
It took us many trips and years to cultivate the relationships with
the suppliers and discover the yarns. You do not have to do that.
They are here! There are over 450 selections and they include
raw silks from 14 denier, hamp bark, bamboo, hand-tied ramies,
cashmere with almost no twist, naturally gold silks,
handspun silks/cottons, silk stainless steel, fine silver, etc...

When somebody doesn't understand, it's truly impossible to answer . . . why? As for me, it's a connection to my past -- to another knitter:

I think she would understand.

July 22, 2007

Baby Steps

Before the summer of 2004 I was a relatively new knitter who'd never heard of Habu. That is, until I ran into an overwhelmingly interesting article on knitting with out-of-the-ordinary yarns, e.g., paper, stainless steel, and corn, in the Summer 04 issue of Interweave Knits magazine. I immediately fell in love with the idea of knitting with such unique fibers, but while it all sounded incredibly enthralling, back then I could barely get my run-of-the-mill wool stitches to behave, so I stored the intimidating magazine away, hoping to someday become a brave-enough knitter.

Three years later I still dream of making the bag that accompanies the Knitting Out of the Pantry article, especially now that the pattern no longer reads like a foreign language to me: Knot A Knitted Paper Bag (Setsuko Torii) A-1 Tsumugi Silk (100% silk; 455 yd [415 m]/50 g): #02 medium gray, about 3 oz (85 g). A-62 Paper Moire (50% linen, 50% nylon; 1080 yd [988 m]/1oz [28 g]): #05 mocha, #08 brown, and #06 charcoal, 2 oz (57 g) each. Yarn distributed by Habu Textiles.

In the meantime, I’ve started working on my first Habu project: a wonderfully sculptural piece that behaves as if it were alive, a.k.a. the Kusha Kusha scarf.

To say that I'm in love with the play of the silk stainless steel and merino wool used to make this scarf would be an offensive understatement. Yet, I am still a little nervous about the whole process…mainly because after seeing so many beautiful Kushas, I want mine to be just as stunning.

Nonetheless, my Kusha keeps growing. And as I get closer to the end, and start to worry about the felting process, Olga's words of wisdom have started to sink in: “It's OK! Every Kusha is unique. You are studying art; you of all people should know that we are all unique and that you are giving the thread, the fiber, YOUR mold.”

Ay, Olga. Where would my Kusha and I be without you?

Baby steps, people, baby steps.

July 19, 2007

Habu Haiku

Light gossamer strands
of architectural air
feel so substancial.

So, this is my first experience with Habu. I wasn't sure what to think of it at first. I'm doing a kinda-sorta-kusha kusha scarf using the silk stainless and extra fine merino. I plan to have a bit of the silk stainless by itself on both ends of the scarf, not just on one end the way the pattern suggests. The thread...er, yarn...was so fine that it took me awhile to adjust. Several stitches cascaded off the needle a few times, and it was a bit of a challenge to recover lost stitches. But once I got used to these fibers...wow! They're so fun! I keep wanting to play with the scarf instead of knitting on with it. And I know that once it's felted, it'll be even more irresistable.

This is obviously not going to be a warm scarf, which is good, since I've recently moved to a warmer climate. It'll be more of an early spring accessory, I think, so I chose springy colors. The silk stainless is #1, white, and the merino is #40, a grassy green.


July 18, 2007

time to swatch

A few years ago I went to New York and was lucky enough to visit Habu headquarters. It was very exciting and I bought a few items. All the scarf kits have been worked up and given away as gifts, the funky lunch bag turned into a hat and some of the cottons became swatches but not finished objects. In honor of this new blog I think it's time to finally get to work on this fascinating linen (#N-3). It's dry like straw and I have 850 yards...can't wait to begin experimenting but maybe somebody has a good idea for a project too.

Habu is peace.

My Habu Story

I am cheap. Seriously. I do not like spending money. When I first started knitting and started reading blogs and found out how much people spent on yarn I considered quitting and learning how to do oragami or something that did not require such a dire hit to my already slim pocketbook.

However I slowly graduated from my mom's old stash, to acrylic
s from michael's (with the 40% off coupon - of course), to knitpicks, to elann's, to random ebay bids, to looking for discount yarn that I craved. Then one day I went with Olga and Ava to a HUGE YARN SALE. And we bought nothing. During lunch Ava showed me her Habu catalog and I started to drool, and swoon, and want to have some Habu. What a completely etheral, unique and absolutely wonderful array of completely unexpected knitting materials. But I held back from buying, because, I am cheap.

Then I kept seeing all these wonderful Habu FO's all over blogland and I gave in. Olga sorta kinda convinced me to get some gorgeous tsumugi silk. I was so busy with work and it sat in my secret hiding spot for yarn for a few weeks. I felt that I would not be able to give it the time it deserved. Is that weird? Maybe. But I had resisted the Habu for so long I was not going to knit it up just like that!

I started my Habu tunic a week ago today. I am loving the drapeyness of the fabric so far, it is going to be so soft and flowy and completely not like anything I have made before. I cannot knit it fast enough.

So, even if it is a little bit more expensive, and I cannot use my 40% coupon from michaels on Habu, I am a convert.

July 17, 2007

kitty: Avril Book References

Thanks to the wonderful help of my Sister-in-Law, she helped me track down all of the ISBN's for the titles listed on the Avril site. So I though I would post the information to serve as a reference for everyone to find additional patterns to use your Habu treasures. Some of the patterns for the kits are actually included in some of the titles. Rendezvous with Lovely Yarn Delicate little projects actually includes the pattern for Kit-60 picot bubble stitch scarf in the form of a belt.

Setsuko Torii Hand Knit Works

143 pages - 2006/09

ISBN-10: 4895113825

more - Avril Site - From Habu with Translation Coming Soon

Rendezvous with Lovely Yarn Delicate little projects

Avril Yarn Shop

84 pages - 2005/11

ISBN-10: 4277430686

More - Avril Site

Loosely Translated - Seeing Lovely Threads To Wear
& Playing with shapes to make small articles

Avril Yarn Shop

87 pages - 2007/02

ISBN-10: 4277172091

Avril Site

(If anyone has a better translation, please let me know. The vocabulary was
really hard for me in this title)

Gifts from the Sheep - Handweaving

Avril Yarn Shop

143 page - 2005/10

ISBN-10: 4895113728

Avril Site

Gifts to Give - Handweaving

Avril Yarn Shop

143 pages - 2004/11

ISBN-10: 4895113582

Avril Site

Plain Weaving

by Misao Iwamura

Bunka Publishing 2002

From Habu with Translation

July 12, 2007

Kit # 74 - Angora and Cotton Pullover

Usually I stick to knitting one item at a time but as I'm going to be away for 5 weeks I swatched and felted for the Habu Kit # 74 (Angora and Cotton Pullover). I'll work on both at the same time and felt and assemble them when I return.

If you've been interested in using the Habu yarns for a sweater but been a bit intimidated by them the angora and cotton would be a great place to start. The fiber is more traditionlly yarn like and less sproingy than the stainless steel silk. The drape and softness is amazing too.

I used 6mm needles (US 10) and got 50% length shrinkage again and hardly any width shrinkage. Because I like narrow sleeves I'll cast on 35 stitches for each sleeve, knit 9 inches straight and then begin the sleeve increases - likely one each side every sixth row.

For those who have heard the Habu patterns are hard to follow I have to say this isn't my experience of them. After taking a few minutes to understand how it's all laid out it's quite logical.

July 11, 2007

Shippo "Tail" Scarf

First, thanks again everyone for such an amazing response to joining this group and active posting . I am sure we will have lots of fun in here! I thought that my personal blog has been overflowing with Habu, taking and sharing and expanding my obsession for it here proves it.
I want to start by showing off couple of my recently finished objects from Habu. Couple weeks ago me and Vanessa has a chance to go to NYC and visit the Habu Studio itself.

me and VanessaHabu Textiles

As you walk in, on the floor there this amazing amount of little baskets/bins that are having leftover yarn/mystery bags to pick, so called Bargain Bins. I had been wanting to get my hands on one of other scarves from Habu textiles, after I have finished my Kusha Kusha scarf not that long ago.
And as it's a small project I felt secure enough to pick some fun colours to go together for a Shippo "Tail" Scarf.
I was lucky enough and with a great enabler, I have picked some possibilities.

Shippo tail from the  bargain basket

The yarn that you see are Habu Bamboo Tape A-157 1/6 in white, Habu Linen Paper A-60 in light grey, Habu Frisbee A-19 2/28 in grey and cream.
As one can imagine working with so many colors was fun and still very quick, Shippo was made in one day. The only tricky part was weaving those papery ends as they are not very much willing to lay flat. But it all comes to sense when I washed it and just let it hang to dry. One can also spot another shiny yarn in the scarf though, I had found some DMC Metallic Embroidery Thread (8.7 yds) lying around and as it was close to the colorways, as I did follow the Habu pattern that stated: "Please be creative"! So I threw that accent in. I am yet to photograph it wearing it, but it's a great summer scarf or almost an oversized necklace.

'ShippoYarn details of the scarf

July 10, 2007

"Kusha" Shawl

I bought some Habu spiral slub at Stitches East last year and had no idea what I'd do with this green thread of a yarn flecked with tiny pink fuzzy stuff.

Habu A-172 1/14 Spiral Slub, color 5

So when I saw all the Kusha Kusha scarves and shawls out there, I knew I wanted to knit this thread with wool stainless steel yarn to make a shawl like this one.

I'm knitting it on US 6 Addi Lace Turbos and I can feel the stainless steel ominously scraping against the metal of the needles, but I really need those sharp points to easily pick up the stitches. The first few rows looked like this:

Habu Stainless Shawl

The pink slubbies are more subtle in natural light and now it looks like this:

Habu Stainless Shawl

It is fun to shape and form it and mesmerizing to knit. I can't imagine that it will be in the least bit warm, but will be a nice and unusual accessory.

Kusha Kusha Jacket

The FO likely won't appear here until September as I'll be away from a computer and the washing machine I'll use to felt this but here's the first half of the first sleeve of a Kusha Kusha jacket.

Tried four different needle types before settling on Clover bamboo circulars. Metal needles turned out to be too slippery. The bamboo circulars are just right. Using size 5.5mm.
I don't often get gauge but instead did 2 large swatches, felted them both and then got out the calculator to redo the increases/decreases.
Cast on 38 stitches for the sleeve as I want the sleeves narrow.
A few more details can be found at http://www.knitsane.squarespace.com/

kitty: KIT 51 kid mohair cape - FO

Thank you so much Olga, for inviting me to this KAL!! So here goes my first Habu FO posting for the site.

The colour is melon, and as I found almost impossible to photograph.

Item#:KIT 51 kid mohair cape
Content:80% mohair, 18% wool, 2% nylon
Price: $39.00
Bought it from a merchant
at the Knitters Connection Merchant room.
Photo from Habu's Site

I had been playing with the pattern for a while and really running into a lot of problems. The cape is essentially done in 4 pieces. I had done the bottom two pieces and tried them on and really didn't like how they fell on me. I thought that it looked too small for my scale. Then entered the fear that if I did them to the proper scale I wouldn't have enough yarn in the kit. (I ended up with only 40 inches on both balls.)

So I decided to start with the knitted section and then work my way down. That way I would have the control to make it the proper scale, and also if I didn't have enough yarn to finish the next row I could just stop. Once nice thing about crochet is that there is no binding off.

One warning I would give you if you try to make the cape is the knitting needle size in the pattern for US size is wrong. The actual size is somewhere between a 10 and an 11 not the 6 or 7 that they tell you to use in the pattern. I pulled out a Japanese chart to compare the mm to the US charts. I also could never find a chart to what a size 15 Japanese crochet hook is in US sizes. Since the 15 in US sizes is way to small.

I constructed the cape by knitting the collar and then just casting on directly from the bound off edge for the body. I essentially followed the increases in the pattern but increased 2 extra stitches in the front and back on every other opposite rows for increases.

The total construction time once I decided to do it this way took about 2 hours to finish and then another 2 days to block dry.

Sorry the colours are really off. They were taken in the basement since really wearing mohair in 98 degree weather just isn't going to happen.

warming up

...with some Tassar Silk. I did find it a little difficult to wind that squeaky little yarn muffin;

I just love the packaging, the twisting, the shine, everything. But I did it.

I'm starting off with the silk version of the Pashmina Cowl from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. Even though I have less than the yardage called for, I'm just going to knit until I run out.

This should hold me over until I can get my hands on a kit for a jacket, probably either the linen paper jacket or the lamb wool linen jacket. Do any of you know anything regarding the availability of the kits? Are they hard to come by? I will hopefully be going to Midwest Stitches next month; if they don't have either of these kits for sale there, I'm sure there will be something there that I will love. Most likely something(s).

July 7, 2007

:: Let's Start! ::

Boys and Gals, we have a Knitalong! Why one would ask, the amount of just pictures in Habu Textiles Flickr group is overflowing and I bet I am not the only one to hear what other person is making with this unique yarn. So there you have it!
There is no time limits, no start/end dates, we are all here who knit with Habu/Avril yarn whether it is your own design or knitting their kits or even if you use Habu yarn as a substitute for any other knitting patterns. Here we will try to share all cool, interesting, necessary information, experience, sales and news I welcome you to do so as well!
To join KAL please email me at jasmine dot oleary at gmail dot come to be invited.
You need to have a blog in order to join, but if you are not a regular blogger or have your blog hosted outside blogger but still wish to write here about your Habu adventures simply register on blogger and you will be able to join!

We are no affiliated with the company itself, we are just here for the love of Habu Yarn!