For centuries, humans have been adapting fibers to their needs. Many animal fibers have become staples for those who knit, weave, crochet and work with textiles — wool, alpaca, yak, cashmere, mink, even possum. Plant fibers have been used as well, turning them into wearable, durable cottons, linens, and even bamboo yarns. It may seem like we’ve reached capacity in creative fiber development, especially when it comes to knitting — but there are still companies pushing the boundaries of what yarns make good fabrics, and what fabrics make beautiful garments. Habu Textiles, a Japanese yarn manufacturer, continues to sit on the cutting edge of unusual, delicate, and interesting fiber application.
A wide selection of materials is what sets Habu apart as a company. We adore their futuristic approach to knitting, but the yarns are also wonderful for a range of applications — jewelry makers, weavers, dyers, and other artisans have all produced beautiful creations with Habu’s unique fibers. We thought it might be fun to explore some of the Habu yarns featured on Knit Purl’s shelves, since the number one question when someone picks up a cone or skein in the store is “what can I make with this?”
Before we start listing the yarns and their qualities, it’s important to note that Habu truly embraces the endless versatility not only of individual yarns, but also the combination of yarns to create new textures. (This type of customization reminds us of Shibui’s Mix concept.) Don’t be afraid to play around, mixing and matching the yarns until you find something that suits you!
This yarn is a bit stiff on the cone — 100% cotton and multi-plied, Aresco’s true beauty can’t be revealed until the final fabric is washed and blocked. Garter stitch and other simple textured stitches shine. Interweave Knits featured this yarn not long ago for their Boteh Scarf, a winding neck piece by Kathy Merrick. Habu recommends this yarn as an ideal warp for weaving, as well.
One of the most-stashed Habu yarns on Ravelry, this yarn’s texture is supposed to mimic the drape and structure of linen. In a collection of bright colors, this 100% cotton yarn drapes beautifully in garments, making it a favorite for summer-weight tops and tunics.
This yarn is technically a single strip of paper. Linen is stronger when wet, and since this paper is specifically designed for garment and textile use, it won’t dissolve when washed. Finished pieces have a fantastic lightness — this quality has made this yarn a favorite for Julie Weisenberger’s Liesl tunic.
Made of 80% wool with just a touch of linen to add texture, this yarn has a refreshing singles structure with sheen and strength. The Fringe Association, a beautiful blog that focuses on the simple pleasures of knitting, created their Wabi Mitts pattern out of this blend.
Similar to other stainless-steel blends by Habu Textiles, this yarn creates garments that are slightly moldable, making it a fun and interesting new fiber for all types of fiber artists. Choose a pattern with simple stockinette and scrunch the fabric, bending and folding to produce new shapes.
It’s not surprising that the original application of this blend was industrial. We particularly love this modification to Shibui Knits’ Gradient cowl, featuring both Habu’s Silk Stainless Steel and Shibui’s Silk Cloud used in conjunction.
100% stainless steel, spun at the finest gauge possible — smaller than cobweb! Although it seems natural to consider its use double-stranded, don’t forget that this yarn is also often used for knitting fine, lightweight jewelry pieces.
A softer version of Silk Stainless steel, featuring 75% wool and 25% stainless steel. To fully highlight all of the potential, knit on large needles or work a pattern featuring open panels of lace. Sit back and be amazed as your stitches, delicate and thin, become surprisingly sculptable.
100% copper, ideal for carrying along or knitting jewelry with a rosy glow. We recently featured this yarn in use for Olgajazzy’s Tabi Mittens — the conductive properties of the metal made it ideal for duplicate-stitching onto the tips of gloves that would be used on touch screens!
Shiny and sleek. This yarn is different from Habu’s stainless steel blends — the bamboo surrounds a copper core, making this yarn soft to the touch but still sculptural. Choose a pattern that would normally have drape but choose where the curves fall! A plain stockinette scarf takes on a new identity when pinched every six inches.
Ramie, a fiber produced from nettles, is not often seen in yarn stores. We love this yarn in airy garments, and the textural quality also makes for lovely functionality. Habu recommends trying this yarn for knotted bags, crochet, or even macrame as well.
An unusual fiber, this paper yarn is wrapped but not covered in shiny silk threads. The contrast color wrapping creates visually beautiful fabrics, while the crisp and papery texture helps finished garments stand out in a crowd. We’ve toyed with pairing this yarn alongside Shibui Knits’ newest addition, Kavo.
(We say it ‘ts-moo-gee.’) This yarn adds weight and pairs nicely with lace knits — substantial, tweedy, and unusual. With a fantastic color range, double-stranding alongside a solid also yeilds lovely results. This yarn is a favorite for garments, especially those with some drape and relaxed structures. Aptly named, we loved this adaptation of Relax, an Amirisu magazine pattern by Ririko.
This 100% wool, cobweb-weight yarn is slightly overplied and then starched. Upon finishing your knitted or woven piece (weavers, Habu suggestes a sectional cross-beam for stability), blocking will reveal an unusual effect, shrinking the yarn 20% – 40% from the original size. What fun experiments could you think up in this unusual yarn?
Merino wrapped with the finest threads of silk, adding just a bit of visual texture to this lace-weight yarn. While the inner merino will bloom after washing, the finished fabric will retain all the shine of the silk, creating dimensional fabrics out of your finished knits.
The closest Habu Textiles gets to a ‘workhorse’ yarn. This lightweight wool fulfills any desire for multiple-stranded knits, with a color palette that allows for endless possibility. This is our number one choice for pairing with any of the more unusual Habu yarns — add a little familiarity while you think outside the box! This yarn also knits up beautifully solo, creating fine-gauge garments that will look fresh off the runway.
Luxurious cashmere in lighter-than-air strands. Perfect for weaving or fine knits that will stay stunning and soft for years to come.