Knitting with Paper

Have you ever knit with paper? I hadn’t until this week when I broke into a beautiful cone of ITO Urugami. I’ve always admired the ITO yarn at Knit Purl. The packaging is clean and simple, the colors are eye-catching, and the yarn content is very unique. What makes ITO’s Urugami yarn so special? It’s composed of a twisted, airy paper core that is wrapped in soft, fluffy wool.

The concept of knitting with paper and wool was difficult to wrap my brain around. What would I be able to make out of it? What would it look like once in fabric form? Would it turn into papier-mâché when introduced to water? These are a few questions that kept me admiring Urugami from afar—until this week.

I was once again gazing at Urugami as if it was a piece of fine art when I finally gave in and made the purchase. I had no project in mind for the yarn, I just needed to take it home and try it out. I was working on my Yoga Shawl when I decided to pick up my new sleek cone of Urugami and knit a simple stockinette swatch.

The yarn was nothing like how I expected. For some reason I thought it would feel like knitting with linen—slightly rough. This was not the case at all. The yarn was a little stiff when being unwound off the cone, but it was soft to the touch when being worked in my hands. The finished swatch was also not what I was expecting. I thought the paper core would cause it to not have any elasticity, but I was wrong. The fabric is stretchy and bouncy, with a nice drape, and clear stitch definition. I’m also happy to say that my swatch didn’t turn into a papier-mâché project gone wrong when I submerged it in water. The care label did say hand-wash, but I was doubtful, and then happily proven wrong.

Paper textiles have a long tradition in Japan, and they are very much like silk in that they're cooling in summer, and warming in winter. Knowing this helped me come up with my first project idea for Urugami. Last summer I made the Otherside tank out of Shibui Linen, and I’m now playing with the idea of making another using Urugami, with one small modification—making it into a dress. I’m also a little obsessed with the colorway Marine, and might have to knit a shawl/wrap before getting to my dress.

February 12, 2016 by Laura Oriana Konstin
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