Archive for May, 2013

Product Spotlight – Habu Textiles

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

So there’s this little yarn company, called Habu Textiles. You may have heard of them (you may not). In short, really really unique Japanese yarns that are nothing short of artwork in their own right. We get a lot of people oohing and aahing over them, so I wanted to let everyone else get up close and personal.

Habu-Group Shot

From left to right. Top row: Tsumugi A-1 (100% silk), Cotton Gima A-174 (100% cotton), Fine Merino N-75 (100% merino), Silk Stainless A-20 (69% silk, 31% stainless steel), Raw Silk Wrap Steel N-88 (raw silk and steel).
Bottom row: Wrapped Merino 4P N-80 (100% merino with fine silk wrap), Lace Bamboo XS-45 (100% bamboo), Ultrafine Kid Mohair N-52 (68% kid mohair, 32% nylon).

These all come in loads of vibrant colours, but I tried to keep them all neutrals here to show off the texture. Interesting fact, even though these are all listed as laceweight, there is a huge amount of variation between them. Many, when doubled, can serve excellently as a DK or heavier weight yarn. Swatching is, as always, highly recommended.

Shall we get into them each in turn now? If I were in your shoes, I’d just be looking at the pictures, so I’ve just pulled the descriptions from Habu’s own site.

Tsumugi A-1
100% silk with a little spec of colors. It is a very comfortable yarn and feels like cotton. Great to use by itself, strand 3 strands together or mix with another yarn. 2 cones will make a large scarf. 4 cones will make a garment or an extremely large shawl. Good as weft & warp yarn for weaving.

Cotton Gima A-174
Gima means to “fake linen” in Japanese. It feels like linen, but does soften up greatly as soon as you handle or wash it. Only 3-4 balls of this yarn will make a whole garment. Good warp yarn also.

Fine Merino N-75
Extremely soft and fine merino. We use this yarn in many different projects in 1 strands, 2 strands, 3 strands or more together. The color selection is huge and the yardage is huge! You can combine any of those together yourself and create your own color. It will felt well. 1 to 2 cones will make a scarf.

Silk Stainless A-20
Like linen or wool stainless steel yarns, the core is stainless steel and silk is wrapped around it. Because of the stainless steel, there is a memory in the yarn. Create something, twist it around! It will stay in that shape unless you straighten it out. It is probably easiest if you knit this yarn in 2 strands, however a lace stitch in a single strand is beautiful. If you have a difficulty casting on this yarn, please use another similar color/weight cotton or silk thread to cast on first then switch to a single strand on the 3rd row or so. Works fine as a warp yarn for weavers, but it is a bit tricky. If you are just starting to use this yarn, use it as a weft yarn first. 4-5 cones will be a whole knitted garment.

Raw Silk Wrap Steel N-88
This is a fine wrapped stainless steel wrapped in “raw” silk. It is finer than A-20, the other silk stainless steel and is almost translucent. Extremely strong. You can knit this with another yarn. Beautiful as a warp yarn for weaving.

Wrapped Merino 4P N-80
4 strands of fine merino is wrapped in super fine silk. Because it is wrapped, not plied, the colors show in a very subtle way in between each other. Has a good stretch. Perfect garment or bag yarn.

Lace Bamboo XS-45
Such soft yarn… Beautiful sheen… Long awaited dyed version of XS-6. Great yarn for lace projects. 2 skeins will make a large shawl. Perfect as a warp/weft yarn for weavers, too. If you live in a hot humid climate, you will like this yarn. Bamboo yarn is cool against your skin!

Ultrafine Kid Mohair N-52
This is an “extremely” fine kid mohair. The yardage is about twice as much as A-32 silk mohair. A garment can be knitted from just 3-4 balls of this yarn! It is weightless like air. Beautiful as a weaver’s warp, too, but please be careful not to set them too close. It will catch each other.

Whew, congrats if you’ve made it all the way through! Habu yarns are particularly unique, and as such, pretty much impossible to substitute out of a pattern. Thankfully, Habu does offer their own line of patterns (we have some kits in store). Also, Coco Knits does a lot of designs with their yarns, and we have a number of them in-store (namely Anna, Hanna, Ilse, Liesl, Gisela, Paulina, Louisa, Ruby, Sabine, Weekend Wrap, Silke and Maria – whew, again). Also, my personal favourite is Insouciant by Julie Hoover – probably the single most popular pattern of last summer.



Royal Alpaca

Monday, May 27th, 2013

It was sunny this weekend, but somehow still cold. Didn’t I go camping in March? I’m looking for something soft and warm to keep me going. I’m sure summer is coming, I’m sure of it! Until then (and in Vancouver it’s sometimes a long wait) I will have to console myself with Alpaca, Royal Alpaca to be specific.

Aslan Trends Royal Alpaca has long been a favorite around the shop. Kynna’s very favorite, she knit the Summer Flies shawl in it last year. This shawl is amazing, did I say soft yet? It has good stitch definition combined with a little alpaca halo. Just wonderful.

If you need a new soft hat with cable and texture, Molly is a free pattern that will work up beautifully in one skein of warm alpaca. With an array of lovely colors from hunter green to charcoal grey (the yellow with a vintage feel is my favorite of the moment, can you tell?), there is something for everyone!

What will you knit with Royal Alpaca?

The More Things Change…

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Here at Urban Yarns HQ, our go word is ‘change’, and this is reflected in our motto “always something new”.

Well, if you’ve been in the Point Grey store lately, you may have noticed some rearranging and furniture moving going on. Thanks for bearing with us, there’s more to come, and it will be good for ALL of us. Promise.

Our Comfy Couch has been moved into the back nook (our Cozy Comfy Couch?), and the main entrance has been opened up quite a bit, making it easier to find all the new goodies coming in.



Speaking of new goodies, Interweave Knits Summer 2013 and the new Noro magazine are both out!

My personal faves from Interweave (so far, subject to change):

Crosstrees Cardigan (and the only men’s pattern)

Admiral’s Knot Halter

Midsummer Aran

Nova Cardigan

And from Noro:

#10 Square and Stripe Tank

#11 Hourglass Top

Miss Bliss

Monday, May 20th, 2013

It seems these days there is always a baby to knit for. If it’s not my own, there are friends and family starting little families of their own. There is always a little bundle to welcome into the world. As you probably know, I like to say welcome with woolies! Even summer babies need something warm for the evenings, and if you are worried your knitted item won’t get enough wear, just knit a bigger size to fit in the fall. Things are getting a bit crazy actually and I’m thinking about just continuing to cast on, a baby will come along soon enough!

One of my first books of baby knits came from Debbie Bliss. It was Baby Cashmerino 2 and it’s full of adorable knits for little ones. There are, of course, Baby Cashmerino books 1 and 3, and they are also chalk full of adorableness! There are dresses and vests, perfect for spring, or warmer items like sweaters. I also love the cute little animals she includes in every book, bears and bunnies being the most popular.

My personal fave, cables galore!

My personal fave, cables galore!

Each pattern is designed for, you guessed it, Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino yarn. It comes in many colors and Debbie always seems to have her pulse on modern palettes. Not just baby blues, but with a hint of grey or a dusty rose instead of cotton candy pink. I’m most struck (believe it or not) by her neutrals. I love a good steely grey, it makes baby’s skin look good and matches any wardrobe!

Wool People

Monday, May 13th, 2013

The latest installment from Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People is out! Volume 5 has all kinds of stunning knits. Sweaters, shawls, and accessories, something for every knitter. All the patterns in this collection have that signature simple earthy vibe that I adore from Brooklyn Tweed. This edition has designs from all my faves too, Tanis Lavallee, Gudrun Johnston Amy Herzog and Veera Valimaki.



My very favorite pattern is Reverb from Tanis Lavallee. It has a lovely waving stitch detail that looks oh so lovely in a tweedy yarn. With a folded over collar for a relaxed look, this sweater is right up my alley!



Next up is Veera’s shawl, Bolt. With a healthy dose of garter stitch and an interesting construction, this shawl is an instant wardrobe classic. Bolt is adorned with Veera’s favorite stripes in some charming tweedy neutrals.



As with every Brooklyn Tweed production the photography is amazing. Blurred simple backgrounds show off beautiful colors and and excellent stitch definition. The models seem to be having a good time, but they aren’t posed in unnatural ways. Each picture makes me think ‘if I were walking on a farm, THAT’s the sweater I would want to have on’. I just love it!

If you are looking to cast on, swing by and pick up some Harrisville Tweed. It’s the perfect rustic yarn for these springy knits.

Hot Hot Hot

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Boxes. Boxes everywhere. It’s moving time around these parts. Not ‘these parts’ as in the blog or the store, but at my house. Not moving far, just part-way across town, but the current state of affairs here is lots and lots of boxes. Some full. A worrying amount still empty. Long story short, forgive the slow posting.

In other news, it has been hot here in Vancouver. Aech – Oh – Tee – HOT. At least for this time of year. So with thoughts turning to summertime and easy living, we get lots of questions about what to knit with in the warmer months.

Cotton? Silk? Hemp? Rayon? Viscose? Linen? All fine, even good options, so long as you know what to expect from them. If you’re interested in learning about the properties and traits of these fibres, and how to get the best out of them, I would highly recommend getting a copy of No Sheep For You, by Amy Singer (of Knitty fame).

For now, I will say that linen (sometimes branded as flax yarn) is a really great summer yarn. It’s got some neat properties, softens up fantastically with extended wear, and knits up a lot like cotton (that is, lots of drape, a bit heavy, definitely not for a form-fitting sweater, but great for a beach cover-up).

We stock a pretty solid count of linen and linen-blend yarns. Some favourites include Rowan Creative Linen (50% linen, 50% cotton, worsted weight), Classic Elite Soft Linen (35% linen, 35% wool, 30% alpaca, Dk weight), Louet Euroflax (100% linen, sport or lace weight), and Louet Kidlin Lace (49% linen, 35% mohair, 16% nylon, lace weight)

Rowan Creative Linen

Classic Elite Soft Linen

Louet Euroflax

Louet Kidlin Lace


Sunday, May 5th, 2013
Happy Street

Happy Street

I love stripes. They are bold and graphic in any size or combination. They can be modern or classic, it just depends how you arrange and color them. Small or large, vertical or horizontal, straight or curvy, there are just so many ways to do stripes! One of my favorite designers, Veera Valimaki offers several great patterns with a decidedly stripey theme. With warm weather here I’m ready to cast on for a stripey shawl!

Different Lines

Different Lines

Stripes offer a a great opportunity for color play as well. Mixing and matching can be so much fun. You can go with a neutral palette, a strong punch of color, or even varying shades of the same color (greeny blues anyone?). Each of these shawls are worked with some short rows and some great color choices. You can knit one in any weight, but I’m thinking sock for mine….definitely some Tosh Merino Light. Check out our selection of bold colors for the season, perfect to punch up any outfit!

Stripe Study

Stripe Study