Noro is a beautiful yarn line from Japan, which KFI is proud to distribute to American knitters and crocheters.
The yarns in the Noro line range from soft to rustic and textures in between. Fibers including wool, kid mohair, silk, cotton, and angora are all used in varying proportions to create the different yarns.
But what Noro is really known for is its colors. Fabulous colors from muted earth tones to bright rainbows are combined in a stunning mix that surprises and delights.
Many people consider Noro yarns to be on the level of art and, like art, they elicit passionate responses both for and against.
Of course, I fall into the Noro Yarn Love camp.
Our relationship has developed slowly, but the more I learn the deeper my love becomes. I first encountered Noro Yarns when I was working in a local yarn store. The unique colors and interesting textures stood out on the shelves and caught my eye.
Since working for KFI, I’ve found out more about the way Noro Yarns are produced and it has made me appreciate the artistic qualities of these yarns more. The PDF “The Manufacturing of Noro From Farm to Product” (which you can download here) is a fascinating look at their process. Sometimes understanding more about a product can change your perspective on it.
The report explains Eisaku Noro, the line’s founder, takes steps to ensure “all manufacturing processes are checked to eliminate any adverse effects on the environment and on people.”
In an industrialized world, Noro takes a hands-on approach to yarn manufacturing. “Nowadays, almost all spinning process is done by machine, but at NORO Yarn, machines are used only when the process cannot be done by hand. First of all, we spin wool by hand and then knit them by hand and check its knitted texture,” he writes in his introduction to the report.
Isn’t that great? Hand-spun yarn! The Noro staff also frequently hand-card the fibers when aligning the colors for spinning. It’s a labor intensive process, but they prefer it because it is gentle on the fibers.
Saying that yarn binds us all together may sound trite, but as yarn is gliding through my fingers as I knit I do sometimes ponder the many people who have touched it before me. Knitting and crocheting are not solitary practices.
Sourced With Care
When we stop to think of the effort that went into bringing us yarn we can’t help but take a global perspective. Some stitchers are very interested in knowing where their yarn came from and the conditions in which is was produced. Other just enjoy the finished product and don’t need a back story. The internet (and websites like Ravelry) can help us find out.
As I learned while reading the report, Noro sources fibers from all over the world, from England to Australia and South Africa to Peru. The Pima cotton they use is produced in San Joaquin County, California. Practically our own backyard!
“We ourselves visit the places of origin for some of the raw materials and closely examine the farms and their environment,” the report says. As evidenced by this picture of Eisaku Noro sitting among the South African goats that produce the kid mohair used in his yarns.
Environmentally friendly detergents are used to scour the wool and in many cases the animals are raised in an area free from agricultural chemicals. Recycling and energy conservation are also priorities at their facility in Japan. It’s always nice to see a company producing a quality product while being responsible stewards of the environment.
“With Warm Hearts”
But in everything I read in the report, the line that really resonated with me was, “We consider that to be truly handmade is to make yarns not only by hand but also with warm hearts, thinking of our customers who use our yarns.”
This attitude is very similar to my own thoughts on my crafting. Like most people, I do a lot of my knitting and crocheting while watching TV or at my knitting group. It’s a secondary activity and my hands are often moving on their own. But when I’m making a gift for someone I always try to take some time to think about them, as though my happy thoughts will seep into the project I’m making and be released when my loved ones uses it.
Who knows? Maybe they do.
And maybe the care and energy Eisaku Noro and his staff put into making the yarns we enjoy gives them a vibrancy we can’t detect with just our eyes and hands.
If you love Noro yarns, there are plenty of places online for you to chat with like minded people. You can share pictures of projects you made using Noro yarns with us on our Facebook pages for Noro or Knitting Fever. On Ravelry the Nuts For Noro Group is very active.
If you are just learning about Noro you can test the waters using this free pattern for a Teddy Bear designed by Debbie Bliss. (The Bunny Pattern will be released at a future date.) It takes just one skein of Noro Kureyon, a 100% wool yarn.
Teddy Bears not your style? Then check out the free pattern for the Cowslip hat and scarf designed by Jane Ellison (look for the “download pattern” link under the big picture on the left). They are knit using Noro Silk Garden, a 45% Silk, 45% Mohair, 10% Lambswool blend.
Now that you know more about Noro Yarns go ahead and succumb to the colors.