When I lived in Hong Kong, I got to see many examples of Japanese art. Ranging from the elegant use of very minimal, distilled elements through to the richly textured and coloured, it never failed to leave me in a state of fascinated wonder.
In the knitting world, Noro ranks right up there as a master example of the Japanese use of colour and texture. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Eisaku Noro is a genius. I love, love, love, love his yarns.
Although I have a few Noro scarves and mitts, after I saw the Noro wardrobe of an acquaintance of mine, I have lusted after a Noro garment of my very own!
The other day, I was perusing Ravelry and came across a very cute vest. Sock yarn. Hmm. Stripes. Hmmm. What about that mouth-watering Noro Silk Garden Sock I have sitting in my wool collection begging to be used????
I was slightly worried though – the pattern called for 800m of yarn, and I had 600m of this particular Noro colourway (S245). What to do? Studying the various colours in the ball carefully, I realised that one of them perfectly matched some Rowan Fine Tweed I recently acquired in a swap. Could I add a little Rowan into the mix to eke the yarn out? The yarn weights and textures were reasonably similar. I also noticed I had another Noro colourway that contained complementary colours that I could selectively use…
I needn’t have worried though. I’ve found that this vest can be knitted from two balls of Noro for a medium-sized person. But better to feel safe than have that constant niggle at the back of the mind of “no more yarn!” while knitting. Don’t you just hate that when it happens?
I think it’s turned out okay:
The pattern is okay, but if I had been a bit more clever about it, I would have made a number of adjustments to it, including the finishing around the armholes and neck. If you’d like to read my project notes, I have Raveled it here.
What do I love so much about Noro? For one, the colour of course. Stunning colours that are harmonious blends or unexpected juxtapositions that surprise and delight – often all in one ball. The photographs of this project display the seamless way the colours blend from one colour in the ball through to another by gentle blending during the carding process, but yet in other instances, you have distinct changes of colour. I love the long repeats of colour too, so that you get a self-striping project, rather than the melange of colour that often occurs in multi-coloured yarn once it’s knitted. There’s a purity to it that appeals to me.
The other facet is texture: I adore the organic texture, the effect of the blend of the various fibres in the yarn. The thick/thin spin makes it interesting to knit and produces a garment with textural interest.
For three: it’s mostly natural fibre.
This all adds up to a superb artisan yarn. Still primarily hand-crafted, Noro yarn is a stunning example of Japanese master craftsmanship.
It’s little wonder that Noro is a fixture in the Top 10 of stashed yarns on Ravelry.
I’ll leave you with more examples of the gorgeousness that is Noro: