Love is not perfect.
Let me be totally clear. I love Noro Yarns! But like any other relationship, it has its ups and downs.
The thing I love most about Noro yarns is the beautiful colours; the gradual evolution of the colours and the length of the repeats.
Here are a few examples of the projects I have made with lovely Noro Yarns.
First off, of course, is the popular Newfoundland Mitts. The beautiful colours of the noro yarn makes an interesting pattern, lovely. Don’t want so many colours? Just use a solid colour for the B yarn… Or how about using the Noro Yarn as the main colour and making all the little honey combs a solid colour?
Next is my Mitred Crosses Blanket, also an interesting pattern made even lovelier by the careful selection of colours from the Noro Kureyon yarn. This pattern was a fund raiser for Mercy Corps. Please look at this page of all the blankets made with Noro yarns. They are absolutely breath taking! Although I love this throw, I now wish I had not decided to pick and choose colours for the crosses but left the natural sequence.
I love this Noro Striped Scarf by Jared Flood, it alternates between two different colourways of the Noro Silk Garden yarn. It looks fabulous and somewhat difficult but is really a simple knit (I wouldn’t define it as easy however as the pattern is worked in 1×1 rib which can be a pain but you do get used to it). Noro has a way of making simple patterns look complex. It can jazz up a simple scarf or hat with little effort. Noro can make you look like a genius master knitter! I am sorry the picture is so dark. I really must work on my photo taking skills.
Finally we have a little bag I knit and felted for a bag exchange a number of years ago. The pattern is simple yet the colour repeats make the project look so special!! Noro Kureyon felts wonderfully and keeps its colours beautifully.
Ok so now for the ‘hate ‘ part. It’s not really hate, more of a heavy dislike. The yarn quite often has debris mixed in which is quite disappointing in an expensive yarn. Disappointing but NOT the end of the world!! I certainly buy and use yarns with debris all the time and I have no trouble but it usually does not cost me $10 (or more) for a 50 gm, 100 metre ball.
The other thing that has me growling is the fact that once in a while you come across a knot in a skein where the yarn has been joined. In other plainer yarns this is not a problem for me, I know several ways to join yarns invisibly so…. no issues. However with Noro, a knot interrupts the flow of colours. In some cases takes out a whole colour section or two.
Also the actual colour placement in each ball can be quite different, no doubt due to a sudden length of yarn being eliminated somewhere as in the case above. All of a sudden the bright yellow is no longer in the centre of the yarn ball but on the outside. No problem for one skein patterns but if you are using more than one it would be nice for the repeats to be fairly even.
Now, I’m not an unreasonable person and I do realize that the mass production of yarn is fraught with issues us home spinners would never face. Yes, of course threads break, yet the factory cannot shut down the line and Russian join the two ends for a knot free strand. No doubt they have to hurry to find the offending strand and quickly make it better, perhaps losing many yards in the process. Production runs on and the automatic skein makers carry on regardless of the knot.
I have found a very interesting short video concerning Eisaku Noro, the company named after the man behind Noro yarns. In it you can see the older machinery used to make the yarns.
I have read other peoples’ complaints of Noro yarn such as coarseness or scratchiness but really, the coarseness you may feel when you knit is gone after it is washed and blocked. The yarn blooms and relaxes and feels perfectly all right. Remember, wool is not inherently super soft. There are some sheep breeds, such as Merino, that produce soft wool, but their yarn tends to be costly.
Another complaint is that Noro yarn is not consistent, it can run thick in places and also thin in others yet not consistently like a regular thick and thin yarn. This is part of the rustic charm of the yarn for me. Mr Noro tries to keep the colours natural and the unevenness of the yarn compliments this ‘natural’ look. Nature is not perfect, yet when your knitted item is washed and blocked it really does look wonderful.
So a few hints on using Noro and any other long colour repeating yarn…
1. If possible, inspect the yarn in person. Check the end of each ball to see if the colour repeats itself fairly consistently. For my current project I ordered 5 balls of Noro Silk Garden on-line and the yarn received was two balls with the bright green on the inside, two with bright green on the outside and one with no bright green at all. I used the two balls with the green on the outside for the hat and the rest for a scarf. I had a little left over of the bright green when I bound off the hat so used that in the scarf where the missing green should have been on the ball without green… Wasn’t really enough bright green. Next time I won’t bother.
2. Purchase at separate vendors using the same guidelines. Ok I saw three balls at Joes Jolly Yarn Shop with the green on the inside so If I can find two more at Sharon’s Wool Boutique I’m good to go!!
3. Let it go. If at all possible let go the need for perfection. Every time I try to control the colour repeats, it looks worse than if I just let it go and maybe just alternate the balls a little. Having said that, I have read where people completely eliminate one of the colours and love the finished product!
If you love colour, do try some of the many Noro yarns*. If you prefer buttery soft, consistent yarns perhaps Noro will not suit you, but for me Noro is the most fun I’ve had in knitting in a long time!!
*Not affiliated in any way, just a huge fan!
So why not be colourfully creative today?