27 December 2008

Noro! Noro!

I've had my eye on Noro yarns for quite some time. They have a "look" about them that is, for the most part, unique. Yes, there are other manufacturers that make varigated yarns, and yes, some of those manufacturers make self-striping yarn, and yes, some of those manufacturers make long-repeat self-striping yarn, but no one does smooth color gradation quite like Noro.

For those of you who don't know, Noro is a Japan-based company that makes minimally-processed, hand-dyed yarns. The yarn that made them famous in the hand-knitting (and crocheting!) world is Kureyon, a 100% wool yarn. This is a "love it or hate it" yarn. Haters cite the VM ("vegetable matter") that comes from the lack of processing, the scratchiness, the knottiness, the price, and the random color splices. Lovers cite just one thing: the color.

It took me months to finally break down and try it. I bought several skeins from yarn swappin' Ravelers on the cheap. Kureyon tends to run about $8/skein, and I picked up my first batch at $6/skein, including shipping. I got 10 skeins of colorway 150, which is a grey/blue/white/lavender/green colorway. Not my favorite colors (too cool - I'm an autumn!), but a good way to start with the yarn.

I found out a few things. The VM wasn't any worse than handspun, hand-processed yarns, so that didn't bother me (in fact, I'd rather have more VM/less processing than the other way around - check out Blackberry Ridge Wool Mill for more information about wool processing). I got through all 10 skeins with nary a knot or color-splicing issue. I didn't find the yarn any more scratchy than an average wool, and the scratchiness went away with a brief soak in Eucalan Wool Wash. And, despite this being the worst colorway for me, I still loved the colors. So, I got more. A few previews from my Ravelry Yarn Stash:

As you can tell, I'm sold on Noro. Love it. I find it easy to spit-splce the ends if I want continuous color (or just to avoid weaving ends, which is a major motivator). The colors are amazing. Non-fiber artists are amazed at the color and think I have some sort of magical skill with yarn when they see the finished product. It comes in amazing colorways. Even the strange colorways are still amazing because they manage to blend them all together in a seamless way.

I've worked several projects now in Kureyon, but my favorite has to be hats. It makes amazing hats that get rave reviews. Best of all, since it's 100% wool, it's even for the outdoorsy-types who need a solid hat that can handle dirt and wetness while still remaining warm and feeling dry. I made a few helmets for my husband, and he loves them. Here's a few pictures for you to enjoy:

He said he'd pay about $45 for them, but in my pricing calculator, even at the highest margin, they come to $40 at the most. Amazing...

Anyway, my love for Noro continues to grow, especially since I just discovered Silk Garden. All the gorgeousness of Kureyon with the silkiness of, well, silk. I'm sure I'll be creating more with it in the very, very near future!

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