Noro is one of the most popular and well-known brands of yarn in the country. It is known for its quality, its luxurious fiber content, and, most notably, its colors. These tones are rich and deep, and the brand is known especially their intense color combinations – sometimes mixing 10 or more shades into one skein.
Knitting Noro: The Magic of Knitting with Hand-Dyed Yarns by Jane Ellison offers ways to knit with these wonderful yarns. The book opens with an all too short introduction to Noro yarns. Two pages are offered, detailing the precise process designer Eisaku Noro goes through with his hand-dyed and spun yarns. Photos of yarns in various stages of preparation accompany this. Close-up photos and descriptions of the yarns used in this book follow.
The rest of the book is a collection of 30 patterns designed to show off the self-striping yarn. Unfortunately, these are flat-out boring. The six chapters of patterns are divided by type: tank tops, chunky cardigans, pullovers, classic jackets, fitted cardigans, and wraps. Each section includes a “basic” pattern for that silhouette (basic pullover, basic fitted cardigan, basic jacket, etc). Each section also includes a “chevron” and “ribbed” pattern.
There are a few different patterns in the book. The “Lace Cover-Up” has short sleeves, a boat neck, and a single button closure at the neck. The simply named “Shawl” is a standard basketweave pattern. The “Long Coat” is just what it says, but the only closure is three buttons at the high neck. Kind of Matrix-y, but soft, fuzzy, and in pastels. The “Cowl Cover-Up” has ¾ length sleeves, hits at the waist, and offers oversized, draping lapels. “Tunic/Dress” is an oversized sweater with huge, draping turtleneck and mid-thigh length.
The patterns are all very, very simple – virtually any project inside would be a good beginner’s garment. However, Noro yarns are not really a “beginner” yarn – they are often of an uneven or slubby texture, and are quite pricey for a beginner. Most of these sweaters would require nearly $100 worth or yarn. I think any experienced knitter would be bored with these patterns, and be buying the book for the information about the yarn itself. Sadly, this portion of the book is woefully threadbare.