Noro. There are no halfway emotions about it. You either love it with a white-hot passion, or you hate it so much that you would rather not knit than to use it. Why the disparity? I'm not sure, really. Its detractors cite things like variations in texture, tiny bits of vegetable matter in the fiber, and sections of color that don't seem to belong. I understand. Certainly, Noro is not Italian merino. But then, it doesn't pretend to be. Noro yarn is something else entirely. Noro embodies an aesthetic that is very different from traditional Western views of beauty. This aesthetic is Wabi-Sabi, which embraces a beauty that is far from the smooth, new, and refined so valued in western culture. Noro yarns are purposefully rustic.
These yarns have been minimally processed, so they retain the look and feel of their source material, which is Mr. Eisaku Noro's goal for his fibers.
As for the colors that don't seem to belong, that too is part of the aesthetic - part of the beauty. It's the kind of beauty and color play that you find in nature. Picture an oriental lily with gaudy pink petals and ruby red spots, and a lime green throat. But what sets it all off? Those fuzzy anthers of orange brown. Cut them out, and you lose a bit of the excitement that blossom has to offer. Think of a huge grey stone with, deep vein of emerald or sapphire crystal lodged deep inside. There is tremendous energy in that stone - The energy is in the stone's potential beauty, and the thrill of getting to that gorgeous green or blue you know is in there. For the ancient Buddhist philosopher, Kenko, anticipation is the better part of the beauty of a thing. Truth is, the colors you might love in a skein of Silk Garden - incredible blue, green and purple - would be rather less interesting without a bit of drab to set them off. The drab bits make the blues bluer, the greens greener - everything is more intense against those bits. The anticipation and excitement of knitting with Noro is addictive. You want to knit and knit and knit just to see how the colors will play out. Noro is a thrill with every stitch.
Kenko also wrote, "The most precious thing in life is its uncertainty." Sometimes it's hard to see that, but truly, how dull it would be if we knew everything that was to come. Try it and see.
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