Most knitters are familiar with Noro yarns by name and by look, even if they've never knit with them before. These yarns are known for their vibrant colors, individual dyeing techniques and doing as much of the production process by hand as possible.
Fans of Noro love to use these yarns for a variety of projects, and Knitting Noro: The Magic of Knitting with Hand-Dyed Yarns by Jane Ellison (a specialist at working with the yarn) offers Noro lovers new and old a variety of simple clothing designs to try with some of the company's products.
All About Noro
The beginning of the book reads a bit like an advertisement for Noro yarns, which I guess the whole book really is, if you think about it.
"Compare a hank of hand-dyed Noro yarn with a ball of man-made acrylic yarn and the differences between the two are immediately apparent," Ellison writes in one passage. "The acrylic yarn looks flat and dull, a monotone block of uneven color; the hand-dyed Noro yarn, on the other hand, positively shimmers and sparkles with life."
Of course you expect a writer to love her subject, but reading the introductory materials of this book feels like reading a press release.
Still, there are some lovely pictures in this section, and a nice several pages explaining the yarns that are used in the patterns and how to substitute among them.
Ellison says she loves to write simple patterns for wardrobe basics with variations that make them a little more interesting. Because of that, she says all 31 patterns in the book are for beginners. I'd agree, because although the vast majority of the projects are for garments, there's very little shaping going on and they're all knit in pieces, so they wouldn't be too difficult for a knitter with a couple of projects under her belt.
Each section of patterns starts with a basic pattern, and those that follow offer variations. For example the tank top section begins with a Stockinette tank with rolled hems and a scoop neck. Patterns that follow use the same basic shape but throw in a V-neck, a chevron pattern and a longer length, a ribbed pattern and a turtleneck.
Similar variations are found in the other pattern collections in the book, which include chunky cardigans, pullovers, classic jackets, "fitted" cardigans (there's no real shaping but they're knit with thinner yarn and closer to actual body measurements) and wraps, which includes a couple of tops knit from rectangles.
The yarn is really the star of this show, making really basic patterns look a lot more interesting. Because the patterns are so simple they're pretty quick to knit, and the color changes keep them interesting as you go.
My favorites include pretty much all of the ribbed versions of the garments, in particular the long ribbed cardigan worked in Noro Silk Garden.
This book is a great choice for newer knitters who want to try knitting sweaters but don't want their first efforts to look completely basic, or for knitters who just really love Noro and want to see how lovely these basic designs look in a gorgeous yarn.
More experienced knitters might want to use the patterns as a jumping off point for their own designs or even to convert the patterns into projects knit in the round. Either way, knitters who love color without a lot of effort are sure to enjoy these projects and this book.
Publication date: November 2008.
[link urk="http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780307405746"]Publisher's website