Archive for April, 2010

Earth Day *Giveaway*

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

One lucky reader will win a gift bag filled with eco-friendly yarns, courtesy of Diamond YarnCan you guess how many balls of yarn are inside this Linen String Bag?  To enter the contest- simply leave a comment below with your name, email address, and your guess.  The first reader to submit the correct answer will be our winner!  Contest is open until April 26th at 12pm.  The winner will be announced on April 27th.  Best of luck!

Linen String Bag

Thursday April 22nd is Earth Day. What was initially launched in 1970 as an environmental awareness event has brought about forty years of conscious effort and gradual change towards improving the health of our planet.  We  have reduced our garbage collection to a fraction of what it once was, introduced curbside pick up for compost bins, and almost eradicated plastic grocery bags.  By practising the three R’s- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, each single step adds up to create a larger impact on repairing our fragile eco-system.

‘Knitting Green’ starts with a few simple choices.  Selecting yarns that are free from pesticides and chemical processing reduces our carbon footprint, and allows us the benefit of a better knitting experience all around.  Organic yarns are softer on the skin, with less irritants from harsh substances, and help to diminish allergy flare ups.  Earth Collection, Debbie Bliss, Mirasol, Sirdar, Sublime, and Rico Design are just a few on the growing list of manufacturing companies offering naturally grown yarns, earth-friendly packaging and solutions to a greener planet.

Make your own Earth Day bag in Katia Linen, a mixture of natural cotton and linen, the strongest of all plant fibres.  This re-usable string bag is perfect for a Saturday morning trip to the market, carting towels and toys to the beach, carrying laundry on wash day at camp, and picking up more knitting yarn at your LYS.  The bottom of the bag becomes its own attached pouch.

Linen Bag

Linen Bag Inside Pouch


3 balls Katia Linen

3.50 mm crochet hook

Pouch:  Ch4.  Slip st into 1st ch to form ring, place marker.

Rnd 1- 8 sc into ring

Rnd 2- Ch2, 1 dc in 1st st, *2 dc in next st*, rep *to*, slip st to top of ch2 = 16 dc

Rnd 3- Ch2, *2 dc in next dc, 1 dc in next dc*, rep *to*, slip st to top of ch2 = 24 dc

Rnd 4- as Rnd 2 = 48 dc

Rnd 5- as Rnd 3 = 72 dc

Rnd 6- Ch2, 1 dc in each st, slip st to top of ch2

Rnd 7- Ch2, *1 dc in next 2 sts, 2 dc in next st*, rep *to*, slip st to top of ch2 = 92 dc.  Fasten off.  Make a 2nd piece to match, do not fasten off.

Joining Rnd- Place 2nd piece on top of 1st piece with wrong sides together

Rnd 8- Ch1, (work through both layers), 1 sc in next 72 sts, cont to work 1 sc in next 24 sts of bottom piece only, slip st to ch1 to join.

String Bag: 

Rnd 9- *Ch6, skip 2 sts, sc in next st*, rep *to*, do not join

Rnd 10 ~ 30- *Ch8, sc in centre of next loop*, rep *to*

Rnd 31- *Ch4, sc in next loop*, rep *to*

Rnd 32- *4 sc in each loop, 1 sc in sc*, rep *to*, slip st to 1st sc to join

Rnd 33- Ch1, 1 sc in each st, slip st to 1st sc to join

Straps:  Ch1, 1sc in each of next 20 sts,  ch98, skip 39 sts, 1 sc in each of next 40 sts, ch98, skip 39 sts, 1 sc in each of next 40 sts, slip st to 1st sc to join

Next Rnd- Ch1, 1 sc in each st to end, slip st to join

Flowers:  (make 4)

Ch3, slip st into 1st ch to join, work 6 sc into ring, slip st into 1st sc to join, (2 dc, slip st) into same st, *(slip st, 2 dc, slip st) in next st*, rep *to* = 6 petals.  Fasten off.  Sew 1 flower to each Strap where bag meets.

Design by:  Michele Meadows

The History Of Noro

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

‘The World Of Nature’ is the simple and intriguing caption on every brightly coloured ball of Noro yarn.  For thirty-five years, these four little words remain the constant heartfelt message from the founder of  Japan’s most innovative yarn company-  Eisaku Noro.  He is a true pioneer with an impressive artistic vision and the sincerest admiration for nature.      

Eisaku Noro

Eisaku grew up in the province of Mie, with nature right at the doorstep.  The Yoshino-Kumano National Park became his playground, an unspoiled primitive forest where he spent many hours fishing in the crystal clear waters of the Miya River, hiking in nearby mountains, and occasionally glimpsing Mount Fiji off in the distance.  His deep respect for nature developed at an early age, while later in school, he discovered an interest in art.  It is both of these great passions that he holds dear and credits as the basis for his life’s work, “I think everything I saw in my childhood was blended in my mind, and spins out whenever I need inspiration for my work.”  In his mid-teens, Eisaku began to study and learn the process of spinning and dyeing yarns. 

It wasn’t until well into his 30’s that he made the leap and started his own company- Noro, implementing all the techniques he had learned, as well as pioneering earth-friendly methods into the manufacturing process.  “For more than thirty years, we have been only using natural fibres, seeking colour with the vitality of nature,” states Mr. Noro in his mission statement.  Fibres are gathered from around the world- silk, kid mohair, pima cotton, and sheep wool which is primarily grown on a large ranch in Adelaide, Australia.  No agricultural chemicals are used and the wool fibres must pass strict standards to become certified organic before shipping to Japan.  All fibres are hand cleaned of debris without the use of chemicals or machinery, in order to keep the natural properties intact. 

Colour Selection Table

Raw fibres go through an individual colouring process within large vats where the temperature is set moderately cool to prevent damage.  After a spin dry cycle in a second vat, the newly dyed fibres are arranged by hand, carded and slowly spun into ‘slivers’.  These irregular combinations of short and long fibres are blended not twisted to retain a thick and thin handspun quality.  An array of slivers are gently spun together according to the Noro palette, to produce the amazing colourways we have all come to know and love.  

winding the slivers

steam setting the colours

spinning machine

Noro has set industry standards many years ago, leading the way with its green approach to preserving the environment.  Metal dyes are not part of the colouring process, and more than fifty percent of the cardboard used for yarn coning, as well as packing materials is from recycled sources.  By modifying the spinning machine used in production to run at a slower speed, hydro usage is reduced by more than twenty percent.

AYA- Book #27

FURIN Book #27

Eisaku Noro is well into his seventies now, involved with all the day to day operations at the company headquarters.  His lifelong dream to bring nature together with the world of yarn has been accomplished, “although it is difficult to reproduce our thoughts into colour, we are happy with the results.”

Within every ball of Noro yarn is a rainbow of possibilities. 

(Images courtesy of