‘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 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.
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.
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.
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 www.noroyarns.com)