The History Of Noro

‘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

19 Responses to “The History Of Noro”

  1. evie b says:

    I really enjoy the stories behind the designers and yarn companies. Noro is a joy to knit with, the bright colours cheer up any project.

  2. s.caroll says:

    what an insightful man and miles ahead of his time.
    are there any new Noro lines available for this spring with a cotton base?

  3. michele says:

    The Noro Spring Collection has four new exciting qualities-
    Furin: chunky weight in wool/silk/cotton
    Sekku: laceweight in wool/silk/cotton
    Aya: worsted weight in wool/silk/cotton
    Shirakaba: worsted weight in wool/silk/cotton

    Have a look at the full spectrum of colours by clicking on COLLECTIONS, then NORO.

  4. f. t. says:

    thanks for the behind the scenes look at noro, i really had no idea there was a man named NORO. beautiful yarns too.

  5. lynn g. says:

    one of my very first knitting projects was in silk garden by noro, a simple vest in a rib pattern. i still wear it every fall and will enjoy it even more knowing the story behind this yarn.

  6. erin says:

    a cheerful yarn company, and very good environmental practises.

  7. bev says:

    a fascinating man, after reading this blog article and also the new book about Noro by Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton, i have learned so much about his background and the company he started. colour really radiates all around him.

  8. N.J. says:

    quite an insightful piece to read. always enjoy knitting with Noro yarns, there is no other yarn that comes close to it in terms of unique colouring.

  9. Jocelyn says:

    I am pleased to see the cotton mixtures in the Noro line, we can now wear our sweaters in all seasons. a great improvement!

  10. kniitygurl68 says:

    Hats off to Noro! This company sets the bar in green manufacturing standards. It doesn’t hurt either, that their yarns are drop dead gorgeous!

  11. Claud Braught says:

    Thank you for the great post – I had fun reading it! I always enjoy this blog.

  12. H D says:

    Really great post/article really informative.

  13. knitting yarn blog says:

    noro yarn is beautiful.

  14. J S says:

    I am glad I found your blog, I will return.

  15. Derek C. says:

    Great site! Thanks for sharing

  16. ALLISON H. says:

    the colours of noro are magical. my heart beats quickly when i walk into a yarn shop and see the selection on the shelf. its good to see a finer range too for shawls and laceweight cardigans.

  17. Santiago Popovich says:

    Informative blog with good useful information.

  18. P. H. says:

    Good blog! I really love how it easy it is on my eyes and the info is well written. I am wondering how I could be notified whenever a new post has been made.

  19. Berni Crawford says:

    Thanks for this blog. Noro is my favorite brand of yarn and I have great admiration for Eisaku Noro. I believe the mountain he grew up seeing was Mt Fuji(not FIJI). I hope he’ll have a change of heart and bring back Kujaku yarn, my favorite.

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