I visited the first eye doctor on Monday, March 27th and the third doctor just a few days ago. There is some consensus amongst the three . . . but it’s a watching and waiting game right now. You see, I found a white bump on my eye, right at the edge of the iris. I really can’t see well without my glasses anymore, so it seems a bit miraculous to me that I even
spotted it . . . It’s the size of a short grain piece of rice. And I have no idea how long it’s been there . . . because it reflects light in a way that makes it almost impossible to see when I’m looking, for example, in my magnifying mirror with the light on.
Turns out I have three problems, all of them caused by UV damage that is no doubt the result of all those years before I needed glasses of any kind and I never wore sunglasses. It just never became a habit. I always forgot them, lost them, broke them.
Two of my three problems are progressive if the eyes remain inflamed (as they are right now) and the other is abnormal cells we are now watching to see if they change in any way. Changes may mean they already are, or will turn into, cancer.
As some of you may know firsthand, the word cancer, even if there ends up being nothing substantially wrong (my hope, of course), has a way of clarifying things and distilling one’s thoughts, of focusing the mind. It certainly has done so for me the last few weeks. Because even if this white, piece-of-rice-sized blob on MY EYE!, even if it’s nothing . . . well, it’s not
nothing . . . but even if it’s a pre-cancerous lesion, or just a Pterygium (the progressive problem I mentioned), and not full-on cancer, I have been thinking about how I want to spend my time, thinking in a way that is simply not possible to do, at least for me, even when doing a thought experiment called, Cancer For a Day (yes, the actual title of an actual exercise for a very excellent class I took on Time and Life Management).
I’ve made some decisions. I’m going to lay Noni down for good. Some of you have been with me since the beginning of Noni in 2005. Some of you know me from before that, from the Woolworks Yarn Shop days where I worked during my grad school days as I was working on my PhD. It was there that I made my first felted purse . . . and then I made purses on commission for a while. Maybe you saw Noni go viral in 2005 with the Carpet Bag trio. Remember that? And remember how most, if not all of the felted bags in the knitting world before that moment were shapeless totes you might not want to carry into the office, much less a board room? The Carpet Bags, with those big, sexy red Camellias, changed that and took me from having my paper patterns in 3 shops to over 3 thousand shops in a few weeks. My son was just born and on my lap most of the time. My dad and his wife came down from Maine to help us right after the birth and my dad went to every post office within a 30 mile radius to find boxes. Things were pretty crazy!
I remember standing in a line at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in 2007 when Noni was just over a year old. I had my one-of-a-kind Noni purse, so many different colors of red, big red flowers . . . it was actually the first Nonibag, but one I never made into a pattern because it was so idiosyncratic – I wouldn’t have been able to reproduce it. Two women approached me, tentative, said, “Is that a Nonibag?”
“Yes,” I said slowly, a little confused, “I’m Noni.”
And they screamed! O my goodness it was awesome and made me so happy, but I was embarrassed, too. I think they were a little as well, because they fled and we never even got to chat, which would have been so nice . . .
Those were the days when I was sending out hundreds of paper patterns a day to shops all over the country and the world–Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, England, Canada . . . It was all before pdf patterns and before social media became a thing . . . It was largely, too, before the indie designer was a thing. I sometimes wonder how much I had to do with aspiring designers saying to heck with the big yarn companies. I’m just going to self-publish, like I did.
I taught workshops all over, back when we did that in person . . . I even went to Hawaii to teach people about how to finish purses. I remember my son was really little in the beginning, and, when I taught, my husband and son would travel with me. They would even come with me to the shop and my husband would lead Soma around the store, saying, “Look at this . . .” and “Feel that . . .” and soon Soma would say, “Let’s go!” And off they would go adventuring. This is the way we hacked separation anxiety. Now he’s making up college lists and driving and taller than both his parents.
Remember The Nomad Bag, and The Bedouin, and The Cinch, slouchy purses that took slouchy in a whole new, awesome direction? I still remember the face of the young woman in Starbucks when I walked in with The Tulip Tote over my shoulder. She went slack jawed in absolute best way, touched the tulips, whispered, “Where did you get this?”
Remember how the Lipstick and Change was a purse revelation?
There were A LOT of purse revelations . . .
And remember Noni Flowers, my book of botanically correct knitted flowers? It was published here in the US in 2012, and then it was published in the UK under the name Beautiful Botanical Knits, and it was even published in South Korea! So cool. I look at that book now and I think, I made this?
And remember how I shuttered my studio and stopped designing for a while, starting in the Spring of 2015, because I got the opportunity to teach English Literature and Rhetoric and Composition to high school students at a fancy private school. My PhD is in English Literature and I taught Rhetoric and Literature for years at the University level . . . I thought that high school post might turn into a permanent position, but I ended up really glad it didn’t. I do still love to lead a discussion about a great book or a Shakespeare play and I do from time to time lead the book discussion for my mom’s book group . . . but I learned in 2015 that teaching all four grades of high school is not the same as the teaching first year college and it wasn’t for me. I started designing for Noni again sometime in 2017 and teaching as an adjunct at my local community college at the same time . . . But that all
changed with the pandemic and its demands on virtual teaching.
I’ve been designing quietly ever since and teaching more Noni classes since the pandemic showed us all we could teach people all over the world from our living rooms via Zoom.
But my life has also taken me in a new direction and that new direction is making demands on my heart. Maybe you don’t know that I’ve always wanted to write more books, but not about knitting. And I’ve been researching nutrition in an intensive way that has changed the way I see the world, the way I see chronic illness. I’ve healed my own thyroid, my arthritic shoulder. I’ve been learning Tai Chi. I have a side hustle as a personal vegan cook.
Something has to shift, because I need to focus more of my attention on my health. It might take my full attention.
So, if you want to take a class with me, now is the time.
If there are purses you love but you have not yet bought the patterns, yarn, and hardware to make them, now is the time.
If you have purses you have knit but never felted, never finished, but you want to . . . now is the time. . .
Take a Class With Me
Take the Pick A Noni, Any Noni Finishing Bootcamp Class and let me help you make
If you have always wanted to design your own purses, now is the time.
Registration is still open for the Design Your Own Purse/Bag/Tote Class. In this multi-meeting class, I divulge ALL my design tricks and secrets. I’ll also be designing some new purses as a part of that class, mostly backpacks, because my body is demanding that of me – it no longer tolerates me carrying a heavy purse on one side.
Class participants will receive all of my rough backpack and any other patterns I write during the class duration — what that means is that you will get my informal, basic pattern for each purse. They will be bare bones patterns – you will see the way I write them for myself. But they will be correct AND I will support them. This means that if you don’t start your Noni backpack until next year and have a question, send me a text or give me a call and I will answer your question(s) and help you in any way I can. I always have been and will remain committed to your success.
Shepherd’s Wool If the Shepherd’s Wool color you want is sold out, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will accept special orders for Shepherd’s Wool at 10% off with prepayment. The discount on in-stock yarn will stop at $13.18 per skein – a tasty discount off of the regular $15.50 price.
I will be offering special discounts and other promotions weekly, sometimes daily** until everything is gone. I’ll start with the following discount schedule.
April 27: 15% off sitewide with code LAST15
May 3: 25% off almost sitewide with code LAST25
Then things will get more fluid and creative.
On June 15, or when everything is gone, whichever comes first, I will close the Noni store, take the Noni website down. You will still be able to purchase Noni patterns through Ravelry.
I hope this deadline doesn’t end your Noni Bags and Non Flowers journey, and it certainly won’t end my creativity. I am excited to see how my creativity may be unbound by this process. I’ve already got some ideas I can’t wait to start working on.
Over the course of the rest of this month and into the first part of June, I will share more about my own plans moving forward. Perhaps you will want to come with me as I explore new things and teach very different kinds of classes. A little later, I’ll send around an email sign up that will allow you to choose to continue to get emails from me as I move toward my second act . . . after a short intermission to take care of my eyes and sort out the details of the second half of my life.
**Noni classes, Shepherd’s Wool, and JUL leather handles are exceptions to the Noni Fire Sale discounting schedule.
Dearest Nora, your artistry has nourished me – a writer – so much & I’m sending love to you & your beloveds at this scary time. Life changes & it’s so hard but your heart tells you what’s right. Just bought some of your exquisite patterns. Keep us in the loop, honey. #creative sisterhood 🙏🏼🙏🏽💕💕💕💕Cathy
Thank you so much, Cathy. I am so glad I have been part of your creative life. And thank you for loving and healing thoughts. I am grateful for them! Yes, I will keep you and everyone in the loop. New content coming soon. And a whole new direction. I’ll let you know about that, too. Best wishes, always. Nora
Dear Noni- I too have been inspired – I have your knitted flower book and have knit many from it. Your coin purse sits in my bag and I love it every time I pull it out to see if I have any money in it! Thank you for all of your creativity and willingness to share. I will meditate on a good outcome- and go with your heart- like you say ‘now- is the time’- all the best – from Australia – kind regards Lani
Thank you for your lovely comments. I am so happy to hear that my work has been an inspiration to you. And that the coin purse is a loved companion. I am so glad. Thank you for taking the time to write. Best wishes, Nora
Sending prayers for a quick and successful solution to your health challenges. Trying to navigate through all your generous offers – unable to find if the pattern for #104 Majolica Vases Full of Flowers Felted Bags is available?
Hi Margie, I’m sorry it has taken me so long to reply to your comment.
You know, I can’t find that pattern! I am not sure what happened to it. I’ve been through so many computers . . . I thought I had all the patterns in one folder, but it seems I do not! I would, if I were you, do a google search and see if you can find anyone who is selling the paper pattern.
Thank you for your very kind thoughts and prayers. I am grateful.
Best wishes, Nora
Nora – meantime I managed to buy a copy of your book Noni Flowers and I am so excited to to try to create some of the flowers – I imagine I could incorporate some of them in a felted bag in an attempt to recreate that pattern. If you DO find it – do let me know – I would be very happy to buy a copy. I so hope you get on to a good path of healing. It feels so serendipitous – that besides you – another unique woman I “follow” online has just recently shared the fact of her own challenge of facing cancer in her eye – just thinking maybe there could be support in connecting with each other…her name is Jennifer Margulis and she is a science journalist. Wishing you only well – Margie
Dearest Nora, I have absolutely loved your creativity, your exquisite style, your one-of-a-kind bags and flowers, your sweet spirit and getting to know you a little more over the years. Sheep and Wool Festivals, the shop in Savage Mill, chatting or emailing – you have always been so willing to help! I am thinking about you, respecting your decision to take time to enjoy each day and take care of you and pursue some new things-can’t wait to hear about all of it! I hope we can still set some time aside for a coffee or tea together! I think of you often! You will be in my thoughts and prayers! Love you, Bethany
Hi Nora. I am sorry that you have to go through this. I have enjoyed your designs for years. I’ll miss your well-curated catalog of supplies. I’ll miss you and hope you mean it when you say you will still write and design. I feel bad that I wasn’t able to take your classes. Finally, she’s teaching a class! If you ever do something pre-recorded on something like Teachable or similar, I will enroll in a minute! (I am asynchronous like that:)) Please don’t despair. It must be terrifying right now, but things are always better once you are working on them. I was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer this past November. It was a pretty bleak diagnosis — palliative care only. But I responded better than expected to treatment and after surgery next week, I am on maintenance and expect to live out my life as originally planned. I had a few scary moments, but I’m doing well now! Life has changed for sure, but I have found that every experience — be it good or bad has something to teach me. From everything I have seen you do in the past, you will use this experience to enrich the world and create something beautiful. So, good luck to you! I will be thinking good thoughts and will always be appreciating the beauty that you have brought into my life. — Dawn
I am so happy to hear that you are doing well after what must have been a very tough diagnosis and treatment regimen!
Thank you for your lovely comments and wishes for me. I feel good and my eye feels good. I wear hats religiously when out and about these days. They are becoming a new part of my Noni uniform. I’m so glad that you have enjoyed my work and thank you so much for your comments about moving forward and continuing to create. I certainly plan to. I am very grateful you took the time to write. It means a lot to me. Best wishes, Nora