Posted by: jinniver | October 2, 2008

Yarn Review: Noro Kureyon

Yarn: Kureyon by Noro
Colorway: 184 (I called it Oil Slick)
Purchased from: Little Knits in Seattle, Washington
Content: 100% wool (not superwash)
Per skein: approx. 50 grams / 100 meters
Gauge: 18 sts = 4″
Recommended needle size: US8 – US10

I only wanted this yarn for the color. Seriously.

I’d just received notification of a sale at Little Knits, and when I paged through the sale yarns, the 184 colorway of the Noro Kureyon stopped me mid-scroll.  I loved it so much I bought a 10 ball bag…without looking at the fiber content or the gauge, or with any idea of what I was going to do with the yarn when I got it.

yarn delivery (8)

The Yarn

Noro’s greatest strength is the colors.  They are deep and brilliant, with long, gradual changes in the colorway.  However, that also leads to what I felt was the biggest weakness: obvious color run breaks.  Most of the skeins I used had a knot partway through, and it almost always resulted in a jarring color change.  The color run ran pink-red-magenta-purple/blue-brown-olive-green-green/blue-blue-lavender/pink.  So if you’re knitting something long and thin, such as a scarf, and the color run suddenly jumps from magenta to green, the new yarn will be glaringly obvious.  I understand that knots happen, but I would have liked if more of an effort had been made to minimize the jumps in color runs, say from magenta to brown.  This is something to keep in mind if the knitter wants to maintain the integrity of the color run; rewinding the skeins to figure out where the breaks occur and shifting between skeins as needed is recommended.

Noro Kureyon is not a soft yarn.  It was a lot crunchier and rougher than what I’d been working with recently, making it feel too rough in relative terms.  I mentally slated it in the outerwear/felting category, and so was surprised when I found several patterns using the advanced search for items meant to be worn next to the skin.  I decided to tackle three different patterns for my Ravelympics projects: a scarf, a pair of wristers (fingerless gloves), and a felted hat.  When I first started knitting, the yarn left my fingers a bit sore due to the stiffness and roughness.  Part of that was the fact that I was knitting for several hours at a time, and part of it was just needing to get used to the yarn.  After a few days, I was accustomed and the yarn no longer bothered me as I knit.  It also softened up noticeably as I knit.  There was a fair amount of vegetable matter still in the yarn, due to the reduced processing the yarn goes through, but it was easily removed as I knit.  There were also areas of damaged yarn, where it had been stretched out of shape and had to be cut out, but those areas were not common and easily removed.

The Projects

My first project was my scarf.  I loved how the shape (long and thin) accentuated the long color run (although it made the color breaks problematic), and how, in turn, the color changes accentuated the pattern (feather and fan).  I haven’t been able to give it a full test for comfort yet–summertime in south Texas is no time to wrap a wool scarf around your neck!–but I did spend time with it wrapped around my neck for pictures with no problems.  I don’t have any allergies, but my skin is sensitive (a holdover from a bout of childhood eczema, unfortunately).  I had no issues knitting the yarn on US8 needles; the yarn knit up very nicely with no splitting.  I didn’t have to worry about obtaining gauge for a scarf, so I was simply able to appreciate how that needle size gave the stitches room to open up in the lace pattern.  Blocking was a necessity for this pattern, and the yarn blocked quite well, especially for my first foray into blocking.

Ravelympics scarf (3)

Scarf blocking

Ravelympics scarf (4) Ravelympics scarf (6)

Next, I tackled the first project I had entered in the Ravelympics, the one I really wanted to do but had chickened out on at first:  my felted hat.  I’d been unable to find a pattern for a felted roll brim hat, but I did find one for a cloche that I could modify by knitting the brim longer.  The cloche pattern called for a yarn that was not 100% wool, since it wasn’t intended to be fully felted, so I was going to be living somewhat dangerously with my first felted project.

The hat pattern required me to knit with 2 strands held together, which I found actually minimized any abrupt color changes due to knots in the skein.  The knitting was a little tougher here; I had to be very careful not to split one of the 2 strands as I knit, which was a bit of a challenge due to the loose twist and the fact that I’m a tighter knitter.

Ravelympics hat (2) Ravelympics hat (4)
Pre-felted hat

Other than the fact that it was too big, I liked the look of my hat pre-felted…so I was a little worried about the felting process.  I actually considered leaving the hat as is, but it really was too large–and I was entered in the Felted Freestyle, so felted the hat would be.  I started by trying to felt by hand in order to control the process and minimize the felting (as called for in the pattern), but I soon realized that I didn’t have the patience.  So I threw the hat into a lingerie bag and tossed it in the washing machine with a pair of jeans on hot wash/cold rinse and full agitation.

I checked the hat frequently at 5 minute intervals, but apparently this yarn doesn’t felt as quickly as some of the felting horror stories I’d read had led me to believe.  It eventually took 3 full wash cycles to get the look I wanted.  Because I had seen the hat through every stage, I couldn’t see much of a difference in the hat until I looked at the pictures side by side.

Ravelympics hat (5) Ravelympics hat (6)
Felted hat

As you can see, the colors and color changes are greatly softened.  The stitch definition is still evident despite 3 felting attempts, but I had reached the size I wanted and I liked the look that I had obtained…so I decided it was time to leave well enough alone.  The hat shaped nicely over a mixing bowl, but it took about 2 1/2 days to dry (I even cheated a bit by throwing it in the dryer to speed the process up some)–the local humidity probably affected that despite our A/C.

I was a day late finishing my wristers for the purpose of earning a medal, but it was my first glove project.  This project resulted in the most tightly knit fabric; the scarf had been knit on size US8 needles, the hat on US10, but the wristers were knit on US4.  Again, splitting was a bit of a problem at times since the needle had a sharper point.

This project really emphasized the length of the color run in the Noro–if it weren’t for the thumbs, would have thought that the 2 wristers had each been knit from a different colorway:

Ravelympics wristers (4) Ravelympics wristers (5)
Left hand in orange/magenta/brown colorway; Right hand in aqua/blue/pink colorway

I had enough balls (remember that 10 ball bag?) that I could have made the gloves match, if I wanted, but I loved how this showed the long color run.  Instead, I chose to pull one color out of each glove to knit the thumb on the other to pull the gloves together.

The only thing I didn’t like about these wristers was that the smaller stitch emphasized the only jarring part of the color run:  the shift from blue to pink.  For some reason, the pink yarn tended to be be thicker right where it shifted to lavender/pink, so those stitches really stood out from the rest:

Ravelympics wristers (6)

I spent some time wearing my wristers after I knit them.  this was the project where the comfort of the yarn was the most important.  To my surprise, I had no issues with skin irritation.  I’m not likely to want to wear them all day, but they’ll be plenty comfortable for the times I’ll need protection from the cold…once we move some place where it gets cold!

6 balls down, 4 to go…I have no idea what I’m going to knit with what’s left, but whatever it turns out to be, I know I’ll enjoy knitting it with the Noro Kureyon.


Responses

  1. This yarn is much softer after it’s been soaked and blocked. I make “Maine Morning Mitts” [free pattern] out of my noro, and have the same issue of two mitts not resembling each other – in the one case, I got another ball of yarn, and made two matched sets, since it was for a gift.

    in short – do the soaking blocking thing for Noro Mitts – it really helps


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