Sunday, January 27, 2008

Noro Kureyon Sock: yarn review (and an FO)

**Edited to add my Sock Recipe for this pair**

The Noro socks are complete.
Noro Kureyon Sock
There's just something about Noro. The intense color saturation, the transition between colors, the handspun quality. It's almost enough to negate the stiff feeling hand, bits of splinter and twig throughout, and (of course) the requisite knot, screwing up the color sequence. (On that last bit, I snipped out the knot, then wound off almost an entire color repeat to get back to where I should have been. Pain in the arse, I tell you.) It also should be noted that I probably would have been wise to knit from the outside of the ball rather than pulling from the center, as this yarn sticks to itself even as it's coming out, and tangles just for the sheer joy of it.
"Is this what you do with these cable needles?"
"I am Mommy's little shadow. She seems to be totally absorbed in these things. I think I'll take a taste"

The knitted fabric was a little thicker than the usual fingering sock weight because of the slubs throughout, and felt a bit stiff. Much of the stiffness disappeared in the first wash, and although these will never be considered "soft" or "cushy", I didn't find them scratchy on my feet (for comparison, I do find Brown Sheep Wildfoot to make me itch wildly).

"I will knit these for you"
"This is how she's doing it, right?"

On the yarn's label, it doesn't specify if the wool is superwash or not, and it does say hand wash and dry flat, but when I squished them around in my wash (not so carefully -- but not too rough), I didn't notice any felting in the least. The yarn is tightly spun and includes 30% nylon content, which, along with my tight gauge, should make this a moderately hard-wearing sock, single-ply notwithstanding. I did go down one needle size to turn the heel though, just to be safe.

"I love Noro, Mommy!"
"Perhaps I'll just take the finished one out for a little play."

Bottom line: would I knit with this yarn again? If my local yarn shop begins to carry it....and it has, say, shade 185, 188, 164 or 092 in stock...right. It'll be in my little market bag. There are other yarns out there that might be more pleasant to knit, but...well, let me ask you this -- has the troubles with Noro ever stopped the masses in the past? No. There will be some negative reactions, yes, I'm sure, but overall, there's just nothing like Noro.
Taking the sock to play
(She's actually been crawling around with one or the other sock since I completed them -- I guess it's never too early to start a Noro addiction.)

Yarn: Noro Kureyon Sock color #185
Needles: KnitPicks Classic Circular, size 1 (knit one at a time, cuff-down, magic-loop).
Gauge: 9 stitches per inch
Notes: These were knitted plain with a twisted 1x1 ribbed cuff. I started the second sock (color wise) right where I'd left off with the first one. Usually I am obsessively matchy-matchy, so this was pretty fun for me. I love the way they turned out.
Pattern: This is more of a recipe than anything -- get actual numbers for heel turn and such here (I did a round heel though like the one found here, not a Dutch one).
Cast on 64 stitches. Knit twisted 1x1 ribbed cuff for 1 inch (knit 1 through the back loop, purl one, repeat around). Switch to plain stockinette (knitting all stitches) for as many inches as you'd like (or, to be just like me, until it's 7 inches from cast on edge).
Begin slipped stitch heel-flap on 32 stitches and knit until it's a square (mine was 19 slipped stitches tall, or 38 rows).
Turn heel.
Pick up sts on edges of heel flap and knit in the round again until you reach base of big toe (for my US size 8-1/2 foot, I knit 7-3/4"). Begin toe decreases. Continue decreasing every other row until there are 24 stitches left. Graft closed with Kitchner stitch.

I finally discovered (a few pairs of socks ago), how to avoid a hole in the corner of the heel:
Noro Kureyon Sock: heel
When I get to the spot where the hole always presents itself, I pick up a stitch from three rows down, twisting each stitch as I ladder it up. Not sure if that makes sense. Anyway, this makes it really really nice and tight, and I don't have a hole problem anymore. Not sure how I didn't think of this before.
Noro Kureyon Sock: toes
I now have 8 pairs of handknit socks for myself. Eventually I'd love to have an entire month's worth. I wonder how many more I'll manage to knit for myself this year?

P.S. Thank you again to Jillian for gifting me with this gorgeous yarn!

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