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I hope to be doing more of these on any yarn I can get my hands on. πŸ™‚ Lets start with one brand that definitely needs a factual review.

Yarn Review: Noro Kureyon

This yarn carries with it a civil war; those who love it, and those who hate it. That being said, I tread lightly, but only intend to give my own personal review of it. Take from it what you want.

Noro is known for its vibrant colors – aaaand thats about it. In fact it gets its name from the Japanese pronunciation for “crayon”. Kureyon is made with 100% wool, hand-dyed and spun in a single ply. One skein averagely retails for $8.95 with contains 110 yards, or 50 grams.

The Pros
1. beautiful runs of colors that stay bright and vibrant
2. 100% wool for a rustic feel

The Cons
1. known to have sharp bits of hay spun in with the wool
2. loosely spun single ply that splits easily
3. ply and thickness vary throughout the skein
4. feels rough next to the skin
5. known to have several knots within a skein, causing a disrupt in color runs

My first experience with Noro was a terrible one. I had been waiting for the perfect project to give me an reason to spend $9.00 for a skein of Noro. After finally finding it, I cast on the simple Noro Striped Scarf for my brother.

The color runs were the only thing that kept me going – wanting to see how the next pair of stripes matched was fun and exciting. The frequent (and surprising!) needle-sharp pieces of hay (or other VM) were very unpleasant on my fingers. I constantly was picking out bits and pieces from the roving.

The inconsistant thickness of the ply within the skein was not that much of an issue when knitting up the Noro Scarf, but I definitely would not reccomend using Noro on a project that requires correct gauge or precision fitting.

Heres a picture I took of the Kureyon skein I used recently. Both strands are from the same skein.

At first, I liked the rustic feel of the scarf after it was knitted up. The combination of the uneven ply and the raw wool made it feel old, worn, unique and quintessentially hand-knit. Then, I started to realize – this was going to be around someones neck. That’s much too rough for right next to the skin. It’s very harsh to the touch.

The roughness of the wool is another reason I would not reccomend using this yarn. It might feel great as a stall blanket for a horse, but not a scarf.

The yarn spilt on me, meaning it would rip apart in the middle of the stitch, 16 times. Thats 34 ends to weave in! Yes, you can use the spit felting method to graft the yarn back together (which is a technique I had not discover yet when knitting this scarf), but I wouldn’t want to spend $9 for only 100 yards only to have to constantly spit splice throughout my project. This constant splitting ending up completely ruining my project. Most of the tears were on the last few stitches of a row, so when I tried blocking the scarf the edges started to unravel. It ended up looking like a hobo scarf.

Verdict: Not worth it!

A quick glance at the 127 comments left on Kureyons Ravelry page will show the divide. But one word that’s reused quite a bit? “Overlooked”. Knitters overlook its flaws for its colors.

Before using Noro myself, all I had heard were raving compliments about the yarn – and part of me wishes I had heard about the downfalls of Kureyon as well. I wish someone would have spoken truthfully about the qualities of Kureyon instead of just “overlooking” it’s flaws. I might have still bought it, but I would have been more gentle with the yarn or chosen a better project.

When I’ve been vocal about my experience with Kureyon, I’ve gotten a few polite (and not so polite) PMs telling me that I must have gotten a “bad skein” and that I should give it another chance – which I might. But even if I had only gotten a “bad skein” (were all 4 skeins I used “bad”??) then maybe quality control should be more of a priority?

Many knitters and crocheters prefer Noro’s Silk Garden for a softer yarn/feel. I haven’t had the chance to try this yarn yet, but when I do, hopefully I’ll have a better experience than I did with Kureyon.

Let’s face it – Kureyon needs to work on the quality of the actual yarn if it wants to win over disheartened knitters or crocheters. I don’t think we should have to settle with flaws because we’re force-fed this belief that Noro is such an amazing yarn. The colors are pretty, yes. But how often is there a need for large color runs that are not even in the same color family? The creativity that the producers put into the colors of this yarn is the most effort put into this yarn, I’ll give them that. The spinning needs to be improved and the quality of the wool needs to be looked at closer. I don’t need merino – but less hay would be nice.

2018 update: It seems this yarn is actually a 2-ply yarn, not a single ply, but you wouldn’t know that from looking at it. And I have since worked with silk garden. And that first “hobo” scarf was stolen from me, before I had a chance to try and re-attempt it lol.

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Old School

Contrary to popular sterotypes, I am not “old”.

Just two days ago, I pulled out a hexipuff in progress while sitting at a bar (yes, alcohol and knitting are a bad combination in my experience, but to my credit I wasn’t drunk yet), and was promptly told by the bartender “You’re too young to be doing that!”

um. Excuse you.

Traveling Knitter

As an intentional homage to our knitting ancestors, I tried knitting while walking last week.

Knitting while walking around Ikea.

I didn’t try to think about how many people were probably staring at me, but I just kept knitting my kfb and ssk the whole way through the store, while also commenting on which furniture I liked the best.

Surprisingly, it was easy. I still cant read and knit at the same time, but I was able to finish a whole hexipuff, start to finish, throughout the entire store.

I highly suggest others try doing this. You’ll find you have a lot more time to finish your projects now. πŸ™‚

The “self-taught” knitter.

It’s an age-old question: if you read a “self-help” book, are you really “self-helping” or are you getting help from someone else? Same goes with knitting. Unless you really learn by literally throwing yarn on a needle and you magically start knitting, you gotta start somewhere.

I think most contemporary knitters learn by seeking out on their own and finding resources to help them learn. Not many families pass knitting through the generations anymore, and home economics is not a valuable class schools like keeping around. SoΒ what designates a “self-taught” knitter? Someone who didn’t take classes or have a mentor coach them?

I consider myself a self-taught knitter. “Self-taught” as in a college student showed me how to knit a scarf when I was 11 years old. After knitting 3 garter stitch scarves that had noticeable slipped stitches and mysteriously ended up skinnier than I started, I quickly forgot this talent. But years later, I found the old skeins of acrylic yarn stashed in a forgotten box somewhere deep in my closet, and the 3 straight knitting needles (one had wandered off to Neverland) that were sizes only available in Europe and figured “hey, I should start that again.” I googled “how to knit” and was off.

My first Google searches were around 2004. (To put this into perspective, YouTube’s first video was uploaded April 23 2005.) Picture illustrations popped up of how to cast-on. I’ve always been a hands-on learner, so I fumbled from the vague pictures for a few hours before getting the hang of it – but I did. For a while. I would have to go back online and refresh my hands on how to cast-on every few months after breaks from knitting.

My first projects were, of course, scarves. They were wide, skinny, garter stitch, funky yarn or worthless. I started working at JoAnn Craft Stores, which was the worst thing I could do for my craft habits. Of course, that’s probably why I wanted tow work there in the first place – I already knew the store like the back of my hand. So whenever someone would come to the register with a new item I had never seen before, I’d rush to buy it once I was off the clock. I bought yarn by the bushel on my breaks. And dear lord help me, I didn’t know yarn weights, fibers or gauge existed. Yarn was yarn.

I attempted cables after seeing a scarf a co-worker had recently bought at Disneyland. I saw it, wanted it, decided I would knit it. It actually looked very similar. That was my first cabled project, and I learned cabling from videos on knittinghelp.com. I looked at knitting patterns like they were alien scrolls. I always looked at a project as something I could make our of squares of knitting, no need for increases or decreases. I knit a very large, very rainbow, very campy messenger bag only out of large blocks of garter stitch folded over and a skinny stockinette stitch scarf. I didn’t realize it then – but I was designing my own patterns.

My point is – I believe being “self-taught” really was the best way for me to grow. By having to figure out the mechanics of knitting myself, playing with the different yarn weights, and figuring out how to make something out of what I already knew, gave me all the fundamentals of knitting I greatly appreciate and use today.

Because I was forced to kind of figure things out for myself as I went along, through trial and error, I understand the work better instead of saying “it is this way because it is.”. I can read my knitting, I can see future sts in my head, etc. Not to say that all knitters don’t end up with this, but not having tutorials or YouTube videos at my fingertips constantly when I was just starting out I think helped me get to my particular way of knitting faster. (Though, bless you YouTube, because picture diagrams leave you lacking, I must admit!)