The Noro Wavy Gravy hat debacle

Everyone seemed to love the one-skein Noro Kureyon Wavy Gravy hat, so I decided to try it. Went out, bought Noro Kureyon yarn (at 30% off, woohoo!) and brought the needles with me for Thanksgiving. I learned to do a yarn-over, and I was ready to go.

First off, I think I have the most fiendishly tight cast-on in the history of knitting. I need to learn this. You’d think I’d figure it out after ruining projects with a too-tight cast-on. But no. I’m stupid, apparently. It didn’t take long for me to realize this wasn’t going to be a hat for an adult. 

Not a problem: I would just make it shorter to compensate, and then go from there. First problem: solved. I assume God knows a child is in need of a hat, and if I’m donating the thing anyhow, it might as well fill a need rather than be exactly what I planned. (God’s pretty smart.)

Next problem: Noro Kureyon is a self-striping yarn. I think that’s the term. Basically, the yarn changes color every so often while going up the skein in order to create a hat that’s ten colors but you’ve only knitted with one yarn. And this would be good, except…

About two-thirds of the way through the hat, the yarn ended. And they’d knotted it onto the end of another piece of yarn in order to continue it. But it wasn’t the same color. This meant my yarn had gone from teal to orange to red to purple….right back to orange.

I knew this would look like heck. Moreover, the knot was a tiny knot, and every knitting book I’ve ever seen says emphatically, “Don’t make just a tiny knot in the yarn or it’s going to come apart and ruin your project.” Hence the whole “Weaving in ends” thing that I hate doing. And yet it’s fine for the machine to do that? And mess up the color?

We were driving when I discovered this. So, feeling like an idiot, I did the only thing I could do without a scissors: I unwound the yarn, pulled the fibers apart, and broke the yarn in front of the knot. Then I wound the yarn up into a ball until I reached the next purple part. I joined the yarn by felting it together, and then I kept knitting. It seems to have worked.

I’m now ready to do decreases. At this point, it’s all just knitting and knitting two together…and then the yarn broke mid-stitch.

I’ve only been knitting for two years, so I don’t know if this is a frequent occurrence, but the yarn simply snapped apart in my hands. I tinked backward and then felted the ends back together.

I’m wondering what’s going to go wrong next, but you know what? It’s yarn. If I totally mess it up, I can unravel the whole thing and start over. The world won’t end (which I think we proved last Wednesday.) 

And next time, maybe I won’t cast on so freakishly tight. But don’t count on it.


  1. Cricket

    I’ve never heard of “tinking” before. I assume that’s what the connected folk call “undoing carefully”. One of the worst parts of knitting.

    About the casting on. I used to collect methods. Mom taught me “long tail” or “continental”. Very firm edge, but if you guess wrong you need to start again, and I found it hard to keep the tension consistent. I invented a variation with a second, smaller needle, to help, but still didn’t enjoy it. My first book had one that’s too lacy even for lace — just a bunch of half-hitches. For a while I asked every knitter I saw to show me how they did it. I found at least 5. I now use cable cast-on.

    (Yesterday I spent my procrastination time drooling over knitted doilies, and there are even more ways!. I was washing the good diskes. I stack napkins between them so the don’t rattle when the kids walk, but a set of doilies would be a nice, proper thing, don’t you think? The project box can hold a few more, now that the afghan’s out.)

    It’s worth trying a few different ways, to find one that your hands like. (I know one knitter who casts on differently for each type of project: lacy, firm, stretchy. Yep, do the worst part of the project several times over, to experiment.)

    I usually cast on and off with needles a size or two larger than the project calls for. Much better to have too loose.

    As for the yarn, I’m not impressed with the knott or the break. Definitely not a knitter operating the machine that day. Does the thickness normally vary enough to risk breaks? You might be able to get a replacement ball, but that doesn’t do you any good in the car.

  2. Ivy

    Cricket, “tink” is “knit” spelled backwards. It means to unknit, one stitch at a time.

    Jane, Noro is notorious for this. You did the right thing in finding the next pattern repeat, and the felted join works very well with this yarn. The knot is there just to let the winding machine continue apace. You are expected to undo or cut the knot and then weave in ends later, or, like you did, do a felted join or a Russian join (my personal favorite). Weird aside: the winding machine (there are several types) has a little device called a “weasel”. You set it to a certain yardage then wind the yarn. It clicks once for every revolution. When that yardage has been hit, “pop goes the weasel”.

    Noro is thick and thin, and until you get the hang of it, you might find the underspun parts far too underspun to hold together under normal tension. You loosen up for that part.

    The trick to loosening up your cast on is to do the knit on cast on and use larger needles. Or two needles held together.

    There are two tricks to estimating the tail. The first is to wrap the yarn around the needle ten times. That’s what ten stitches will take. Multiply accordingly. The most accurate one I’ve found is to realize the cast one edge is a row, and will therefore take a length of yarn three times the edge length. A 10″ row will take 30″ of yarn to knit. Therefore, for a hat, I wrap the end around my head three times and leave enough of a tail to wind in later. Yes, the people on my bus think I’m crazy. It works out every time.

    Wavy Gravy is a fantastic pattern. I’ve knit it so many times I’ve lost count.

    Oh, and yes, the term is “self-striping” and Kureyon was the first self-striping yarn to hit the market.

  3. Cricket

    I can understand the knot in the skein — breaks happen. But now they expect you to throw out everything between the new end and the right place in the pattern. That can be a lot (which explains why they didn’t throw it out themselves).

    Now you’ve got me looking up ways to join. So much faster with the internet than by asking every knitter waiting for kids to finish music lessons. (Hard to avoid housework by taking kids to lessons while they’re in school.)

  4. philangelus

    Cricket, I started the next hat with the unused part because it ends on the same color as the next skein begins. So it won’t go unused.

    Ivy, I’m just not feeling the Kureyon Love everyone else feels, I guess.

    I like the pattern, but I may try it again with a different yarn. The current new hat with the Kureyon is, apparently, much-hated by Satan, because my 5th needle went bye-bye on me. (oy) I cast onto a 10.5 needle, and I think it still may be too tight. I changed over to knitting on a circular needle, though. I figure, if Satan stole my needle, then the least I can do is make the positive choice and learn to be comfortable with circulars. :-b

  5. Ivy

    Cricket, do you get the Knit Picks catalog? They have a tutorial on joins this time around. The Russian join is my fav. Easy, effective, beautiful, and fun.

    Jane, recall the sub/dub debate from anime? The love/hate Kureyon debate rages just as fiercely.

    It’s one of the few yarns I can’t stash. It gets used too soon. I’ve knit a bag for unread comic books with it, hats with it, scarves with it, a vest with it. I’m knitting a blanket with it. I adore it. The long repeats make for an amazing fabric. The stiffness makes for fantastic stitch definition, especially for this pattern. I’d love to see this in a different yarn, and can’t imagine it. It has a rustic charm not found in most other millspun yarns.

    One yarn store owner said (with a bit of wishful thinking as she is in the opposite camp) “We’re all past the Kureyon thing”. It’s unevenly spun. It’s so poorly carded, there are often bits of hay caught up in it. It’s not the softest of yarns, not even close. The colors can get a bit strange and it has one of the highest knots to skein ratios of any yarn out there.

  6. Ivy

    Casting on to a larger needle only helps with certain cast ons. The cable cast on will always be tight. The long tail isn’t affected by needle size. Knit on is you’re best bet for this trick. For the record, the provisional cast on works with this, but clearly doesn’t make sense in this case. The reverse loop is also impacted by needle size, but doesn’t work for knitting in the round unless you knit back the first row first.

  7. philangelus

    The pattern specifically asked for the long tail cast on, so I did it.

    I don’t hate the yarn the way I hate, say, dubs. Or dubtitling. But I’m just not falling in love with it. Sorry.

  8. Ivy

    LOL! Aside from the provisional cast on (and then I go with the traditional, never the crochet) or the beaded cast on, I never even pay attention to what cast on method the designer specified. Provisional because I need to be able to make the stitches live later. Beaded because the beads swinging below the edge are part of the design. Cast on method, for the most part, is knitter’s choice.

  9. Cricket

    Ivy (and Blog Owner 😉 ) Thanks to you two had a wonderfully productive procrsastination session yesterday.

    Russian join doesn’t interest me — you still have to thread needles and sew, and I can’t do it on the fly, say, when watching subbed Gatch. I like her slip-knott idea for mid-row colour change duplicate stitch. (Same colour I just use regular duplicate-stitch.) I’ll try try double-knitt-in at the ends for this afghan. If that doesn’t work, I’ll do a variation on it — forget the old end, do one stitch new (tension’s a bear for the first stitch), then double-knitt-in the next few stitches. It’ll cut the weaving-in by half.