Here is my first pair of Noro socks after washing and blocking.
The good news: they are much softer after a washing.
The bad news: they are not as soft as most other commercial sock yarns I've used. They are about tied with a couple of coarser Opals and there is one Fortissima (National USA) that is comparable.
I wore these for a day - I felt the stitches more than I like, but they weren't uncomfortable.
I've given them a second wash - this time soaking in Eucalan for half and hour and spinning out.
Here is a second pair.
For this pair I wound the ball from the INSIDE instead of from the outside. That was an even bigger nightmare than winding from the outside. Snarl after snarl after snarl!
Knitting the socks was comparable to the first pair, with the yarn twisting up on itself at least every other row. However, the pair didn't take as long to knit as I adapted to its quirks. (But still double the time they should take.)
And for my third pair:
This pair isn't washed/blocked yet.
And I tried something different for winding - I used a cone winder instead of a ball winder, and beginning from the outside of the ball.
This is a Royal Cone Winder I got on eBay a few years ago. It came with 2 cones. I'd like to have a few dozen more cones! On this winder the Noro was easy. No tangles, even at the end of the ball. I did wind at a slower, more cautious speed, particularly near the end.
Knitting from the cone was 1000% improved over my first two pairs. I did get a bit of twist up, but maybe once every 15 - 20 rows, which is bearable. And I did have to pay close attention on heels and toes that the yarn didn't jump out of the carrier, but this too only happened a few times vs every time.
So - a much more pleasant experience.
Matt was asking about knots in this yarn. My first ball was knot free. The second two balls had a few knots in each. So, no better or worse than most.
Matt also asked about washing in the skein. I forgot I was going to try that and have run out of Noro to try. Oops.
And Laurie asked if the yarn was single ply. It is a two ply. Thick and thin. The twist in the two plies is extremely variable - and I presume that is intended as the plies are different colours and the variation adds to the effect.
The colours of these three Noro's are, IMHO, quite spectacular. And while slower knitting on a sock machine would be an issue for me (and even more so as this is an expensive yarn), perhaps it would not be for you stick handlers ;o)
But the softness, or lack of it, is a big issue for me as someone who sells socks, and more particularly if the socks are set out with other socks from softer yarns. So, I'll be anxious to see how the socks soften after their foray into Eucalan and after a few washes.
I've seen customers choose colour over softness before, but this is more of an exception than the rule.
Tomorrow the second wash socks will be dry and I'll know if the Eucalan made silk of sows ear. And then I'll know if I will buy more Noro, or scratch it off my list.....