|A Kathryn Alexander jacket design using energized yarn. What a beauty!
There are all kinds of yarns: single ply, novelty, variegated, worsted-weight, hand-dyed, and so on. But until I got the eMag SpinKnit
, I'd never heard of "energized yarn."
, energized yarn is described thusly: "The simple test of an "energized" yarn is that if a loop of the yarn is
hang loosely, the yarn will ply back on itself.
Artist Kathryn Alexander uses energized yarn in her amazing designs (see one of her jackets at left), and she's explored the world of energized yarns for many years.
What might energized yarn mean for your
knitting? I thought I'd excerpt an article from SpinKnit
to show you. Here you go.Yarn with a Mind of its Own
No one who has ever met Kathryn Alexander would be surprised to learn that she
is the maven of energized yarns. She is an energy field unto herself, a
creative force majeure
who thinks of
yarn and textiles in three dimensions, and who never met a "What if?" or "Why
not?" that she didn't like. So it's no surprise that this independent artist
loves yarn that also has a mind of its own.
When we speak of using energized yarns, we are generally talking
about singles that have not been "finished" with moisture and heat. Plying
tends to balance the energy in the singles that are plied together, and
finishing removes the energy, whereas a fresh singles will always tend to twist
to one side or the other. Because an energized yarn twists, fabric made with it
will also tend to twist.
Traditionally, weavers have often worked with energized singles because plying
is labor-intensive and balanced yarn isn't necessary for a woven fabric: the
interlacement of warp and weft tends to balance out the twist energy in the
yarns so that the fabric will lie flat. Knitters have tended to use more
balanced yarns, because an energized single will make the knitted fabric want
But Kathryn Alexander is anything but a traditional knitter (or weaver, for
that matter.) She is fascinated with three-dimensional fabrics, and she tells
stories of prowling the junkyards of San Francisco in the 1990s seeking copper
wire to weave avant-garde
, stand-up-by-themselves garments sold in New York
boutiques. She got interested in energized yarn in a class where the teacher showed her a woven sample that looked like knitting. And Kathryn, of course, thought "What if?" What if you could
make knitting look like weaving? What if
you could work with the twist energy and take advantage of its effect on the
knitted fabric? And thus began a journey of discovery that continues to this
In the following video from SpinKnit
, Kathryn talks about what attracts her to energized yarn.
takes you on a journey with Kathryn. You'll explore videos
where she talks about her love of energized yarns and their big potential and
payoff for spinners and knitters, see a slide show of Kathryn's work, learn
techniques for working with energized yarns, and try out a unique sock
pattern, Peaks and Swirls, using mill-spun singles or your own handspun.
Kathryn says, everyone has those bobbins of singles waiting to be plied. Why
not skip that step and get yourself some instant gratification and some very
cool socks at the same time?
Download your issue of SpinKnit today!