Kathryn Alexander

“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 to twist.

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 day”. [From Knitting Daily/ De Knitting Daily].

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