The Queen of Twist Energy in singles yarn is Kathryn Alexander, who has spent her fibre career exploring what yarn will do when it’s highly energized. Kathryn loves to play Z and S spun yarns against one another to pattern her fabric. You can also vary your fabric patterns and textures by using yarn spun in one direction. In this photograph, I used Z spun Merino singles and alternated stockinette stitch bands with reverse stockinette. Neither resembles conventional stockinette:
My favourite scarf, shown here, is knitted in Merino/Silk singles, in garter stitch with occasional dropped stitches and small nepps thrown in just for fun:
The yarn was very tightly twisted and corkscrewed as I knit it. The scarf doesn’t look like much, butwhat I love about it are its tactile qualities. Every time I wear it, I find myself playing with the fabric, fondling the beads and generally enjoying its texture. It also has amazing elasticity:
When you work with energized singles, use them straight from the bobbin. (Winding them into balls virtually guarantees snarling, on your part and the yarn.) Use larger needles than you normally would for that yarn, because the yarn has to be able to move in the fabric and it will shift in the finishing. Stay with simple stitches, such as garter stitch, stockinette, seed or basic lace patterns; allow the energy to determine the look of your fabrics.
High energy yarns are not limited to singles. This little bag, knitted in 2 ply hand spun, naturally dyed Romney, was an attempt to make a durable bag which will withstand abrasion and hard use. I knit it in the round, twisting the stitches by alternating knitting in the back or front of the stitch. This adds strength to the fabric, which was then machine washed and dried:
Each colour was rewound on two bobbins for plying under tension. The process of adding twist to the 2 ply yarn was the same as for the singles. I wound the yarns into skeins and gave them a hot wash and rinse, with lots of hand agitation. The bag has a very hard hand compared to a typically spun Romney. It would be torment to wear a fabric from this yarn, but it’s perfect for a bag, or anything else requiring durability.