Entrelac: Using short rows to build color and texture

Entrelac Knitting with Kathryn Alexander

Do you remember this cover from the Winter 1992 issue of Spin-Off? The socks on this cover were made by Kathryn Alexander after she took a workshop from Diane Varney. Kathryn tells the story of how these socks came into being in her new video, Entrelac Knitting with Kathryn Alexander. I'll see if I can do it justice.

In the early 1990s, Kathryn and her mother enrolled in a spinning class taught by Diane Varney, author of Spinning Designer Yarns (Interweave, 1987), and during the class, Diane showed a sock that she had acquired during her biking travels through Tibet. Diane traded socks with a Tibetan shepherd who had invited her and her husband to his yurt for a meal—each went away from the encounter completely delighted with their new socks.

Kathryn and her mother were captivated by the interlocking squares across the top of the sock and spent a great deal of time examining it and trying to figure out how they were made. When they returned to their respective homes afterwards, each was determined to replicate the socks. Kathryn's mother surprised her with a gift of socks for her birthday. The socks were made using short rows to build small shapes, entrelac. Inspired by her mother's success, Kathryn kept playing around with the color combinations and within a year the socks had become her trademark project—and entrelac her technique. Diane Varney sent her one of the Tibetan socks as a Christmas present.

Kathryn is still exploring the possibilities of entrelac—it is really fascinating to watch her fingers fly. She also has figured out a way to work around the frustration of turning your work constantly with short rows—and she shares that in her video along with a lot of other great tips and techniques.

Kathryn has stuck with entrelac all this time because she's found that within the framework of entrelac, there are endless combinations of shapes and color. What amuses her most about entrelac is the way the whimsical shapes make people smile. And when she combines entrelac knitting with handspun singles with energy, the resulting surfaces are phenomenal-explosions of texture and color that seem to almost dance with joy.

Happy spinning,

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