Wednesday, June 24, 2009

...add twenty more colours

Earlier this month RoseRed posted about socks she had made using Kaffe Fassett's Regia sock yarn and declared him to be a 'colour genius'. Of course I agree, but the post set me thinking more generally about the impact Kaffe Fassett's work had on me when his books were originally released in the 1980s.

Fassett 1

I bought 'Glorious Knitting' when it was published in 1985 and later 'Glorious Colour' in 1988. I made a couple of abortive attempts to knit garments from 'Glorious Knitting', but was frustrated by my incapacity to produce the glory of the illustrated garments. No-one would ever praise Kaffe Fassett's technical or pattern writing skills, and my knitting and improvisational ability fell short of what was needed. But 'Glorious Colour' set me off on several years of committed needlepoint, with my own invented patterns and colour combinations.

The colours in Kaffe's books are indeed glorious, and I suspect their publication must have coincided with a time when full-colour pages in books became affordable and easily reproducible. I remember colour seeming to spill riotously from the pages, over which I pored to analyse the original and startling combinations. In his introduction to 'Glorious Knitting' Kaffe Fassett entertainingly writes 'my motto is always - 'When in doubt, add twenty more colours'.

But I think I was even more inspired by the (then) daring profusion of patterns in his work. I'd been fascinated by the way in which different cultures combined patterns, such as the way Javanese women wore several different patterns of batik with brightly coloured clashing lacy or embroidered blouses, or the way Chinese textiles sometimes superimposed floral patterns on geometric backgrounds. Kaffe Fassett seemed to draw on these traditions and others and richly layer them one upon the other. His work had such a sense of abundance.

His influence is still sufficiently great for me to have recently bought his 2007 publication 'Kaffe Knits Again', and to fantasise about how some of his patterns and colour combinations might be used and adapted. And I've bought some Kaffe Fassett Regia Sock Yarn.

Fassett 2

As a footnote, I think some knitting friends with large fibre collections (thank you, MissyFee for this useful term) may like another Kaffe quote from 'Glorious Knitting':
'The best advice I can give is to buy as much [yarn] as you can whenever you can'.


Rose Red said...

heh, thanks for the last quote!! I shall tell my husband. And no doubt he will say "Kaffe who?"

Great photos too - especially the latter.

Lynne said...

I have been a Kaffe Fassett fan forever! [well it seems like it]. I knittied myself waht I now call the "Harlequin" jumper - it was my own design inspired by KF. IT has 60+ different balls of yarn in it! I think it passes the colour test [subtly]! LOL

And yes, to knit the way he does one would have to buy as much yarn as one could whenever one could!

PS I have always called mine a "collection"!

m1k1 said...

I'm with you guys in the KF fan club. One of my favourite books of his is "glorious inspiration" which he describes as a needlepoint source book. Just crammed with photos of art and inspiration, all stunningly colourful. Makes me want to play colours all day long.

DrK said...

excellent quote and excellent choice of yarn there, i love the way he combines things that wouldnt normally be seen together.

M-H said...

He is a genius, no doubt in my mind. I have made the Kilim jacket from Kaffe's Classics, and it is beautiful, but when can I ever wear a garment knitted in the equivalent of 14ply weight yarn in (relatively) balmy Sydney? I keep it for winter trips to Canberra, so I wear it abut twice every three years! As you know, I'm also planning to make a vest using his Persian Poppies technique soon. But of course I will be only able to try and approach his use of colour - the Kilim jacket was really a paint by numbers exercise using his choice of yarns.