This man's name rhymes with "SAFE ASSET".

Because I own a knitting store, I'm lucky enough to receive a great publication called Yarn Market News, a trade magazine uniting and informing all of us about the state and the future of the knitting industry in North America. On the back page of each issue, there is a Q&A session with a major knitting/crochet designer. The latest issue featured Kaffe Fassett, and finally someone has discovered a way for the world to remember how to say his name.

In my youth, I was part of a very strange and underpopulated breed: "Young, Obsessive Knitters of the '80's" . With no internet support as exists today, and very little peer enthusiasm, you can imagine how I cherished my barely-watchable home recorded video tapes of Kaffe's PBS series: "Knitting with Color" (I believe that was the title). This great artist had rescued my colour knitting from the hell of monocromatic afghans and Mary Maxim bulky picture sweaters.

I fell very hard (artistically speaking) for him and his way of looking at our colourful world. And during the 1992 Winter Olympics I completed a bright (verging on neon), gigantic (60" finished chest") pullover of the gaudiest acrylics on the market. I may not have learned too much then about the beauty of natural fibres but I sure jumped in with both feet on the colour side of things. And this, more than a decade before the Yarn Harlot typed her now famous, and redundant question onto her blog: "Hey, you know what would be fun?" to then go on to describe her Olympic knitting idea, the frenzy of which has yet to be surpassed in the knitting world (although - only 6 more months to Beijing!)

Over the years, I've used many of Kaffe's ideas in my designing, and am blessed with a partner who is very proud of his sweaters (and luckily can pull off the colour thing quite well.) I love the randomness of Kaffe's technique of a bag of like-colours, where you reach in and grab the next piece without planning, as seen in the background of this take on a pattern from Philopher's called "Alligator's teeth" or something like that.

Unfortunately, my favourite colour blending that I've done was in this vest which is not too visible here but essentially used the same technique of picking from a bag of "lights" for the background and a bag of "darks" for the diamonds.
Other Kaffe inspired sweaters that I've done but not pictured here are the "Tumbling Blocks" pullover that I had to stop wearing to school when I was a teacher, after repeated lessons where I would notice students staring with glazed eyes at my torso, trying to figure out if the "steps went up or down". Then there was the entrelac sweater that I began for my 10 month old where each square was a different colour (32 colours in all if I remember). I finally threw out the unfinished back when she was 10 years old.

One of my favourite Kaffe designs, which is pictured here is called "The Foolish Virgins". I remember when a customer (who was actually a professional knitter) came in with the pattern half done, declaring that "You would have to be a foolish virgin in order to tackle it." I couldn't say, although it really is a beautiful design.
Which brings me to my favourite aspect of Kaffe Fassett's designs: In any of his many publications, you can find charts which are almost mindless in the simplicity of their construction, or you can go to the other extreme - as in the case of the above mentioned virgins - and there are usually a couple that are open to the individuals interpretation where you can just wing it. He offers something for the artist in all of us. The knitters, quilters, needlepointers, mosaic builders of the world owe him a great debt.

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