Wednesday April 18th 2007, 7:18 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Knit

Back when I first started getting seriously back into knitting, 17 years ago, as a way of coping with my new lupus diagnosis, I went looking for–something; I wasn’t sure what. Plain stockinette certainly wasn’t going to do it for me. (The Barbara Walker stitch treasury books had not yet been reprinted.) I went to the local yarn stores and pored over what gansey and fair isle patterns I could find. I knew I could substitute colors from the ones in the pictures, but still, whatever it was I was looking for–and I wasn’t sure what it was–it just wasn’t there. Hmmm.

So eventually I headed over to the library, where Kaffe Fassett’s Glorious Knits book practically fell into my hands; I opened it to the page where he has two models dressed in his Big Diamonds pattern, posed in an amaryllis garden in Holland.

Now, you know I love amaryllises. There was no way on this planet that my hands were ever going to produce anything like the projects on his pages. (I thought.) But that garden! And (oh yeah, those too) those sweaters! I could wish,anyway.

So I checked the book out and took it home. And then renewed it. And renewed it again. Took it back, waited the requisite day or two, checked it out again, renewed it, and finally decided, this was nuts, and simply went out and bought my own copy.

You know what happens next. There was no way I could not at least try that intarsia stuff. The first project was a long mohair vest for my mom, just four colors, Big Diamonds. But now that I was past my fear of the technique, I went whole hog and made his Carpet Coat in 68 shades of wool and mohair, with the yarn carefully collected over quite a few months from many of the local stores. “These are large, but they drape beautifully on everybody…” Yeah, uh huh. I later met Fassett. The man ain’t short. My husband crowed, “It fits me better than it fits you, go make yourself another one!” Note that I am 5’5″ and my husband is 6’8″. The sleeves on his are short for him, but go ask him if he cares. I made that second coat; mine had 86 colors. So there, dude.

Mom wore her vest soon after she got it to a concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and as she was taking her seat, she noticed the woman sitting behind her: who was likewise decked out in a handknit sweater in Kaffe Fassett’s Big Diamonds pattern. They looked at each other a moment, not quite believing the impossibility of it all, and then the other woman laughed, “Don’t you just love that designer’s work?”

I do indeed. He helped pull me back into knitting, bigtime. His work was what I’d been looking for, and all else followed from how thoroughly he got me hooked. I will add the stray thought that I personally believe he is responsible for the popularity of the handpainted yarns that are now on the market; for those who want to play with color for far less work, they’re a great way to go, and he popularized the idea of knitting in many colors in the first place and paved the way forward.

My thanks to Nina for playing model with me.

7 Comments so far
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Wowza! Amazing accomplishment! I love his colors. They make my heart sing. 🙂

Comment by Romi 04.19.07 @ 9:26 am

Thank you! I did that second coat in two weeks. Which was nuts, but great fun.

Comment by AlisonH 04.19.07 @ 5:15 pm

Wowee. Those are GORGEOUS! I love how your hair is in braids, little dutch lady. It’s the little details. 🙂

-Miss Knotty.

Comment by Miss Knotty 04.19.07 @ 9:10 pm

Ok I am commenting on this late. 🙁
I love that picture of the two of you. But. Could we please have a close-up of those gorgeous coats?
Thank you. 🙂

Comment by Karin 04.25.07 @ 2:01 pm

Sure, Karin, I’ll be glad to. Give me a day or two, got college kids coming home today and tomorrow.

Comment by AlisonH 04.25.07 @ 5:10 pm

[…] Kaffe Fassett phase is described here.  Discovering his “Glorious Knits” helped really push me back into the world of […]

Pingback by SpinDyeKnit 09.07.08 @ 10:19 pm

Once I got over the fact that there are two enormous kaffe intarsia jacket sized sweaters in this post, I realized YOU MADE TOFU! I am in awe. I thought the only way to eat tofu was how I buy it,in prefabbed compressed squares(who decided it should be square anyway? My kid and husband might actually eat it if it were superhero shaped). Anyway I’d hate be the fool to tell you something can’t be done. My hat nevere tastes good.

Comment by Michelle 09.08.08 @ 6:59 am

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