Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Kaffe Fassett: Pattern in Colour

#a month of moments
9. Pattern
When I first looked at the prompts this month, this was one of the first I knew I was going to be able to build a blog post around easily. After all knitting is all about following patterns. And I have had the germ of an idea about a blog post about these particular knitted garments since I first started my blog about 18 months ago.

So here is a glorious fusion of pattern and colour. Deceptively complex but sneakily simple. There are only two colours being used in any one row. (Except for the row with the flower centres).
Many years ago, my aunt gave me the best present. I used to finish half-knitted garments for her. As an enormous thank you she gave me a copy of Kaffe Fassett's Glorious Knitting when it was first published in about 1986.
Slightly battered and the cover is faded. Clearly well loved. There are random kid scribbles on some of the pages in blue pen.
This was my first introduction to the idea that a craft book could also be a coffee table book. As well as patterns, this is also snippets of Kaffe's life story and a sumptuous photographic tour of his design inspiration. It's one of those books I can still get lost in for hours and that I find new inspiration in every time I look at it.
The colour combination here just sings to me. These are so 'me' colours.
This is my favorite design in the book: Zigzag. I have knitted 4 versions of this pattern now. A jumper in creams and jewel tones in my teenage years which I outgrew (it had really narrow sleeves and I developed biceps after having children) and reluctantly donated to an op shop. I miss it. I hindsight, I should have re-purposed it into a cushion or something. I made a child's version for my little sister when she was about 10 in blues and purples which she wore till she wrecked it. (Wheelchairs are not exactly compatible with long term clothing survival).

When my girls were about 6 and 8, ponchos came back into vogue again. This is my first go at designing a pattern. I laid the girls down on the floor, and drew a poncho shape around them making sure the shoulder line fitted correctly. I then did some calculations based on my gauge for this pattern using 8ply (DK weight) wool on 4 mm needles and worked out how many stitches I needed to cast on for the lower edge. I compared the size of the knitting to the paper pattern as I went taking notes for the the second poncho.
This is the eldest daughter's poncho. At this stage of her life she was rebelling against the whole "pink is for girls" thing. So she chose blacks and greys for her poncho. This is all 8ply and wool or wool blends. There's even some fuzzy boucle style yarn as you can see in the following picture. The yarn was divided into two groups, light greys and dark greys / blacks.
Zigzag was also the pattern I used to make a cardigan for myself. This is made in a mixture of 5ply (sportweight) cotton and cotton / acrylic blend yarns. This is unfortunately a little too big for me now as it is heavy and it has stretched somewhat but I wear it belted with the sleeves rolled up.
 This piece of knitting is actually the background of my blog title.
Pretty star shaped shell buttons
And finally here is Mel's poncho. The design used for this one is called Persian Poppy. Mel choose the colours. She was a much more girly girl. Hence the knitted lace edging.
Persian poppy inspiration complete with scribble

I had the pleasure of getting to listen to a public lecture by Kaffe when he was in Australia about five years ago at a Craft Show. He spoke of seeing pattern and color inspiration in everything, in the simplest arrangement of objects, in architecture, in nature and streetscapes. He was an inspiring and magnetic speaker. He's on my wishlist of interviewees for this Year of the Designer.


  1. Great blog! Love seeing your versions from that book - I still have a poppies cardigan and a version of the jacket on the front cover. I particularly like your cardi version, looks like bleached shells on the beach.

  2. Hi Jo-ann just wondering if you have come across this lovely blog


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