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Book Review


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  Kaffe Fassett's Pattern Library
by Kaffe Fassett
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If Barbara Walker brought knitting stitches to the masses, and Elizabeth Zimmermann showed us simple formulas for making these stitches into a fitting garment, then Kaffe Fassett must be credited with opening our eyes to the vast possibilities of knitting with color.

The Many Facets of Fassett
Since he began designing knitwear in the 1970s, Kaffe Fassett has helped put Rowan Yarns on the map, designed for Missoni and London designer Bill Gibb, and—most recently—for the Peruvian Collection catalog.

He is the first living textile artist to have a one-man show at the Victoria and Albert Museum (in 1988). Lately he has expanded his reach to include wallpapers, fabrics, and sets and costumes for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Under the Covers
This book represents a distillation of some 30 years of Fassett's fiber career, with more than 190 of his most ingenious knitted color patterns photographed in swatch form and depicted in charts. With an artist's eye and yarn as his palette, Fassett paints intricate mosaics of color that dance before your eyes. He makes magic look easy.

Geometric Patterns
Fassett begins with geometric patterns—stripes, squares, triangles, diamonds, stars, and circles—that can often be easily committed to memory. This frees you up to experiment more with color without fear of losing your place in a chart.

If you're at a loss for how to apply these patterns to a design, Fassett recommends you begin with a long scarf sampler.

Freeflow Color
In the second chapter, Fassett breaks free with figurative patterns ranging from Mayan goddesses to flowers, fish, birds, cats, leaves, a Warhol-esque group of houses in different colors, and, my favorite, porcelain pots.

Charts
Here we get to the nitty gritty: the actual knitting charts for the designs. Almost all are completed in a simple stockinette stitch, and you'll quickly see that the designs themselves are relatively simple. Your own choice of colors is what adds to (or eliminates) the complexity.

Almost as valuable as the charts are the notes Fassett provides for each design. He writes in a personal, conversational tone as if he were right in your living room. All charts are clearly printed and easy to enlarge by photocopy so you can mark them up without ruining your copy of this beautiful book.

Principles of Color
The fourth chapter delves deeper into the underlying principles of designing with color, including an insightful explanation of Fassett's own approach.

In choosing colors for your projects, he encourages you to look around you for inspiration—trees, flowers, paintings, porcelains, animals, you name it. He also gives some helpful tips on effective color combinations, showing one design in multiple colorways as an example.

The book ends with a brief explanation and illustration of the techniques you can use for your multicolored knitting.

A Must for Color Fans
My most prized used-bookstore find was a pristine hardback copy of Fassett's first book, Glorious Knitting. I've been a devoted fan ever since, although I lack the patience to embark upon any of his full-sized garment designs.

By separating color design from any particular garment, yarn, or needle size, Fassett has made a truly useful, flexible, and inspiring sourcebook that will get your creative juices flowing.

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