Book Review

  Kaffe's Classics: 25 Glorious Knitting Designs
by Kaffe Fassett
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First things first: His name is pronounced like "safe asset." And this American-born, British-residing designer can almost singlehandedly be credited with bringing knitting out of the doldroms.

Welcome to the Neighborhood

If you aren't yet familiar with Kaffe Fassett, this book offers an excellent introduction. And if you are familiar with Fassett, then you'll obviously need to add this book to your collection.

That's because it presents a retrospective of his best designs from the Rowan Collections. These are designs you won't find (with the exception of one pattern) in any of his own books. If you don't have any Rowan magazines, this is a good way to kill a whole bunch of birds with one stone.

What's Inside

Fassett offers a brief introduction to his color and pattern theories before launching straight into the collection -- 25 designs in all.

He begins each pattern with a personal explanation of what inspired him to make that particular design. He writes clear, comprehensive patterns that include full schematics of what the finished components should measure.

His color charts reproduce well (you will want to make xerox enlargements), and he is explicit in the yarn types, shades, and amounts required.


All recommended yarns in this book are from Rowan. Several of the patterns call for the now-discontinued Designer DK.

I assume you'll be able to substitute the new Rowan Wool Cotton (a 50/50 blend of both fibers), but I don't know if the color numbers will remain the same. You can always check with your local yarn shop before stocking up.


My one gripe? On the back of the cover is a photo of a model wearing the Whirling Star Waistcoat. You'll also find another image of it inside.

Yet the pattern isn't included in the book! The Whirling Star crewneck is included, but the shaping for the vest is so distinctly different that I wouldn't feel comfortable trying to tweak it myself. This was the one pattern I wanted to knit. Alas.


Many of his patterns include color charts that would drive all but the bravest knitters off a cliff. If you're patient enough to knit one of his garments, my hat's off to you. It will, without question, be a show-stopper.

But if you're like me and lack that kind of patience, you'll still enjoy this book. First, the photos and garments are gorgeous. I've spent hours staring at the designs and sighing wistfully.

And second, you can always excerpt parts of his color patterns for other, smaller-scale items like pillows, hats, or even insets for simpler sweaters.

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Reader Comments

"Many people say 'I could never do that!' when they see my colorful knitting. Luckily, I was too 'ignorant' when I started (8 months ago) to know that the things I was knitting were 'too difficult.' I think it was like learning to drive on a stick-shift; when I drove an automatic it seemed easy. Feel the fear and try it anyway!!" aclipfel, 7/27/01

"There's something I wish every knitter would remember: Don't underestimate yourself. While I've never used one of the Kaffe Fassett's patterns because I'm too busy using my own imagination, I've come to realize that we can do as much as we dare. If you can remember to take a pattern one stitch or one line at a time, you have the ability to accomplish great knitting feats. Commit yourself to taking the time you deserve for your knitting projects. Let yourself grow."
  Joni, 11/16/00

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