I found this book, Glorious Knitting (1985) by Kaffe Fassett on the shelf of a used book shop. I was immediately drawn to the cover art and once I flipped through I knew I had to buy the book.
A knitter of only two years at the time, the only thing I knew about its author, Kaffe Fassett was that he was mentioned to be a relative who was a well-known knitwear designer in a newer memoir/cookbook My Nepenthe which I read and reviewed (here).
This is Fassett's first book on knitting. I loved it at first sight. First I looked at every photograph then went back to the beginning and read it cover to cover. Twice since then I've re-read the book and skimmed through it other times for visual inspiration.
The introduction should be read not skipped. Here the reader is inspired to take the leap into colorful knitting. This book was published in 1985 and apparently back the most knitters were knitting in one color and adding interest to their projects by using different stitches or cables.
I enjoyed Fassett's encouragement to experiment with color and the statement that no one automatically knows about color harmony or is born with a color sense. People learn about how color works through playing with it, using it in knitting or other art mediums. (Fassett was first a fine art painter.) Fassett said that by doing and experiencing, one learns to really see things. Their power of observation is awakened, and whereever one goes, whatever one sees in real life can inspire. Fassett drew inspiration from fine art works in museums and what he saw while traveling.
Fassett tells his story of discovering knitting after seeing many colors of yarn at a factory in Scotland which he visited with his friend Bill Gibbs. Fassett wound up buying many balls of yarn that day and learned to knit on the train ride home to London. (Born in America, he was then living in England.) He later became a knitwear designer.
"Many people were afraid that the 'average knitter' would not be able to cope with numerous colors and complex-looking graphs." Fassett states in the book's introduction. He went on to teach knitting in color workshops and to lecture to knitters, liberating them to a brighter more colorful knitting experience. He stated Zoe Hunter was the designer of his garments.
Four pages explain color knitting then the book explodes into bright pages full of knitted garments and items. Patterns are provided but there are more projects photographed than patterns provided.
The book is visually stunning with professional models in amazing locations sometiems with interesting people of that country. The texture and color of some architecture or natural settings in and of themselves sometimes are breathtaking and inspirational. A dark sweater with black, purple and blues against a dark rock wall, red brick and purple hydrangea blossoms behind. Cottage gardens, tropical flowers, wildflowers, flowering trees, autumn leaves, textured stucco walls and blue washed doors with peeling paint. It's all eye candy.
The designs for the garments are typical mid-1980s: over-sized bodies and wide sleeves, tunic length sweaters over tight pants. Brightly colored tops over more plain pants. Wide shoulders and big coats. I won't fault the book for fashions of 25 years ago that are no longer in vogue (although right at this moment some of these are coming back).
I love the message of freeing oneself with color. The color harmony topic is timeless. Even though I'd never wear some of these designs as they are either too bold for me or no longer in style I am inspired by seeing them. The inspirational photos are worth the price of the book, even if your project winds up being a different design or shape to fit with today's fads or what works best with your body type. Fassett encourages knitters to adapt his patterns and colors after experimenting with their own yarn.
I was thrilled to find this book and went on to read all of Kaffe Fassett's books. (I plan to review all his knitting books.)