21st CENTURY ART, C.E. - B. C.

...the geometry is the light...


Kaffe Fasset

Kaffe Fassett (I originally pronounced his name "coffee fawcett", until I learned from his sister to pronounced it "Kafe Facet") is about as unpretentious a genius as you can find these days.

He lives blissfully in the realms of color, pattern and design, completely seduced by the glorious riot of yarns, threads, fabrics, textures, the prospect of combining them, the joy of trying EVERYTHING!!!!!. Anyone interested in knitting or quilting or needlepointing or any other use of fabric would do well to dip into his, by now, enormous collection of books. Always one to encourage the improvisations of others, his advice is delightfully open-ended in regard to both design and the purchasing of supplies. "Run out of a color, give the work a chance to sing" -- might be a good paraphrase of his advice.

Even though a needlepointer, I tend to admire his knitting philosophy the most, "--when in doubt, try it!" Visit his Website -- not nearly as glorious as his work. But go there, read his books, take his advice, enchance your work and your life with the advice from one of the most joyous geniuses of the grid arts, the great arts of textiles and fabrics.

"It's best to plunge in and surprise yourself at the beauty, wit and harmony you can produce." (Fassett Website) Fassett, for the most part, concentrates on color and design, using only two basic stitches in needlepoint, the tent stitch for detailed work, and the long stitch to cover areas quickly, also only a few basic stitches in knitting -- "So," he says,"all you really have to think about are the colours." Though he uses all kinds of yarns, he tries to keep at least an 80% ratio of natural yarns in every work or garment.

"... a sense of colour," he says," is not something you automatically know about; you discover and rediscover its secrets by playing with it and, above all, by constantly looking. So as well as giving you some of my patterns in great detail, I particularly want to show you how these designs evolved -- the experimenting with sourcs of inspiration for colorurs and shapes that is a never-ending process." from Glorious Knitting.

Fassett, starting out as a painter, leaped over the stringent taboo in the '60s againt serious artists dabbling in crafts. Strongly attracted to the beauty of colored yarns, he began knitting -- in, as he puts it, ignorant bliss, and quickly discovered, as most stitchers do, that complexity is an illusion. If the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, one might say, a lifetime of intricate joy begins with a single stitch, and then another and another and another...

Fassett's work has been exhibited in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, as well as in Europe, Japan, Australia and North America. He has created interiors, as well as ballet sets and costumes. He gives innumberable workshops.

"My mother" he has said, "knitted a full length coat in the last two weeks of her life. That's the way I want to go." Be sure to visit Kaffee Fasset's own Website

Images Copyright © Kaffe Fassett, 1997 from both Glorious Needlepoint and Glorious Knitting.

21st Century Art, C.E. - B.C., A Context

Copyright © Jan Haag 2000


Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: jhaag@janhaag.com