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  • Writer's pictureLois Petren

I'm in a Kaffe Fassett Frame of Mind

Updated: Jan 14

Happy New Year, one and all! I hope 2020 will be a great year for everyone with good health, time spent with family and friends and lots of time spent knitting! May all your knitting resolutions be fulfilled!

Living near Pasadena, CA, basically means one thing at New Year's - Rose Parade and game! The city and surrounding area is taken over with preparations for the big day. As we typically do on New Year's Eve night, we headed over to S. Orange Grove Blvd. to sneak a peak at the Rose Bowl floats as they rolled in to line up for the parade. It's a great big block party with tons of flowers, plants and people. Some of the local people camp out overnight along the parade route to ensure a good spot at the curb in the morning. Here's some of what we saw this time.

I've been spending a lot of time with an old friend lately, although he doesn't know that - or me! Thanks to the folks at Mason-Dixon Knitting, I've been obsessed with the colors of Rowan Felted Tweed, exploring ways to turn them into colorwork cowls, pillow covers and blankets inspired by designs from Kaffe Fassett! He's been my favorite hand knitting designer for decades and this experience has set me on a walk down memory lane.

Our "friendship" goes back to the 1980s when I discovered his fruit and vegetable inspired needlepoint kits and made a bushel basket-full of those. Then I began exploring his knitting designs and made a vest for my boyfriend. I learned that I could just cut off a length of yarn and knit it up instead of carrying all the strands on bobbins (which was standard practice at the time). This little trick was great - so easy to untangle strands of yarn that aren't attached to a block of plastic!

But I digress. I've been thinking about my Kaffe Fassett knitting tour de force, which I made in the early 1990s - the woolen version of the Foolish Virgins sweater. This is the one that uses a bunch of different Rowan yarns and many yarn colors.

Back then my favorite yarn shop was the Tomato Factory Yarn Store in Lambertville, NJ, on the banks of the Delaware River just across from New Hope, Bucks County, PA. They had to order the yarn for me and after it finally arrived I dove in with needles blazing. Every part of the sweater was a new adventure, with all the different colors and pattern charts. I loved every minute of it.

I wanted an all-consuming project to occupy my time during my long commuting hours. This sweater certainly fit the bill! I commuted between Princeton, NJ and New York City every day and carried that project with me back and forth on the train for almost a year. I also carried it with me between New Jersey and SoCal, where I travelled to spend time with my boyfriend, who by then had become my fiancé. Those ladies were my constant companions and silent witnesses to the events unfolding in my life.

The sweater was finished shortly before I moved to California to be with my new husband. Ironically, with our mild winters, I don't get to wear it very often but do pull it out a few times a year when we have winter cold spells. OK - some of you would call the the weather "cool"! But that low humidity that makes 90 degrees feel comfortable also makes 45 feel like an Arctic blast!

And more than 25 years later, here I am, once again working on new Kaffe Fassett projects, happily continuing the tradition and it gives me as much satisfaction as I got from making that amazing sweater so many years ago.

Thanks for the memories, Kaffe Fassett!

Happy knitting!


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