Book Report: Kaffe Knits Again

File this one under crafts, D.I.Y., cozy autumn sweaters, good reads and sleek coffee table accessories.

Knitwear designer Kaffe Fassett has just published a how-to book with 24 designs. Knitting fanatics are likely already familiar with Fassett’s work: His earliest designs appeared in British Vogue, giving the usual granny-style booties and mittens a high style twist. Not that Fassett does mittens and booties, of course.

The book, Kaffe Knits Again: 24 original designs updated for today’s knitters follows a typical knitter’s guide format with photos of the wearable pieces up front and the back half of the book dedicated to step-by-step (or, in this case, row-by-row) plans. Patterns include sweaters, vests, throws, bags, scarves and cushion covers. Nothing too off the beaten path style-wise.

Where the book departs from knitting guides of the past is with its rich photography, gorgeous sets and sexy models. Shot on location by Sheila Rock at England’s historic Charleston House, the photos are works of art themselves, evoking moody rain-soaked gardens of emerald green foliage and multi-hued lichens. Indoor sets show off the property’s magnificent art collection, subdued color palate and shabby-elegant predilection for mottled walls and weathered floorboards.

At close inspection, Fassett’s designs — not the pieces so much as the patterns — call to mind Bill Cosby’s late 1980s sweater collection. Crayon box bright yarns produce houses, polk dots, windmills and oversized flowers. There’s a certain middle-agedness to the pastel “puzzle” cardigan and the “tumbling blocks” sweater vest, but that stodginess is well disguised by the young, well-coifed models who manage to look near haughty in wildly-patterned scarves or snuggling into floral-themed throws. Fassett himself, a silver fox, does a turn in front of the camera, managing to turn a checkered blanket into a chic shawl.

It’s worth noting that Fassett draws inspiration from nature, and his richly colored yarns are an update on the original color choices for these designs. The author also notes that while working with color knitting is often considered complicated, “Occasionally, a first-time knitter who hasn’t been warned will try one of my bold, patterned knits and carry it off with great aplomb.”

Knitters, start your needles.

Kaffe Fassett signs copies of his new book at Yarn Paradise (6 All Souls Cres., Asheville, 274-4213) on Monday, Oct. 15, 5 p.m.; for the Asheville Quilt Guild at Asheville Community Theatre (35 E. Walnut St., Asheville) on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 7 p.m.; at Laura’s Yarn Tastic (162 Boone Docks St., Boone, 866-903-YRAN) on Thursday, Oct. 18, 1p.m.; and for the Quilt Shop at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts (423 West King St., Boone, 262-3017) on Thursday, Oct. 18, 7 p.m.

—Alli Marshall, A&E reporter

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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