I Blame Kaffe Fassett OR Why I Knit

A photo of a photocopy of the photo that started me knitting. Sorry I can’t properly credit the original photographer, but my copy of the book is in a box somewhere in a storage locker. Hence the photocopy.

Just as it did with the Folkwear patterns, this story starts in Harvard Square, Cambridge. Sometime near the end of my college career, I ran across the book Creative Dressing by Kaori O’Connor in a store there, saw the picture at the top of this post, and fell in love. It’s the Turkish Carnation Cardigan by Kaffe Fassett, one of two sweaters of his that O’Connor included in her book. (The book is long out of print, but you might be able to get a used copy here or here.)

At the time, I did not know how to knit. And I didn’t know any knitters who loved me enough to make me a sweater in an eleven color, decidedly complex, stranded colorwork pattern. So I shut the book and went on my way. But the sweater stuck in the back of my mind.

A year or so later, sitting around my father’s house with a B.A. in Philosophy and no earthly idea what I was going to do with my life now, I decided to teach myself to knit. I did it deliberately in order to make THE sweater. The one I remembered from the book I had seen in Harvard Square.

No one in her right mind starts out with colorwork knitting. So I didn’t. I got some royal blue acrylic yarn and a couple of books about knitting and I made myself a (relatively) simple one color sweater. I may have made something before that, but I remember the sweater as the first thing I made, and this is my story, so the sweater it is.

I’m pretty sure I never wore that sweater. Or not more than a few times. It was too long for me and I realized after the fact that I had misread directions on how to make a knit stitch and every single knit stitch in that sweater was actually a twisted knit stitch because I had knit through the back of the loop. Oops.

I added a little bit of colorwork for the next sweater, which was white with an abstract version of a fairisle style yoke – some blobs that were supposed to be flowers. My third sweater was stripes in four colors with a bit of a lace stitch and white diamonds on one of the repeating stripes.

Then I lucked out (or fate intervened) and I found a remaindered copy of O’Connor’s book at a local bookstore. So my fourth sweater was THE sweater. Then I didn’t knit anything for a while, because everything else looked pretty dull after a Kaffe Fassett original.

After I started knitting again, I made a second Kaffe Fassett sweater.

I had THE sweater for about 30 years until it succumbed to time and moths. I didn’t still have any of the original yarn, so I couldn’t repair it. But I’m currently working on version 2.0, my second Turkish Carnation Cardigan. And I still have the story.

Version 2.0 in the works. This time with fourteen colors.

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