I’m still buzzing about our Zoom conversation with Kaffe Fassett on Sunday. One emblem of his joie de knitting was the astonishing blanket hanging behind him in his Zoom room. It was a patchwork of knitted swatches, fabric swatches, a wild kaleidoscope of color and pattern.
“Gosh that’s cool,” I said.
“Yes,” he replied. “We’ve made about twenty blankets from my swatches.”
Twenty blankets. Can you imagine what a sight it would be to see all those blankets together?
He is such a joymaker. He doesn’t get too fussed when it comes to knitting—he’s helping to liberate us all from our fears about working with color and pattern.
He has certainly helped me.
Intarsia: Easier Than Eating a Blowfish
Until this year, intarsia was just one of those things. Along with weird seafood, botox, and bikinis, intarsia was a thing I was never going to do.
That is, until it came to pass that Kaffe Fassett wanted to do intarsia for an MDK Field Guide. I couldn’t in good faith publish a Field Guide involving a technique I feared!
The minute I saw Kaffe’s Kites swatches, I knew I had to get over myself. I recalled MDK Rule No. 72: “No project is too ambitious if you crave the result enough.”
The great news: I overcame my worries. Many months ago, I sat down with the first draft of Kaffe Fassett’s Kites Throw pattern.
It was life changing, in that low-key way that life can change.
It happened so fast that I feel sort of stupid for having let my fear keep me from what turns out to be a total joyride.
Let’s take my fears one by one. Maybe these sound familiar to you?
I thought intarsia required me to wind lengths of yarn onto unattractive plastic bobbins that instantly tangle up. This is not true.
Swatching Kaffe Fassett’s Kites pattern showed me that I can keep my lengths of yarn to about a meter or two, and the strands simply flow behind my work.
When Kaffe says “Pull from the tangle,” that’s what I do. Only rarely do I need to stop to loosen up the strands.
I somehow thought intarsia was more end intensive than stranded knitting. There are ends, yes, plenty of them. But the ends are not endless.
There is an end to the ends, usually while in the midst of a good TV binge. Also: I have been felting the ends in some of my Kites triangles, when I’m adding another length.
The new rhythm of this kind of knitting has me in its thrall.
MOAR INTARSIA. To have an entirely new technique available to me is such a gift. It’s a wide-open horizon of possibility. If you’re looking for a way to feel great, intarsia is it. I hope everybody gives it a try.
As for this swatch, made with oddments of Felted Tweed, it is now approaching Kaffe size.
I love working on it, even when colors collide in unexpected ways. These are just colors I had on hand. I’m looking forward to working with the Kaffe palettes in the Felted Tweed bundles we’ve cooked up for the Field Guide No. 16 projects.
I’m not sure what I’ll do with my intarsia swatch, but maybe if I keep at it for forty or fifty years, a blanket is in my future?
PS Scroll down to see all the Felted Tweed bundles of Kaffe colors we’ve pulled together for the projects in Field Guide No. 16: Painterly and also Field Guide No. 13: Master Class. The palettes are juicy and surprising.
PSS Check out Jen Arnall-Culliford’s new video tutorials in “Little Lessons: Intarsia 101”—Jen is calmness personified.
PSSS A quick reminder to have a peek at our Holiday Shop lookbook. Gifts galore.