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Dear Ann:

Waiting on French Mustard 363 has given me time to reminisce, to think deep thoughts, and to contemplate how to modify perfection.


I can’t believe how long it’s been since the evening I heard Kaffe Fassett speak at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and got to meet him briefly. The pictures are awful, but the memory is clear. I took so much of what he said to heart. Especially the part about the color wheel.

Deep Thoughts


Reminiscing led me to unearth my copy of Glorious Knitting, Kaffe Fassett’s 1985 book, which has the Big Flower Jacket pattern in it under a different name, Damask Flower.


It’s lucky I have the book, because the pattern that came with the kit doesn’t show the front of the jacket. (Thanks, circa 2002 me with the eBay habit!)

The book also includes some notes from Kaffe that were not included with the kit pattern. For example, Kaffe writes:

The idea of a huge dominating central theme is inspired by Japanese kimono designs. In particular, I like the way the Japanese split a motif down the middle, as I have done on the fronts of the jacket.”

Kaffe also points out that the Damask Flower motif itself originated in a fragment of 18th-century Spanish silk damask that he saw in a book called Textile Collections of the World. 

I like knowing this stuff.

Glorious Knitting is a treasure trove of Kaffe-ness. It’s all in there, so many patterns that Kaffe has continued to reference and reimagine over the decades: Persian Poppies! Stars, diamonds, ikat, and the “Carpet Pattern” that looks like a vintage kilim. It’s fun to look at this work from 1985 with the knowledge that Kaffe later went on to design print fabrics and quilts: the patterns are all of a piece. He is always interested in the same things, and they are always interesting.


(Did these coats not look just a little bit big at the time? Was there something wrong with people’s ability to perceive scale?)


And can we just gaze upon the this handsome face for a moment?


And the beach huts? I do love a row of beach huts.


When I cast on my Big Flower/Damask Flower jacket last weekend, I had decided to knit it according to the pattern, in all its historical accuracy. But commenters made some suggestions, and since I was stalled out waiting for my French Mustard 353, unable to just blindly knit on through all misguided fashions, I listened. I’m going to make two modifications.

First off, I’m not doing to knit the back first and then knit the fronts down separately from the shoulders. That would require absolute precision in replicating the stripe sequence (upside down), and it would also result in three times as many ends to weave in at the sides of  all those stripes. Instead, I’ve cast on enough stitches for the fronts and the back together. I didn’t fuss with subtracting any seam stitches, as I’m planning to work an Elizabeth Zimmermann “phony seam” down each side so that it has a nice fold there. This will save me so much checking and double-checking that I’ve got the stripe sequence correct on the fronts, not to mention the tedium of matching the stripes when sewing side seams. And I think a seam at the shoulders will be a good, sturdy thing.


My second change is even more out of character for me. Reader Vicki R. emailed me to suggest that I take a look at a Ravelry page where a knitter had retrofitted another oversized 1980s Kaffe sweater, the Kilim Jacket, to eliminate the ribbed band at the bottom that pulls the sweater in, to unflattering effect. So I wandered over to DrWittyKnitter’s project page, where I was gobsmacked. Faced with a gorgeous sweater that she didn’t wear because of its ungainly shape, Mary-Helen “cut off the bottom bands, letting the oversized style swing free.” What a difference. Mary-Helen’s project page helpfully shows how she inserted a circular needle above the bottom ribbing on the jacket, cut off the edge, and then knitted a stockinette facing, which she sewed down to form a hem at the edge of the jacket. What a transformation. I knew I had to do it.  Thank you, Mary-Helen! Your clever engineering saved me from sack-of-potatoes syndrome.


Here is my hem.

Happy weekend everybody!






  • Mary-Helen was observant and clever.
    A vast improvement, and your sweater will be so much lovelier.

  • Yes, Kay, people DID have problems perceiving scale back then! This is why the coat looks as if it would fit a Kardashian clan family reunion — or a king-sized sofa bed Are you sure you want to spend the rest of your life knitting this thing???

    • Those “problems” perceiving scale was not just “back then”. Fashion is (like life) cyclical. Case in point: the Dries Van Noten fall collection that Ann showed here several weeks ago. If I remember correctly, there was an oversized Aran sweater vest that was so big, I thought it looked devoid of style. For some reason that hand-knit looked like machine made acrylic to me; whereas, the Damask Flower jacket shown above has a kind of timeless style and beauty.

      • I recall, at the same time we were drooling over these enormous sweaters, I was wearing jeans so tight that they had to have little zippers at the ankle just so I could get my foot through. So, yes, we had issues with perception then.

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have a Kaffe sweater with the same shape I made probably 20 years ago with beautiful intersecting leaves and being a bottom-heavy person I have always felt like a “pear” in it. Consequently it has been worn only a handful of times. It has a knitted-on front band so I’ll probably have to do a little more modification but I’ve mulled doing something like this. Seeing it in someone else’s sweater is inspirational! This modification definitely added to the “to do” list!

  • I’m learning a lot about sweater construction just reading the comments on this blog. Good stuff!

  • Love Glorious Knitting in all its 80s wackiness. I recently saw Truly Madly Deeply, from 1990, and just swooned over the big hair, big sweater, big coat silhouette. Of course if I were to do that now I’d look like a bag lady (with big hair) but I think you will love your big sweater. How could you not, really?

  • I’m so glad you’re leaving the hem straight vs sack of potatoes! Can’t wait to see this thing.

  • Wow Kay! I knit things. You are knitting a PROJECT. Probably a PROJECT of EPIC PROPORTIONS! Go Kay! Ann, your project is nothing to sneeze at! ALL the colors! I can hardly wait to see y’alls progress!

  • Great ideas for the modifications.

    This list sent me scurrying g go find my copy of glorious knitting. Those darling boys wearing the outlined star sweaters – where are they now? Who did they grow up to be?

  • Brilliant ❤️

  • Just got Knitting Fresh Brioche. Usually I would think lovely and put next to my Starmore and Fassett books as knitting to dream about but never really try but y’all have given me courage to crack into the land of charts so tiny they hurt my eyes. Thanks for the shot of courage.

  • I think your hem modification is a good one. Will you do the same thing with the sleeves? Then it would be classic kimono shape, which IMHO, is timeless. Looking forward to watching this come to life.

    • Good thought! Getting my old-gal-swanning-around wardrobe ready in advance.

    • I agree, Clare, that the “classic kimono shape” is a great idea. Timeless and lovely.

  • Mary-Helen = genius retrofit!
    That oversize thing was everywhere in the 80’s though: belted-in jeans (mine probably had an extra 4or 6 inches on the waist, minimum), humongous t-shirts (they had to be massive to fit all the Frankie Says slogans on), hair was huge & eyebrows were well, bushy. The only mini-sized items were cropped tops and those dreadful 1st generation leggings with 0% lycra!

    • Gee, my leggings all had lycra in them. I must have bought all of them in dance supply shops!

  • Looking through his book patterns I am in love with all the Southwest motifs. I recently found SW yarn designer Mary Gavan’s yarn and can’t wait to start something in Canyon’s Sedona Sunset color.

    I ask again, how do you both finish so many daunting projects in record time? I am in awe and wonder if you have secret test knitters hiding in your stash!

    • I’m still on the hem! Sit back, it’s going to be a long ride.

  • Brilliant to do the hem that way. Who needs a pouf at the bottom of thier tummy? Not I.

    • Well, judging from the pictures, the pouf would be at one’s calves, but yes, I agree. The flat hem will be much more elegant.

  • That Kaffe is 100% dreamy! Kay, thanks for bringing back to my memory the pic with the ginger jar.
    I must express my admiration for your decision to make those modifications; I would be so intimidated and afraid that it would not even occur to me that I could adapt the pattern to suit my taste. This Damask Flower will certainly be unique and wonderful! (Shhh! Don’t tell Clara…)


  • Great ideas!

  • Hi Kay and Ann, I want to thank you for kicking me in the pants. When I was lucky enough to chat with the two of you recently, I was mooning over the Fair Isle sweaters on Starmore’s virtualyarns site and admitted I hadn’t done one yet. “Why not?!” you said. Why not, indeed. Just the push I needed. Will shortly be joining the monster knit-along you two seem to be having. 🙂

  • Brilliant plan, Kay. And thanks for showing us the yarn and work-in-progress – this is going to be gorgeous. (That raspberry tweed – it’s hypnotizing me!)

    • The raspberry tweed is used only in a single row at the hem and cuffs–he’s a genius.

  • I just realized I have a copy of this book, but it is called Glorious Knits. 1985, but with USA publisher. Seems to have all the same patterns.
    A friend was cleaning out her mother’s house and found it. Knew I coveted it from many years ago.
    Great friend!

    • Yes there are several versions with different covers. Lucky you!

  • For what it’s worth, I concur with your modification plans. Your sweater will be gorgeous. ????

  • Did we all hear the siren call of the acronym?
    SOPS? (SOPS Begone!)

  • You go girl.

  • Think seriously before changing the sleeves…I have a cocoon sweater I knitted many moons ago with only a whiff of a pattern and I love it in NY winters. I made the hem run all the way around the open edge and I made the sleeves with 6 inch ribbing instead of a 2 inch one. It lets me roll them back and push them up and it looks good… I love kimono sleeves to look at but for me they drag in the soup or whatever they are nearest to..I love the hem idea totally however!

  • “Did these coats not look just a little bit big at the time? Was there something wrong with people’s ability to perceive scale?”… There certainly was with mine. After buying several huge shopping bags of uncut Paternayan yarn at a yard sale for maybe $10., I made one of these coats. It was the most fun project ever. The needlepoint yarn worked out well for knitting purposes and came in a gazillion gorgeous colors, which I could combine as I wished, and the finished sweater was a masterpiece, if I do say so myself. HOWEVER, it was totally unwearable. It weighed almost more than I did (then), but even if I’d been able to trudge around in it, I am barely over 5 feet tall and looked like an exotically colorful turtle standing on its hind legs. I admired it for a few years and then sold it on ebay. I hope to someone tall and robust.

  • I remember drooling over my copy of Glorious Knits (bought in 1985-ish) and trying to decide which wonderful patterns to knit. I ended up knitting two of the waistcoats (Jack’s Back Stripe and Toothed Stripe) and adding Kaffe inspired details to many of my knits from then on.

    Our local library’s book sale is this weekend and I bought 3 classics which I have in my collection and so I bought them to give to other knitters – who need classics like these.
    “Glorious Knits”
    “Knitting Without Tears”
    “Knitter’s Almanac”
    Three like-new books for $6! Hard to beat.

  • Dr. Wittyknitter has a nice hair do as well. The modification is perfect…

  • Kaffe was super hot!!!!

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