A feast of eye-candy

Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a major fan of textile designer Kaffe Fassett.

He’s the most versatile and creative person I know of, creating paintings, mosaics, knitwear, embroidery, fabric and quilt designs, all coupled with an unerring and simply amazing sense of colour. So when I discovered he’d produced a book called Kaffe Fassett’s Bold Blooms (Abrams, New York, ISBN 978-1-4197-2236-3), I knew I had to have it. I’ve collected many of his quilting books over the years, but this one is not linked to Westminster Fibers/Rowan fabric ranges as the quilting books are, and roams freely amongst textiles of all nations, colour theory and his own development as a designer and artist, as well as many new quilt and needlepoint designs.

I don’t generally use large quantities of his fabrics in my own quilts. They’re expensive, hard to get in my part of the world, and mostly, they’re too saturated en masse for the effect I’m after. I’ve had quite a few pieces in my stash for many years, treasured, gloated over, petted and admired…. and then put away again. I don’t often make his quilt designs, preferring to execute my own designs.

The Hatbox Quilt is one notable exception, but here again, I’m not using many of his fabrics, and my colour scheme differs from his, both the original version in his book Passionate Patchwork, and the brighter, more saturated version in this new book.

What I use Kaffe’s work for is stimulus, inspiration, enrichment and for the enjoyment of beauty. Which is why I am now the proud and delighted owner of this beautiful book. It contains not only quilt designs and valuable information on colour work, but also needlepoint charts for some of his floral designs. One of these will be my next Stitch Along project, once I’ve finished the blue sampler. It’s a wonderful book, lavishly photographed, exquisitely printed and produced, and full of the most beautiful visual treats.

If you can’t buy it for yourself, get yourself to the nearest library and reserve or borrow it. It’s gorgeous…

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44 thoughts on “A feast of eye-candy

  1. anne54 says:

    Oh, what a visual feast He is a master of colour. Thanks for reminding me of him, as I am sure I will find inspiration too.

    • katechiconi says:

      The book is superlative, not just interesting, but brilliant photography and really wonderful production values and printing, something I feel qualified to comment on, having worked in design and production for many years. A really good purchase and one I’ll use a lot.

  2. magpiesue says:

    Yeah, visual feast in toxic inks (or whatever it is in those luscious hardbound books that set off my sensitivities). Color me frustrated! 😦
    I can just imagine the feast for the eyes that book must contain. At least I can enjoy your pictures of it, and any others I may stumble across on the web!

    • katechiconi says:

      Oh dear… Do click on the link over to Amazon; they have that ‘Look Inside’ thing on the book and you can see a lot of the contents – not the patterns, but the photos. If there’s something more particular let me know and I’ll see what I can do for you!

    • Lynda says:

      Hello Magpiesue. Did you know that Amazon has a free reader application that will allow you to read the digital version of this book on your computer? I checked out the sample for the digital version and it looks great! The price wasn’t so bad either at $14.27. Hope this helps you. ~ Lynda

  3. magpiesue says:

    Now that I’m done pouting – for the time being – I can say that I’m with you 100% regarding his fabrics. They’re wonderful to look at but I find them hard to use. Too much going on in each print, I think. But I saw a very simple block done up in a variety of Kaffe’s prints and the end result was yummy.

    • katechiconi says:

      I tend to go for his lighter colour schemes, the greys and lilacs and greens instead of the hot reds and pinks and purples. I also like them as a focal print or in very small quantities to brighten an otherwise muted colour scheme. I like the small scale prints too, as fillers, but they can be harder to obtain than the big splashy florals

  4. Lynda says:

    Kate, thank you for the recommendation and for the shared visual feast! I find that his work and his fabrics are stunning, but if I were to try any of them out I think I would quickly get lost in the effort. I will see if our library has this one in and peruse it if they do!

  5. tialys says:

    Ooooh – pretty picture porn.
    Interesting to see he’s put in another Hatbox Quilt – does he put the pattern in again?

    • katechiconi says:

      Yes, the pattern’s in this one too, templates and all, but as before, you have to enlarge the templates to a specified size. I don’t like this new Hatbox Quilt as much: the colours are so strong I find it visually confusing, no matter how lavish and beautiful the fabrics are…

    • tialys says:

      Also, just looking at it on Amazon and saw another one called ‘Brilliant Little Patchworks’ published earlier this year. It has some lovely projects and, in particular, a bolster made from hexies. You need 99 which is probably all I’m ever going to get round to making – never enough for a quilt – so I’m tempted.

      • katechiconi says:

        Yes, it was a toss up whether I got this one or that one. I’m not a huge cushion maker; the Husband isn’t a fan, and there’s a limit to how many I can pile up on the odd chair. But the dahlia needlepoint cushion in this book was the deciding factor, it’s just sooooo beautiful, and I can always frame it instead of making a cushion! That little hexie project sounds just the ticket for you, though…

      • tialys says:

        It’s not the cushions & pillows one – it’s different. There’s an apron, a quilt, table mats, etc.

      • katechiconi says:

        Sounds much more manageable than a whole quilt!

  6. He is the most amazing designer. And wow that version of the hat box quilt is incredible. I love his knitting designs, although (like you with his quilts) I look at them for inspiration and have never worked from any of his patterns. I must see which of his books are available from our library…

    • katechiconi says:

      I have only ever made the Hatbox blocks from his books, but all that colour and loveliness in one place makes me really happy, so I regard these books as relatively cheap and legal happy pills! I can get them out and have a dose of lovely any time I like 🙂

  7. Congratulations on getting a book to enjoy so much. My favorite books include a few I own simply for inspiration. I’ve checked out a few of his over the years and have one or two in my library. The use of color is the main draw for me. His quilts tend to be made from very simple blocks and shapes. But there is a lesson in that, I think: let the fabric do most of the work for you.

    • katechiconi says:

      I just love how he draws inspiration from things all around him to create the most sensational, exuberant colours and forms. The colours and combinations are what draw me, not the quilt designs… although, I did fall in love with the original Hatbox Quilt (which wasn’t actually made from his own fabrics!).

  8. What a gorgeous collection of designs. I love the white and purple needlepoint. Such intricate detail. I used to love needlepoint back in high school. I’m glad you treated yourself to this luscious book.

    • katechiconi says:

      Yes, that needlepoint design has really captured my heart, and I’ll be working it as soon as I’ve finished the blue and white sampler I’m doing for the SAL. It’s actually one of the reasons I bought the book! There are some other beauties, but this is my favourite.

      • It’s stunning. I’m looking forward to seeing your version, Kate.

      • katechiconi says:

        It doesn’t look too tricky; I much prefer charts in colours instead of symbols, and I’d like to have a go at creating a version in different colours – say orange and pink with a dark navy background…. sound familiar?

      • 🙂 I prefer color as well. It’s how my brain works.

      • katechiconi says:

        Same here. I got an enlarged colour copy this morning – much easier to see the stitches! Now all I have to do is find equivalent tapestry yarn, the stuff he recommends is insanely expensive here, you virtually have to hand over your firstborn!

      • Wow! I wonder why it’s so pricey? That’s no fun at all. I hope you can find what you’re looking for without “mortgaging the farm.”

      • katechiconi says:

        ALL fabric is expensive here, because it has to be imported from so far away. And if it’s a designer fabric, that commands premium prices. Fabrics that cost you guys $5 a yard costs us $11-15 a metre, and the really nice designer stuff can go up to $25 a metre. Same with the good threads, batting, etc, although we do grow our own cotton and cotton and wool battings are made in Australia. Worldwide you’ll hear the complaint that everyone except the US pays stupid prices for fabrics….

  9. rutigt says:

    I´m also a fan of Kaffe Fasset. Love his knitting patterns and his quilts. When I was cleaning my book shell last winter I realized I did have a knitting book with his patterns! Great joy!!! I had totally forgot I had it!!!! Your book looks very interesting!

  10. craftycreeky says:

    Ooh, I’m tempted! I’ve not used his prints yet but I saw a quilt the other day just using one big flowery design and it looked stunning. I heard him talk many many years ago, probably before he got into quilting as it was mainly about his knitting, a fascinating man.

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s a wonderful book, and I’m definitely going to do one of the needlepoint pieces for my next SAL project. I’ve used many of his fabrics over the years, and in fact, the current quilt has several pieces of one of his, it’s the blue and white ‘Minton china’ print which I’ve used for the snowball and bubble blocks.

    • katechiconi says:

      I have a saved file of an interview with him where he talks about colour. As you say, a fascinating man, and I can only hope to be still so creative and productive when I’m his age…

  11. I will not buy this book, I will not buy this book, I will not, maybe. It’s just beautiful and I may have to think about buying this book. 😦 I love looking at all the beautiful colors and I have the one with the hat boxes that seems to need a friend. Oh dear.

    • katechiconi says:

      I resisted as long as I could…. But in the end, I was powerless to hold off any longer. I justified it in the end by telling myself it contained needlepoint patterns I’d definitely use. I have it lying open on my work table on different pages, depending on what I’m working on, as inspiration.

  12. dweinberg415 says:

    THanks! Lots of strong color and design…I love it!

  13. […] up and running.  It’s a Kaffe Fassett design, from his recent Bold Blooms book, which I posted about earlier. I had to buy myself a new tapestry frame because nothing I had was large enough and none of the […]

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