Saturday, October 06, 2007

A Shot in the Arm

It's past ten o'clock at night and I'm at home after an exhausting, exhilarating, inspiring day. I've decided to blog about it right now; keeping my hands busy at the keyboard will prevent my giving in to a strong impulse to paint all the dining room chairs cobalt blue and butter yellow.

I can't help it. I just spent eight hours with Brandon Mably and Kaffe Fassett.

Brandon was ringmaster for a full-day workshop on color knitting. I've never seen anyone at the helm of a class so kinetic. He was everywhere in the room at once–encouraging, explaining, cajoling. We undertook a simple chart, Kaffe's well-known Persian Poppies, using a method of color selection that required us to relinquish a certain amount of control over the finished product.

That idea gave me the Creeping Shivers, but one is either a man or a mouse so I decided to throw caution to the wind and play along. After all, Brandon is famous for knowing how to mix colors, whereas my idea of Mardi Gras is three shades of gray in one sock.

I had only been working on my swatch for a couple of rows when it became obvious that with this sort of selection at hand,

Take Your Pick

I nevertheless opted to wind two balls composed entirely of the same hushed, restrained, lukewarm colors I invariably pick for every project I design myself.

Well, it became obvious to Brandon, anyhow. He took away the darker of the two balls I was using and, without so much as a by-your-leave, simply ripped out the next of the three shades of respectable brown and substituted something else. If you look very closely, perhaps you can spot the place where Brandon subtly altered my palette.

First Poppy

Yeah. Right there.

Instead of decking him like a red-blooded American male I just kept knitting, and I'll be damned if the son of a bitch didn't turn out to be right. In context, that deep rose brought the whole section to life and spared me knitting poppies that looked like, as Brandon put it, "burnt doughnuts." (If you've had enough of knitting workshops where everybody's stuff, no matter how terrible, is showered with gooey praise...sign up for Brandon. It's refreshing.)

When we broke for lunch, all the swatches went up on the board for charette and it was dazzling to see how one pattern changed in different yarns arranged by different hands.

Poppy Swatches

In the second half of the workshop I went in and made some changes to my colors, and for the first time actually enjoyed playing with colors instead of just picking one color to pair with grey and rushing out of the yarn store.

I think that in the end, the swatch showed some improvement, although as I grew more excited about the colors my chart reading went straight to hell.

Final Swatch

In the final critique, Brandon paid me the compliment of saying if he saw my swatch worked into a scarf he'd run down the street after it for a closer look.

Charette with Brandon

I considered pinning it to the seat of my pants.

Kaffe's lavishly illustrated lecture took place in the evening. I can't do it justice in a retelling. He took us through a selection of his pieces (and quite of few of Brandon's), dwelling on what inspired them and what made them tick.

I was particularly fascinated at the number of ways the guy can re-work a motif in different media. A found fabric inspires a piece of knitting, which becomes a piece of needlepoint, which turns into a tapestry, which shows up in a painted still life. Over and over. And in each case instead of the new version looking like, say, knitting pretending to be tapestry (the kind of thing I loathe), the adaptation breathes new life into the motif. Genius.

I came away with a renewed urge to create and a seismic shift in my awareness of color.

Both events were well-attended, but the day was particularly special for me. In spite of all that was happening the Star Attractions graciously sat for portraits. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Knitters 0162 and 0163 of the 1,000.

0162 and 0163

Thanks, guys.

It is a comfort to know that whatever may happen with this project, whatever I may do for the rest of my life, I have already assured myself a place in the History of Knitting as the man who got Kaffe Fassett to knit with bone white Cascade 220.

93 comments:

Meg said...

Oh Franklin ... you make me laugh so hard! I'm glad you had such a great time.

woolywoman said...

Wow!! Quite the day. Thanks for telling us about it. Clearly, my day has been less, uh, colorful, because I can't think of a comment worthy of the post.

Elizabeth said...

Yes, that is an amazing accomplishment: Kaffe Fasset knits with plain white wool! I love their portraits, too!

Sounds like a wonderful day. The great thing about you having a niece now is that you can put all sorts of wild colors together for her, because babies are made for that. It will free you up to explore color in all sorts of new ways.

Jeanne said...

Holy crap, I'm number three! OMG, you got Kaffe Fassett to pose for your 1,000, AND to knit with white Cascade 220! OMG!!! You've also inspired me to re-examine my own palette: "Step away from the eggplant. I don't care what you call it, it's still purple, and you have knit enough purple for one year!" I sez to myself. Thanks for the wee-hour update!

Jeanne said...

Or four...

Windsornot said...

As usual, the event is still told quite wonderfully. All I can say in total envy is this: Very Cool.

KnitNana said...

Wow. Bone White? Wow.
I'm stunned. And terribly impressed.
(((hugs)))

Knitting Painter Woman said...

Laughed out loud at Fassett + Bone White Cascade! He must have liked you. I'll have to look up Brandon and see if he's coming to town... and get brave with yarn colors. (I'm a dervish when it comes to paints...)

Pearls Mother said...

Wow, that was a great day.
Kaffe Fasset and white wool, I love it.

Abigail can now expect some gorgeous and interesting garments in the coming years!
Lindy

SagePixie said...

I LOVE THIS!!

What an awesome artistic outlet.

I have never been very good with colors. I was 29 before I found out I was colorblind. Crazy eh? Armed with that info I now don't give a wit what colors I put together and how they may look to the rest of the world ;-)

Nina said...

I did a 2 day workshop with Brandon in the Spring and I agree it was truely inspirational. Although i didn't repaint my chairs I did go out and choose a mixture of really bright tiles for my kitchen! I am about to start a very brightly coloured mohair scarf based on one he was knitting during workshop breaks. Thank you for the previews of those portraits.

Dutch Jan said...

Jealous? ......
Me?........
YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And now I feel really stupid that - when visiting the exhibition on KF work in the fashion muesum in Hasselt (Belgium)- I saw Kaffe sitting, saw Brandon walijgn around and I didn't had the guts to speak to them!! Stupid me!!!
But nice Pictures from them for your project

MonicaPDX said...

Cooooool!! (I love color. [g]) You go, Franklin. Don't you just love that rush when something new hits?

Love your swatch. (And the one at the very top left of the first board photo, too, whoever's it is.) Getting Brandon and Kaffe for the 1,000? Ultimate cool. Congrats, good job, now have fun going nuts! Abigail will like it too. ;)

(Hm. I seem to have regressed to my teens. My only excuse is that I got onto Ravelry a few hours ago. Explanation enough? But I saw your post there, so hey - and I'm so excited for you with your color revelations!)

Fiona said...

Priceless, Franklin! Thankyou for sharing that with us. I am extremely jealous, and I am sure that I am not alone in that - what a wonderful day!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful DAY. Loved hearing about your shift to more color and that you got Kaffe and Brandon to sit for your 1,000 knitters.

CONGRATULATIONS

Charlene

beth02116 said...

i adore #162 and 163! just working on some of 163's sock yarn! I took that class with Brandon a few years ago and he scoffed at my multi-tonal black swatch. Totally opened my eyes and I havent looked back. 2 impressive gentlemen.

Linda said...

Laughing out loud because someone you've never met had such a lovely day.... priceless.

Helen said...

Oh wow! All that and photos too! I so want to go to a Mably workshop, and to have K there as well... You must stick to your resolutions this time, though; look at al the things you said when you knitted the lime green socks, but you backslid. Knitting for the babe is the way to go.

Kenneth said...

What a great post! I'm glad you did it while the rush of the day was fresh.

Sean said...

Sigh...all of my knitting now seems to disappear into the background so banal and seems to just disappear into the background of life like come woolen camouflage.

I'm so inspired by your knitting and your story. Amazing how these workshops can open your eyes! Great job. Can't wait to see how you incorporate them into your knitting.

Carol said...

You should have had them sign your tit.

Imogen said...

What wonderful colours!

I am now tempted to hunt out every workshop near me - though, given I'm in Australia, I'm not sure Kaffe Fasset will swing by.

And such great photos as well.

So, will you knit the scarf?

Lola and Ava said...

Maybe Kaffe's next book will deal with getting in touch with our inner neutral palettes. Every once an a while, it's nice to step outside the comfort zone of our normal colors (that would be green, brown, or pink for me). Those swatches would make a fabulous scarf or blanket.

Kathleen said...

What a great day. My palette is blue and grey, though I just finished a cherry/lilac/chocolate Koigu Clapotis, so I am making an effort to embrace color. Wish I could have attended the class, but, as has been the case all summer, I was out of town when you blogged about something fun in Chicago. I only have a few more weeks until moving to NYC - any chance you'll have another 1000 Knitters photo session? Yeah, probably the weekend of the 20th when I'm out of town again. Love the swatch placement idea!

MaryB said...

Thanks again for a wonderful entry on the blog -- I love seeing knitting through your eyes -- have heard so much about Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mabley, it was inspiring to know of a student's experience first hand. The portraits are very well done. You have made them look open and friendly yet quite scholarly. And thank goodness you're using color -- I was squirming in my chair a bit when you described what you were bringing to the workshop from your stash. Mary

Anonymous said...

And yet Brandon is dressed in an ordinary t-shirt in what? olive drab? Hmmm.

Angela said...

Fantastic! Pin it to the seat of your pants, indeed! Glad it was such a great experience.

Marlena said...

I love the energy of this post! What a coup to get both of them to sit for your project, too.

RogueTess said...

I love hearing how you, someone whom I already consider quite knowledgeable about design, allowed himself to be bullied into learning wonderful new stuff. One question: what are the colors in that wonderful textured shirt he's wearing?

Nita said...

I once did an intarsia workshop and had the same (much lower level) insight and amazement about color.
It's like seeing a sunset for the first time!

And WOW, love the portraits of those 2. Just think what your simple of idea of 1000 knitters has brought about!!

Spinningfishwife said...

I have been edging back towards "Persian Poppies" for a few months now, and your post inspires me to go and have a rummage around what I mentally call the "Fassett Drawer" in the yarn chest, the one where I keep all the odd balls I felt compelled to buy because of the wonderful colours.

Looks like you had a great day. *pea green with jealousy*.....

Spinneret said...

Fassett…bone…white…cascade…220…helplessly laughing for the rest of the day. Fassett…white…ROTF… shear genius!

Janet said...

Thanks so much for sharing your day with us - you are giving me new inspiration for the "November" theme project waiting to be done for the Knitting and Stitching Show.

Anna-Liza said...

It sounds wonderful--I'm very envious without in the least begrudging you your experience! Kaffe had only recently become known in the U.S. when I started knitting. Your denouement made me laugh very loud! And the portraits are beautiful.

You know, cobalt blue and butter yellow might not be bad at all.

Gretchen said...

What a great day! I'm so happy for you. Wish I had been there-- glad you got them for the 1000 faces!

bjrest said...

Wow how awesome are those two portraits....what a great day you had!

Linda A said...

I can see the poster now: Dolores strutting daring poppy swatches
as she dares red-blooded American males to break FREE!!

Loved your reporting, your portrait coups (WOW!) and your willingness to let someone else (OK, it wasn't JUST anyone!) rip back the neutral palette and inject COLOR.

ROTF, LOL; Grateful you shared the experience.

Gwen said...

Wonderful!

It's a good thing I have a young Kid, who still wears colour. Keeps me using orange and red and yellow and, well, the whole rainbow.

danielle said...

what a HUGE compliment!!!!!!!!!!

Too many color choices on the floor there and in the baskets....I would be frozen!! Also frozen with awe...

Great photos of great men! (And hunks too!!)

Cherice said...

It sounds like you had such fun!! What a wonderful compliment both on your swatch and for knitting for your project with white cascade!

Grace Yaskovic said...

There are no words I am totally in awe of your day!! Totally in awe period

Maureen in Fargo said...

You have me laughing and crying, what a wonderful day you had! I so hope I'll somehow get to be a part of your 1000 Knitters Project...

Pin the swatch on your butt, indeed!!

Anonymous said...

You color my world.

Thanks for sharing your inspirational experience with all of us.

Donna Lee said...

You must have been glowing after that compliment. Good on you. I always reach for blues and greys but joined a sock yarn club that will force me to see beyond my choices to the rest of the palette. 2008 will be more colorful here.

Kristen said...

"I considered pinning it to the seat of my pants." Oh, I'm doubled over with laughter, which makes it a bit hard to type. Oh my! {wheeze} I'm so glad you had a wonderful time. Who wouldn't be floating on air after all the accomplishments you packed into a single day?! Go, Franklin, go!

NancyG said...

glad you got to do the workshop - I went to one many years ago in Toronto and it was an amazing experience. Kaffe gives you the confidence and the permission to do the color thing - ends be damned!

~Knitting Addict~ said...

I am so jealous! I've heard similar stories (well, not quite so wonderfully stated, but it's what they meant to day, I think) from a few other people as well.....

I am so glad you had a great time....Wish we were there too!

Anonymous said...

Ha! Kaffe! and you have it on film!

Beautiful Portraits, BTW, I can't wait to see more.

seizuresalad said...

Yay, colour!! Life affirming, it is (said in Yoda voice).

Nancy said...

I'm grinning like a fool because you're making me remember my experience last year at one of Brandon's workshops. I still have my poppies pinned up on my bulletin board.

I'd do it again in a heartbeat. It's an amazing experience.

And those are amazing portraits.

BoS said...

Right. I am now one of those annoying mainstream bloggers who tags unsuspecting bloggers with a meme thing. It's for random items, tag you're one of "it", and details are on my blog.

Yes, I suck, and No, I am not a stalker.

LaurieM said...

You slay me Franklin! I laughed so hard I woke the sleeping dog.

I think your colors went from ashes to blooming vibrancy. Awesome.

Tan said...

Not to knock Miss Violet's having had Kaffe autograph her boob, but I think your having Kaffe knit white yarn while having his photo taken is way more outrageous.

Linda said...

It sounds like lots of fun, just like your description.

proptart said...

It sounds like the best of days! And I almost spewed my coffee all over the computer when I discovered the combination of Kaffe and Cascade 220. Something about that image is going to stick with me for quite a long time!

Anne said...

Brilliant, just brilliant. Thanks so much for telling us all about it. I'd so love to be able to one of your 1000 knitters. I better start saving for an air fare to Chicago....

Mary Lynn said...

Ahhh, color, it is such a wonderful thing. You know, I take my 6 year old son to my most favorite LYS (it is a combo quilting/yarn/hooking shop) cause he has told me on more than one occasion that he "just loves this place." Once I asked him why and he said "its the colors Mom . . . they're better than a rainbow!"

I do think I will have to organize my stash and see what it is that my palette would say.

Congrats on the great photos of Brandon and Kaffe

Jen W said...

Bravo! First thought in my head was "did he ask them both to pose?? Please say he did!!" What a funny post. Great way to start a Monday.

FiberQat said...

Now the next step is to incorporate that swatch into a sweater, like a patch over your heart to indicate that while you choose plain neutrals for the most part your heart is of vibrant colors.

I just picked up Kaffe's Pattern Library (on sale at Powell's Books for thirteen bucks--go for it!). Seeing the swatches now makes me want to go stash raiding even though I have 7 WIPs on the needles.

Lorraine said...

Wow- what a coup!

Brandon is very outspoken, and knows his stuff. Your swatch may have changed your knitting life as you know it.

Denise in Kent, WA said...

What a hilarious recounting! My color sense isn't quite as somber as yours, but I do favor subtle (often monochromatic) color combinations. I'm so glad you were able to break free of your usual confines and have such a grand time doing it.

P.S. Three cheers for instructors who tell it like it is. Very refreshing indeed!

grrlmonster said...

fabulous. i envy you that you can let go like that and knit out of your color scheme. mine contains black, grays, reds and an occasional muted blue (until my children forced me to knit rainbow ponchos!)
i am so terribly awful at patterns within my knitting that i most certainly need a basic beginners workshop. im not so far from rhinebeck, youd think i could find one but my fear all ALL NEW THINGS KNITTY prevent me from even looking.
cheers to you, buddy.
you constantly inspire me and make me smile.

Deborah C. said...

It sounds like an awesome day. Burnt doughnuts, indeed! gigglesnort! I loved how your swatch turned out, though. Will you incorporate it into a scarf now?

knititch said...

knitters in america have all the fun. i was very inspired by your blog post. he is amazing kaffe. went to a show with him 20 years ago. and i lurve colour knitting more than anything, i think. because it is so interesting to see the colours play with and against each other. and mr. mably sounds pretty amazing too. glad you had a lovely day.

Fe said...

O, Franklin, how much fun you had! How wonderful! I got to meet Mr Fassett about 20 years ago. He is the only living artist to have a show at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, and I went to see the show and ran into him as he was being interviewed for BBC TV. A gracious and interesting man.

And I love the photos of the swatches side by side. That's neat!

Pamela said...

Wow.

lisat said...

that is awesome. i've been a huge fasset fan since my days as a needlepointer. you lucky, lucky guy, you.

KellyD said...

OMG OMG OMG...Brandon AND Kaffe!! How exciting. And both in the 1000 knitters project too. What a great day!

Marcela said...

Wow!How very exciting. I love your swatch and I'm glad you did not deck him.

BertandFelix said...

Franklin! I was at Kaffe's chat Saturday night too. I was soooo inspired. I think much more the next day when everything started to sink in. On Sunday afternoon, I went and bought 16 different Kaffe Fassett fabrics for a quilt. Ya, I do sew and knit.

KarenJoSeattle said...

Congratulations. The photos look great and make a noteable addition. Plus the white 220 ices the cake.

dale-harriet said...

Better you than me! I much admire all those people who fling around multiple colors and fancy designs and fair isle and Scandihoovian stuff and so on...because it ain't me. (And hey, what's wrong with Cascade 220 anyway?) I'm a very plebian knitter (but happy and enthusiastic) and all of this is the reason I AM SO LOVINGK ON YOU! And do you KNOW what your Knitters' Retrospective is going to be?

Eldronius said...

Wow, Franklin. That sounds like a wonderful day.

I am so happy (is the word "proud" appropriate considering I am a distantly removed internet reader?)about the experiences this 1,000 project has given you. And I am jealous, haha.

Thanks for sharing, and I can't wait to see the color-inspired piece of work that oozes out of you next!

Neva said...

I found your blog and I have to say...you seem like an amazing man. The knitting workshop sounds like it was wonderful and I love the pictures of the men in your blog.

Rooie said...

What a wonderful day. I am so jealous of your meeting Kaffe Fassett. I am too intimidated to try knitting one of his designs but I own a stack of his books and drool over them periodically.

Love their portraits!

alvaro said...

What a wonderfull experience. Unfortunately in Spain we do not have such workshops to be teached for such a great knitterdesings. So we have break our brains in individual search.

Roxie said...

"Burnt doughnuts?" Snarf!! (Sound of tea spraying across the room.)(Tea should be good for the sinuses, but the sugar and milk certainly aren't!) "Pin it on the seat of my pants" Well that laugh woke tha cats, I can tell you! Love your blog, Franklin. What a delight you are!

doulicia said...

I just got shivers myself (but the good kind) when I saw your photos of the dudes. I'm so happy for you.

And I like your swatch, too!

mary e said...

What a great post! I'm going to join the ranks of the others in congratulating you on your day, and also admitting that i snorted luke warm green tea all over the computer desk, again...
and is that first post from Ms. Swanson?... again! wow!

Shannon said...

Awesome. Pure, unadulterated awesome. I've taken the same classes with them and they are a delight. I wish someone somewhere would organize a great big stitching-together of all the swatches ever done in a Mably class -- can you imagine how gorgeous it would be?

Diane said...

I am by-passing some 80 comments already, so someone else may have already had the same thought:
Those knitted samples are wonderful up there together. I think they would be great if pieced together in the spirit of a quilt. Previous post with cartoon of yarn/bra--OMG, very, very funny!

Sravana said...

You made me LOL with the Kaffe + white C220, but I have to say, those are two *excellent* portraits. You have so many gifts, Franklin... it's a pleasure just knowing that someone like you graces the blogosphere.

:)

Thanks!

Amanda said...

Hi Franklin! Sorry I haven't gotten to write sooner. I had a BLAST with you on Saturday. Brandon and Kaffe were truly amazing. And your images (black and white - I love it) are beautiful!

my email johaama AT gmail DOTCOM

Liza said...

Are you going to be K-1000?

Liza the Blogless

Dr. Steph said...

Amazing. What a great experience.

And I really like your first swatch--moving from the browns to the colours is very eye-catching.

Gaile said...

oh. my. god. I am every shade of green that was ever invented. that is awesome, and yeah, I'd chase you down for that scarf too - well I'd probably chase you under any circumstances, because i'm a girl who loves futility - but dude, what an awesome day. And those photos turned out amazing. I really hope this is going to be a coffee table book!

Mrs. Lear said...

I have always wanted to go to one of their workshops - thank you for this great post and the burnt donuts!

Romi said...

Wow. What an absolutely incredible experience! I am green with envy.

Chelsea said...

Wow - what a beautiful experience. I felt like I was there with your class. It sounds like you really took a lot more away from it than you had gone in expecting. Isn't that a wonderful feeling? Great job at recounting such a fun experience. I could see the look(s) that you shot Brandon once he turned away. Too fun!

James said...

Ah Franklin it sounds like you had a lot of fun at the workshop. I've started packing my bags for a trip over to the UK to attend a two day workshop with Kaffe in early November at the Rowan mill in Holmfirth. that will be followed my a mad dash across to the States on the return trip back to New Zealand. The yarn fever is rising!

Red said...

Oct 22, 2007

Just saw BM and KF in Atlanta. It was a quilting event but KF's talk was about color and he had slides of his knitting, mosaics, quilts, needlepoint, everything.

When I got there the first person I saw was BM and I just went up to him and introduced myself (like he had any idea who I was). I mentioned that I read your post about the knitting workshop you did with him and how it just opened your eyes to color.

He didn't quite remember who you were, but when I mentioned Chicago and the 1000 knitters photo project, he remembered. He said that he doesn't always know how effective he's been, so it's nice to hear this kind of feedback.

I think this was also a freaky example of the power of blogging.

I told him that your blog post made me want to take his workshop, if he ever comes back to Atlanta. So I thought I'd pass that thought on to you too.

P.S. The Dalai Lama was in Atlanta this weekend too, but didn't go see him. Although the saffron and burgundy robes are pretty colorful too.

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