I come from a long line of sign writers and am happiest with a brush and some paint! Add
paint to fabric and I get really excited!!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Kaffe Fassett, We Meet Again!

In 1975 my sister Joanne, of Madaboutcolour fame and I boarded a plane with backpacks and dreams and found ourselves in England. Being maybe a little bit hippie and a lot dedicated to handcrafts, we focused our adventure on design, museums, live theatre, buying up wonderful items like Birkenstocks for 25.00!!(me) and corduroy jumpers and skirts at Selfridges (Jo). We spent a full week going to the Victoria and Albert Museum where time stood still for us to sketch (Jo), wander and soak it all in (me). We stayed in hostels, cheap rooming houses, B&B’s, and gathered stories as we experienced life on the road. We saw sooo many theatrical performances! Chorus Line, Agatha Christie’s The Mouse Trap, Swan Lake (for perhaps the 10th time....growing up on PEI with the Confederation Centre and its focus on live entertainment meant we had the opportunity to see lots of ballets), and Jesus Christ Superstar to name the most memorable.

We also visited a small shop in downtown London to see an interesting display of knitted items. I remember there weren’t an overwhelming number of pieces, but each piece there demanded your attention. Machine knitting was something I was just vaguely aware of and fashion design in these days before the immediacy of the internet, was something you saw in magazines. Joanne, being very smitten with the work we saw, bought a beautiful hand knit vest, it being the one article she convinced herself she could afford. We chatted with the proprietors/artists, no doubt gushing over the amazing designs..

I am not really sure when the pieces all began to fall into place, but on July 18th, in a little church in Amherst, Nova Scotia, Joanne stood up and showed Kaffe Fassett one of his earliest knitted vests, designed by his then partner, Bill Gibb. And the circle grew even tighter; she also presented Kaffe with a photocopy of her Scottish born husband and Bill Gibb in a class photo taken when they were both youngsters, attending the same school, sharing a desk. Kaffe very graciously accepted the photo and seemed pleased and intrigued to see a piece of his early work. He listened as Joanne explained that Bill and her husband had been close school friends and had spent hours preforming plays Bill made costumes for.

After Kaffe’s talk, he patiently chatted and signed books for attendees. He signed several books of Jo’s extensive collection of Kaffe books and again thanked her so kindly for her thoughtful gift. I remarked that he didn’t look a day older than the first time we spoke, way back in 1975 in that little showroom  on Bond Street..


  1. That's a wonderful story, Jennifer! It sounds like you've had some great experiences too. How fun for both you and your sister to make that connection.
    I'm sorry I missed him.

  2. That was your sister! and you were there too! I was there too. Darn. Would have been great to see you. Awesome story.

  3. Jennifer Scantlebury VienneauAugust 3, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    It is too bad you missed hearing Kaffe speak, Holly. It was a great experience, but I suspect the real experience was in taking one of his and Brandon’s classes the days after. They, of course, were full as soon as registration opened. Still, it was fun for Jo and I to meet Kaffe again after so many years.

  4. Jennifer Scantlebury VienneauAugust 3, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    That is too bad, Linda!! I never thought of anyone being there from Halifax since he spoke there as well..The room was full of Islanders and I met several people who had come all the way from Ontario just to take his class! I am sorry we missed each other; hopefully we can meet up when you are in town for the wedding...or, if we miss there, perhaps at the Fibre Fest in October??

  5. Jennifer Scantlebury VienneauAugust 3, 2014 at 11:35 AM

    It is a very small world, my friend! I think Kaffe was rather pleased to see his early work, but I think he downplayed the whole Bill Gibb connection because Brandon seemed less than enthusiastic about it. He also seemed very protective of Kaffe’s time and energy after the talk and was trying to subtly hustle him out the door. Anyway, I am sure we were a reminder of his early days and hopefully they were good memories.