Kaffe's Biography - A Colourful Life

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Kaffe Fassett was born in San Francisco in 1937. When he was 19, Kaffe won a scholarship to the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston, but left after 3 months to paint in London. He settled in England in 1964.

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Kaffe ventured into the world of colourful yarn on a visit to a Scottish wool mill with fashion designer Bill Gibb. Inspired by the colours in the landscape, Kaffe was thrilled to find the same colours in yarns. He bought 20 colours of Shetland wool and some knitting needles, and on the train back to London a fellow passenger taught him how to knit. His first design appeared as a full page spread in Vogue Knitting magazine.

Missoni and Bill Gibb commissioned Kaffe's early commercial collections, and his one-of-a-kind designs have been collected by Barbra Streisand, Lauren Bacall, John Schlesinger, Ali McGraw, Irene Worth, Shirley Maclaine, Helen Frankenthaler, Alan Bergman and H.R.H. Princess Michael of Kent.

In 1985, Kaffe launched a needlepoint project on the TV programme 'Pebble Mill at One', inviting anyone across the country to needlepoint an image of their favourite thing, no bigger that 6 inches square. Over 2,600 entries were sent forming the Pebble Mill at One Heritage Tapestry which was on show at Chatsworth House until it moved to Harewood House. The same year, the British Crafts Council invited Kaffe to present a BBC daytime television series interviewing leading UK crafts people. Since then Kaffe has inspired thousands of traditional one-colour knitters to employ rich palettes of colour through his 6 part television series, 'Glorious Colour' for Channel 4. The series was aired in 1986 has been repeated 3 times and was released as a two-part video. It has been shown in various countries including Japan and Canada. In 1998, Kaffe released 'Kaffe's Colour Quest', a video looking at colour and design inspiration through his world-wide travels. In February 1999, Kaffe presented a 6 part series for Radio 4 called 'A Stitch in Time'.

Kaffe has also been interviewed countless times on national television and radio programmes such as 'Richard and Judy' for 'This Morning'; 'The Bazaar' TV series; 'Chelsea Flower Show Live'; 'Collectors Lot'; 'The Homes Show' and 'Through the Keyhole.' For radio: Radio 4's 'Woman's Hour' and 'Desert Island Discs' with Sue Lawley.

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In 1988 Kaffe became the first living textile artists to have a one man show at the Victoria & Albert Museum. The exhibition attracted such crowds that the Museum doubled attendance figures during the run and has since visited Finland, Holland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, Canada, USA and Iceland (where 5% of the total population attended.) Recent exhibitions of textiles include the American Museum in Bath (UK), Sweden, Denmark, America and Japan. The Hankyu Department Store, Osaka, Japan invited Kaffe to create 3 room sets in their store, for a British fair, sponsored by the British Council. Over 30,000 people visited the display in 6 days. In June 1998, Kaffe displayed his quilts from his 8th book, 'Patchwork' at the Japan World Quilt Fair in Tokyo.

Kaffe's first needlepoint design was commissioned by Pamela Lady Harlech for Lord Harlech. Since then, commissions include; two 5-foot square needlepoint tapestry designs for the 1994 Marks & Spencer department stores Christmas packaging; tufted rug designs for Christopher Farr Hand Made Rugs; two 5-foot square needlepoint tapestries for the Sea Princess cruise liner; a needlepoint tapestry for an Elizabethan house in Yorkshire; a series of five tapestries and a tufted rug for The Edinburgh Tapestry Weaving Company; a 13' by 15' mosaic mural at the entrance to a theatre in Ojai, California; needlepoint arm chairs for clients around the world and an endless list of one-of-a-kind design garments.

Since 1981, Kaffe has worked closely with Rowan Yarns in Yorkshire. Rowan Yarns insight into fashion and colour complement Kaffe's skill and together they have produced ambitious designer patterns to inspire hand knitters all over the world. He contributes to the bi-annual Rowan magazine, which is marketed world-wide.

Since 1976 Kaffe has been the leading designer of needlepoint kits for Ehrman Tapestries of London, one of the most successful mail order needlepoint companies world-wide.

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The international charity Oxfam asked Kaffe to work with poverty-stricken weaving villages in India and Guatemala, to advise on designs that would be more marketable in the West. As a result, a range of colourful hand woven fabrics is being produced for use as shirt fabric, bed throws and patchwork fabric, available on an international basis through Rowan UK and Westminster Fibers, USA. Other charity work has also taken him to South Africa.

A large part of Kaffe's output is now an expanding range of fabric prints for the patchwork market along with the Indian stripes fabric and shot cotton fabric range distributed world wide by Westminster Fibers, USA and Rowan, UK.

Hilliers Garden Centres invited Kaffe to design their garden for the 1998 Chelsea Flower Show. The garden featured his mosaic columns, planters and a shell grotto and won a Gold Medal and was written up as 'The trend-setting garden of the year's show'.

Kaffe gives slide talks and workshops on colour in design which take him all over the world, allowing him to see how people use his fabrics and pick up inspiration.

1999 saw the release of two new books, Kaffe Fassett & Candace Bahouth 'Mosaics' and 'Welcome Home, Kaffe Fassett', part of Martingale USA publishers At Home series.

In 1993 the UK based Northern Ballet Theatre asked Kaffe to design costumes and sets followed by The Royal Shakespeare Company commissioning Kaffe to co – design the set and costumes for 'As You Like It'. Kaffe reveled in the Elizabethan period and used knitting, needlepoint, rag rugging and patchwork in the costumes. It was directed by Gregory Doran and opened in 2000, one of the most exciting commissions Kaffe has received to date.

Since the Millennium major exhibitions have included 'The Textile Tradition, Then and Now' (2001) and Quilt Bonanza (2003) both at The American Museum in Bath, plus shows at Stening Slott, in Sweden (2004) and Rohsska Museet, in Gothenburg (2004).

2005 saw a variety of exciting commissions, projects and publications. Exhibiting quilts at the Textile Museum of Canada, involvement at the Yokohama Patchwork Festival in Japan and Kaffe's contribution to two group shows, 'The Artist and Radio 4' at the Bankside Gallery and a painting exhibition at the Catto Gallery, London saw the year end with a prestigious invitation to design and decorate the Victoria and Albert Museum Christmas tree in collaboration with Kaffe's latest book publication 'Kaffe Fassett's V&A Quilt's'.

Kaffe's one man multimedia show in 2006 at the Prince Eugen's Waldemarsudde, Sweden was followed by an exhibition of Kaffe's quilts, knitting and needlepoint at the Modemuseum Hasselt, Belgium and 2007 continues with Kaffe embarking on a workshop tour of Australia and New Zealand and the launch of his knit book 'Kaffe Knits Again' published by Rowan.

In 2013, Kaffe was awarded the Turner Medal. This is awarded by the Colour Group (Great Britain) to a distinguished artist or art historian, honoring Britain's greatest colourist.

Kaffe has just finished his 5th hardcover book on patchwork and is working on his 15th annual book for Rowan and has been designing quilting fabric for Rowan for 15 years.

Kaffe teaches quiltmakers all over the world to learn to work with color in an instinctive way, his unique sense of colour and drive to create, combined with his desire to encourage others, has led to his reputation as a guru in the world of colour and textiles.

 


Publications at a glance
click each book thumbnail or title below to go to the book's individual entry on Kaffe's book page


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Kaffe Fassett's Quilts in Morocco
20 designs from Rowan for patchwork and quilting, Book Number 16
Rowan 2014



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Kaffe Fassett Quilt Grandeur
20 designs from Rowan for patchwork and quilting, Book Number 15
Rowan 2013 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window / UK This link opens in a new window



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Kaffe Fassett Quilts Shots and Stripes
24 New Projects Made with Shot Cottons and Striped Fabrics
Stuart Tabori & Chang 2013 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Kaffe Quilts Again
20 Designs from Rowan for Patchwork and Quilting, Book Number 14
Rowan 2012 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Kaffe Fassett Dreaming in Color
Stewart, Tabori and Chang 2012 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window


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Knitting with the Color Guys, Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably
Sixth and Spring 2012 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window


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Kaffe Fassett's Quilts in Sweden
20 Designs from Rowan for Patchwork and Quilting, Book Number 13
Rowan 2011 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Kaffe Fassett's Quilts en Provence
20 Designs from Rowan for Patchwork and Quilting, Book Number 12
Rowan 2010 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Kaffe Fassett's Simple Shapes Spectacular Quilts
23 Original Quilt Designs
Stewart, Tabori and Chang Inc 2010 - Amazon UK This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Kaffe Fassett's Quilt Romance
20 Designs from Rowan for Patchwork and Quilting, Book Number 11
Rowan, Oct 2009 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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The Prayer Shawl Companion
38 Knitted Designs to embrace, inspire and celebrate life
Janet Bristow and Victoria A. Cole-Galo, Taunton 2008 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Kaffe Fassett's Country Garden Quilts
Twenty Designs from Rowan for Patchwork and Quilting, Book Number 10
Rowan 2008 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Kaffe Knits Again
Twenty Four updated original Rowan Designs by Kaffe Fassett
Rowan 2007 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Kaffe Fassett's Quilts in the Sun
Twenty Designs from Rowan for Patchwork and Quilting, Book Number 9
Rowan 2007 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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The Best of Vogue Knitting Magazine
Twenty Five years of Articles, Techniques and Expert Advice
Sixth & Spring Books 2007
Featuring work by Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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The New Country Style, England
Inspiration for Modern Living
Ingrid Rasmussen and Chloe Grimshaw
Thames and Hudson 2006
Featuring Kaffe Fassett's and Brandon Mably's Seaside House - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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At Home With Pattern
Sally Conran, Katherine Sorrell
Photography by Claire Richardson
Ryland Peters and Small 2006
Featuring Kaffe Fassett's and Brandon Mably's Seaside House - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Sticka Med Kaffe Fassett (Swedish)
Natur Och Kultur 2006


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Kaffe Fassett's Kaleidoscope of Quilts
Twenty Designs from Rowan for Patchwork and Quilting, Book Number 8
Rowan 2006 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Kaffe Fassett's V&A Quilts
23 Beautiful Patchworks Inspired by the Victoria and Albert Museum
Ebury Press 2005 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Kaffe Fassett's Museum Quilts
Designs Inspired by the V&A Museum with Liza Prior Lucy
Taunton 2005 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Kaffe Fassett's Quilt Road
Twenty Designs from Rowan for Patchwork and Quilting, Book Number 7
Rowan 2005 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Kaffe Fassett's Caravan of Quilts
Twenty Designs from Rowan for Patchwork and Quilting, Book Number 6
Rowan 2004 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window


kaffe-studio-400px.jpgOne of Kaffe's studio spaces

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Kaffe Fassett's A Colourful Journey
Over Twenty Designs from Rowan for Patchwork and Quilting, Book Number 5
Rowan 2003 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Rowan Patchwork and Quilting
Rowan 2002, Book Number 4 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ USA This link opens in a new window


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Rowan Patchwork and Quilting
Twenty Seven Projects, Book Number 3
Rowan 2001 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Kaffe Fassett's Pattern Library
Over 190 Original Knitting Motifs
Ebury Press 2001 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Passionate Patchwork
Kaffe Fassett with Liza Prior Lucy
Over Twenty Original Designs
Ebury Press 2001 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Rowan Patchwork and Quilting
Twenty Projects by Kaffe Fassett, Book Number 2
Rowan 2000 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Rowan Patchwork and Quilting
Thirteen Designs by Kaffe Fassett, Book Number 1
Rowan 1999 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Mosaics by Kaffe Fassett and Candace Bahouth
Ebury Press 1999 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window


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Welcome Home By Kaffe Fassett
Martingale USA Publishers 1999 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window


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Kaffe Fassett Patchwork with Liza Prior Lucy
Over 25 Glorious Quilt Designs
Ebury Press 1997 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Glorious Inspiration
Kaffe Fassett's Needlepoint Source Book
Ebury Press 1997 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Kaffe Fassett Glorious Interiors
Needlepoint, knitting and decorative design projects for your home
Ebury Press 1995 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Kaffe's Classics
25 Glorious Knitting Designs
Taunton 1993 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window



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Kaffe Fassett's Glorious Colour for Needlepoint and Knitting
Sterling 1993 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window


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Knitting for Children and Adults
Ebury Press 1989 - Amazon UK This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window


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Kaffe Fassett's Glorious Needlepoint
Ebury Press 1987 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window


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Kaffe Fassett's Glorious Knitting
Over 30 Exclusive Patterns
Ebury Press 1985 - Amazon USA This link opens in a new window/ UK This link opens in a new window


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