Kaffe Fassett Retrospective at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum




A major highlight of my spring London sojourn was visiting the Fashion and Textile Museum, Bermondsey Street, near London Bridge station.

Their featured exhibition was a heart-stopping retrospective of Kaffe Fassett’s incredibly versatile body of work, from his early needlepoint designs, through his prolific body of knitted work, and on to his current ‘quilt phase’.





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Let me know if you would like a custom-designed itinerary for your London Textile Sojourn! And, I will be leading several 3-day London Fiber Tours in 2014 – subscribe to our mailing list, and watch this space!


Rosie the Riveter – back in Style!

What is this thing for?

What is this thing for?


Seeing this photo of my niece on a New York street, I pondered the retro fashion revival that’s been spurred on by Bomb Girls and other period dramas like Call the Midwife, starring feisty young women forging the path toward modern feminism. Go girls!

It’s encouraging to see strong women emerging again to champion the young and help them gain the confidence needed to grow into leadership roles. Sheryl Sandberg and her Lean In Foundation may prove to be the most valuable and lasting legacy of the Facebook era.

[Stepping down from soapbox.]

As the weather cools, I’m in search of small projects that will move my lace knitting status from ‘totally boggled’ to ‘clumsily competent’. On trusty Ravelry, I find the Rosie Headband by Jane Richmond and decide to try producing a slightly warmer version for our unpredictable New England Indian Summer weather.


boreale350Wanting a hip, 21st Century look, I go to my WEBS-is-crack stash, choose St. Denis Boreale fingering-weight wool in azalea (neon pink), double it and cast on with an Addi Turbo U.S. 7 circ.

Then pray. Simultaneously try to watch the newest ‘Foyle’s War’, but am foiled by a labyrinth of double yarnovers. Ask myself: as a native crocheter, why does my forehead become damp and my hands clammy when faced with ‘just a bit of knitted lace’? After several frog-backs, I get it! It’s actually fun, and wow, it’s done in two 4-hour bursts of inspired yarnovering. It’s lovely – I’m kind of proud.


Voila! Hope she likes it.



File under: Things I’m glad I knit, but could have crocheted in about 12 minutes.


Yarnbombing: Art or Waste?

Yarnbombing: Art or Waste?

Spider-web Trellis Textile Travel

Crocheted spider-web serves a dual purpose: screening an unsightly staircase and trellising a rose bush.

It’s been called ‘artistic vandalism’ and a waste of good fiber, but controversial or not, the covering of trees, statues and other public artifacts with crocheted or knit yarn, known as Yarnbombing, is continuing to intrigue both artists and amateurs around the world.

Thought to have originated with Texas-based fiber artist Magda Seyeg, street name KnittaPlease, yarnbombing has become a fuzzy phenomenon on a global scale. Though Knitta has gone commercial, (dressing a Prius in a sweater), yarnbombing has found its ideal niche in the drab industrial landscapes of cities like Detroit, Glasgow and Liverpool.

Philosophical objections have been raised that yarnbombing is a waste of material that will knowingly be transformed into something damp, moldy and stretched out.  Should yarn that could make warm clothing be used to create amateurish street art?  Those who don’t appreciate traditional graffiti would say its use of spray paint is wasteful too, whereas those who consider it an art form say the spray materials are artists’ tools.  And should a painter’s oils be diverted to paint Habitat houses instead?

Read more:

Twilight Taggers – Yarnbombing how-to

Yarnbombing – the book

Joana Vasconcelos


Crocheted spider web by Kathleen Lyons

5 Success Strategies for Traveling with Babies and Children

5 Success Strategies for Traveling with Babies and Children

We made it! Disney World – check!

A family vacation takes everyone out of their usual routine and into the world of adventure. It can create some of life’s most cherished memories if enough thought goes into the preparation. In the months and weeks before the trip, parents’ emotions can run the gamut: busily excited—> stressed out—> panicky. For formerly-carefree new parents, particularly if airports are involved, the once-straightforward tasks of booking, packing and boarding suddenly require the precision of a military mobilization.

We’ve polled our Textile Travel clients who are avid travelers as well as parents, and have done some digging of our own into the world of travel gear for babies and kids. OMG, the crazy advice and useless products available are comparable to the silliness sold to innocent homebound Mommies and Daddies – arrgh!

However, some of the books, accessories and travel toys we reviewed make sense; here’s a roundup of 5 essential Success Strategies for prepping the kiddies for a travel adventure:

1. Anticipation

Elmo Passport Holder

Baby Elmo Passport holder is cute and practical.

It’s estimated that 50% of the satisfaction families derive from travel comes from anticipating the upcoming trip and building a ‘must see/must do’ list. Kids will pick up on the excitement in the air when Mom and Dad gather the guidebooks, phone their travel agent and start trolling websites for background info.

Depending on your child’s age and travel experience, it’s a good idea to involve them as much as possible in travel planning. The Disney World Hannukah trip you spring on them as a surprise can prove overwhelming if kids don’t have enough time to assimilate the fact that they’re going. They might have a happier trip if they can mull over their options before you head to your destination.

Get the excitement started early by establishing a ‘travel central’ spot in your home. It can be a box or large suitcase for family members to add prospective travel gear: favorite toys, lucky hats, brochures – whatever. Gift your child with a cute document holder like the Baby Elmo passport pouch. Your little guy can use it collect theme park cards, coupons and other documentary stuff, or you can actually store his passport and other essential records in it. Of course these are also available with Mouse branding.


2. Familiarization

Prepare your child for their first flight! Photo: Amazon.com

For kids who haven’t flown before, there are many excellent books about airports and flying that can allay their inevitable anxiety.

Some parents have found it helpful to visit the airport a few weeks before travel to let their child experience the bustle of the terminal and watch some planes taking off and landing. This can work if you live close to the airport and can spare the time. If not, bear in mind that the airport scene, the plane’s strange interior, and the sensations of flying are new to your child, and can be both exhilarating and scary. Lots of reassurance will be needed on arrival and throughout the flight experience. Emphasis on the novelty and fun of flying will help calm both the kids and yourselves.


3. Duplication

Once the realization hits that on travel, your baby’s needs will be pretty much the same as they are at home, you’ll start casting about for ways to cope. The cloth diapers and bibs, custom-designed food bowl and monogrammed potty will probably make way for disposables, just for sanity’s sake. You’ll search out lightweight blankets, kid travel pillows and a car seat that converts to a stroller and can whistle a lullaby (haven’t found that yet).

Welcome to the world of doll luggage and portable potty chairs. We’ve created a collection of maybe-baby items for our parent travelers; you are welcome to browse through it.

Items such as this “On-the-Go” bottle warmer can be handy: it uses a heat cell to warm a bottle or some baby food, without batteries or plugs. One downside: the gadget needs to be boiled in water to re-activate; good for the start of a trip or if you’ve booked an apartment or villa rental.


4. Speculation

Families planning a trip generally spend considerable hours researching their destination(s), planning an itinerary and booking event tickets and restaurant reservations, preferably with the help of a knowledgeable travel agent. (Unbeknownst to many, using the services of an experienced travel agent usually results in a more serene travel experience for a lower total cost).

One important point an agent will bring up is contingency planning, especially if you’re traveling with kids. Both first aid skills and insurance for possible emergencies are essential components of smart travel planning. What could happen? Ask the folks on the overturned cruise ship or those caught in the Iceland volcano drama….not to deter you from traveling, but the real world requires real strategies and forethought.


5. Fortification

Two words: Toys, Food.

Toys means make sure they’re packed for EACH & EVERY family member: from Mom’s needlework bag (hoping the country you’re traveling to is cool about knitting needles), to Dad’s GPS, the teens’ iPads and iPods, the little kids’ Travel PlayDough, to the baby’s headphones.

Food means pack the squeezable peanut butter – it’s just logic. She’s not going to eat fois gras or periwinkles if she won’t do it at home. As much as you’d like adventurous eating to be part of the foreign-travel experience, unrealistic expectations will make everyone miserable. Think of adventurous eating as testing out 10 different types of Japanese candy.

Breastfeeding Mom + Pashmina or handmade shawl = the ultimate portable travel food source. But for everyone else, it’s a good idea to pack familiar snacks in the lunchbox-sized packets, to bring a taste of home on the road.

Enjoy your kids while they’re young, bring the baby on the Provence wine trip – you won’t regret it. Just prepare intelligently, savor each day and fill many memory cards with photos the grandparents will cherish.

What’s your favorite travel strategy that’s been a success for your family? Comments are welcome—

See our Baby & Child Travel Resource page for more ideas.

Kaffe Fassett’s long-awaited autobiography is here!

Kaffe Fassett’s long-awaited autobiography is here!

Kaffe Fassett Autobiography

Textile guru Kaffe Fassett’s new book: Dreaming in Color: An Autobiography is now available- congratulations!

Follow this brilliant designer from his California boyhood and early exposure to a world of art and creativity, to his present home in London where his color and design genius reached its current height.

Kaffe Fassett has designed in many fiber media, notably knitwear (as principal designer for Rowan) and quilt work (also for Rowan). He is the first living textile artist to mount a one-person show at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Author of over 15 books, he has countless patterns, textile articles, lectures and appearances to his credit.
Buy the book here.




Kaffe Fassett’s Website