Born in San Francisco, Kaffe studied painting at the Museum of Fine Art in Boston USA. Kaffe left the United States after just 3 months at art school and travelled to London in order to paint. He settled there in 1964.
Kaffe became interested in the world of fashion and during a trip to a Scottish wool mill Kaffe began to be inspired by yarn as an art medium. Inspired by the colours in the landscape he was thrilled to find the same colours in yarns and so he bought 20 colours of the Shetland wool and some knitting needles. And – as the legend goes – was taught to knit by a fellow passenger on the train home to London.
Kaffe’s first design appeared as a full page spread in Vogue Knitting magazine. Kaffe found himself in demand and his one off designs have been collected by Lauren Bacall, Barbara Steisand and Shirley Maclaine to name but a few.
Kaffe began to give lectures and it was after one such event that he was approached by Stephen Sheard who asked him to produce some kits for Rowan Yarns. He was so inspired by the beautiful yarns and vibrant colours being produced by Rowan Weavers that he agreed to get involved. In 1983 the first Kaffe Fassett knit kit range – packaged in luxury boxes was launched and sold through wool shops and department stores.
Throughout Kaffe’s shifts in his own inspiration – be it painting, needlepoint or patchwork - he has continued to contribute his knit designs to Rowan. His older designs such as ‘foolish virgins’ and ‘red diamonds’ have become iconic knitted pieces of the century, whilst newer continue to show his trademark use of colour and surface pattern.
Kaffe’s current passion and idea of heaven is creating cloth for patchwork, yet he continues to lecture and tutor knitting workshops. His excitement for all his chosen crafts shines through and his company is exhilarating and exciting for knitters and non knitters alike. Kaffe says “being the dinosaur of patchwork and knitting guarantees that people will come and listen to me”.