But before I did, I needed an education of a different sort, so when I ordered my children's summer novels, I included a treat for myself: Kaffe Fassett's marvelous autobiography Dreaming in Color. I've wanted to buy this book for a couple of years, but only when I had the proper amount of time to devote to it. And I am so glad that I had a summer week and a pool to myself, because this book was so much more "glorious," to borrow a favourite adjective from Mr. Fassett, than I had anticipated.
What did I love learning about? Certainly Fassett's childhood in Big Sur, and his family's fabled restaurant Nepenthe; his years in mod London (even appearing in a scene of Blow-Up--the one where Verushka says, "I am in Paris"); his discovery of various arts, from painting to knitting to needlepoint to mosaic to quilting; his great friendships with men and women, most of whom were his creative peers.
I loved Fassett's adventurous spirit, whether for travelling, for taking chances with people, for ignoring "rules" of art, for both making patterns and for ignoring patterns. I also learned that we have a mutual friend in common.
Just today I pulled my well-loved Glorious Knits off my shelf, now knowing the back story to many of the models within as well as the photographer and the locations. And I even learned something that I'd completely forgotten: a dear girlfriend from grad school had given me this book as a gift in the 1990s, and I reread her sweet inscription.
I actually became undone a few times when reading Dreaming in Color, so inspired and excited was I to begin thinking in color again (more prosaic academic activities have been occupying me). And if I think about it, I taught myself to quilt and embroider back in the mid 1990s after completing my PhD qualifying exams. Instead of beginning my dissertation immediately, I took a quilting sabbatical and made a queen-size kaleidoscope quilt. I needed to think and feel in colour, not words and literary theory. The same thing happened, in shorter form, this summer.
But how did I become unPun? I know well how to pronounce Kaffe Fassett's name (think "Safe Asset") but thought visually instead, thinking of inviting readers to a Kaffe klatsch. I hope he would not be too annoyed.
And his author's photo in that indigo shirt? I can't help but be reminded of a younger, creative self who loves colour too. (We even appeared in the same issue of Selvedge not too long ago.)