In early 2002, I received a large manila envelope in the mail from an address in Friday Harbor, Washington. It contained a booklet I’d ordered for my fledgling online knitting magazine, Knitter’s Review. The booklet had a glossy cover and an enticing title: Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles: A Manual of Elegant Knitting Techniques and Patterns. The book was written by a woman named Cat Bordi—the “h” would come later.
At a time when self-publishing in the knitting world meant black-and-white photocopies with clumsy plastic Wire-O bindings, I was taken by her 44 pages of elegant text, crisp layout, and clear photos. The patterns were lovely, but it was her voice that won me over—a reassuring, playful tone reminiscent of Elizabeth Zimmermann. She’d interrupt herself mid-toe to suggest you make yourself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch (“they’re cheap, and you’re investing in needles, right?”). Mid-heel flap, she’d congratulate you on cutting a weavable tail, “even before I reminded you, because you are so smart.”
In 2002, much of the Internet was still in its infancy. Knitters were heavy early adopters, being far-flung and eager for a point of convergence.
The democratic nature of the Internet made it possible for someone like Cat to sidestep the entire knitting publishing machine—which was small, highly controlled, and nearly impossible to penetrate—and bring her message, in her own words, directly to knitters.
I reviewed her book and Socks Soar promptly, well, soared all the way to number 64 on Amazon—and I mean on all of Amazon, above John Grisham. My newsletter had about 10,000 subscribers at that time, and they were famished for the likes of what Cat was offering. Here was a fresh new voice telling us we could actually knit socks not on those fiddly sticks but with the streamlined elegance of a circular needle. It had the same effect on sock knitters as the commercial bread slicer did on the baking industry.
Cat was thrilled but mystified as to the source of her newfound success. Her brother did some sleuthing and found my review. She wrote me an email, and we became lifelong friends.
Cat was first and foremost a teacher.
An explainer of things. As soon as she figured something out, she needed to teach it to others. So naturally, having worked out a clever way to knit socks on two circular needles, she had to spread the news far and wide. What better way than to write a book.
Not long after Socks Soar, as she tells it, she jumped out of bed one night and realized exactly how you could cast on for a knitted Mobius strip. This was her next passion, which she explored in two perfect-bound, full-color books, A Treasury of Magical Knitting and A Second Treasury of Magical Knitting. (She found it hard to stop at just one of anything.)
When Cat returned to socks for her New Pathways for Sock Knitters (book one) and Personal Footprints for Insouciant Knitters (book two, again, why stop at one), she created entirely new ways to knit socks. Until then, they had been knit from the top down or the toe up. So Cat had to see what would happen if you started your sock from other points, like the bottom of the foot. Just to prove it could be done. It could, beautifully.
As fiercely independent as she was about her books, she was happy to surrender to others when it came to getting a ride or a place to stay. Such minutiae just slowed her down. When I expressed concern, she’d look at me with those clear, sincere eyes, and say some version of, “I don’t have to worry, because everything always works out.”
And it did.
She had this magical ability to speak things into existence.
Cat had parlayed her self-publishing success into a fulltime career as a knitwear designer, author, and teacher—earning more than she had as a public school teacher. Excepting perhaps Elizabeth Zimmermann, such independent economic success was unthinkable.
Cat worked hard, spending months at a time on the road, traveling from shop to festival, back to shop, to retreat, to another festival. At one point, she was fully booked three years in advance. But she loved this new world.
She broke the mold of what was professionally and economically possible in knitting, setting the stage for the independent knitwear design world we have now.
Having solved the puzzle of how to successfully self-publish a book, she needed to teach others how to do it too. She created a Visionary Retreat. Over the years, it fostered a steady stream of voices including Chrissy Gardiner, Janel Laidman, Nancy Marchand, Chris de Longpré, Margaret Fisher, Sandra McIver, Carson Demers, Janine Bajus, and JC Briar.
I marveled at how comfortably she gave away all her secrets—her pricing formulas, her printer, even her graphic designer. She did the same with most of the ideas she hatched, always happy to let someone else do the heavy lifting of bringing it to fruition. She had no fear of being copied or scooped by someone else because she knew more ideas would always come. And they always did.
Whenever we happened to be teaching or attending an event together, which was the case for more than a decade, I got to witness Cat’s magic in person. And that was fun.
She could enchant total strangers in seconds. I’d turn my back and she’d be swapping spoons with a random man in line at Jeni’s Ice Cream in Columbus. Or convincing a woman at the next table that she simply had to try the mango pudding. When that woman tried to pivot the conversation to a Mary Kay Cosmetics sales pitch, Cat magically boomeranged the entire interaction to the point where the woman not only had a bowl of mango pudding on her table before we left, but she’d also written down the names of all the knitting books she should buy.
And then there were the hotel rooms. Without fail, I’d find myself in a closet overlooking an air shaft or a dumpster or some other creepy mob hit site. Meanwhile, Cat—the person least interested in luxury or prestige—would be handed the keys to a penthouse suite. “It’s so huge!” she’d say when I’d ask about her room. “I have a jacuzzi! And a balcony! You’ll have to come up and see it!” When I’d press her about how she got the room, she’d say some version of, “I don’t know, I just asked for a quiet room and they gave this to me.”
That was life with Cat.
To the hardened or cynical heart, it was easy to raise an eyebrow at Cat’s childish wonder and exuberance. But over time, you’d realize that it was far more fun to surrender to her orbit. Any time spent with Cat was an adventure. An escapade. A caper.
During the first Sock Summit—another grand idea whose inception Cat had been in on—she discovered that she and Lucy Neatby were wearing the same size shoes but in different colors. Naturally, they swapped, and for years Cat and Lucy explored the world with one blue shoe and one green one.
Cat eschewed authority of any kind. Her GPS, nicknamed Persnickety Mapsalot, was constantly forced to recalculate its course. “Twice today after I incited her to school-marm me,” Cat wrote me once, “she waited a moment and then added with false cheeriness, ‘There is a better alternative route,’ and then ignored me. As if she knows a better route! Hah! If she thinks I will fall for that, she has a lot to learn. I think we need a therapist.”
Cat likewise challenged those around her to consider recalculating their courses. She willingly served as a guide and mentor to all who needed it, which may explain why so many were drawn to her. She had an uncanny ability to see deep into your soul and speak to your highest self. It could just be the words, “You’re ready,” or “Are you sure?” But nine times out of ten, they’d be exactly what you needed to hear.
Hers was a deep and infectious spirituality that defied labels.
Her Island Knitting Retreats kept filling with loyal attendees, year after year, even as new knitting waves crested. If she noticed the changing times, she wasn’t at all bothered by it. Knitting had become the framework through which she did deeper work. Her gatherings had become spiritual retreats.
Although she had long since given up her storage unit full of books to host her retreats and lead global escapades, Cat still found time to publish new work digitally. There was her Sweet Tomato Heel Socks, her collection of fingerless mitts, her Versatildes and Felfs (Cat so loved wordplay), and, just weeks before her death, she released a collection of patterns called MoMo Cowls.
Cat’s life—like any good cat, come to think of it—had multiple incarnations that not everyone knew about. Open up your copy of Eckhard Tolle’s The Power of Now and you’ll find him thanking her for her support of the work in its early stages. While a single mother with a baby at home, she carved out a profitable niche making teddy bears, each of which was named and numbered and came with a handwritten origin story. (Google “Catherine Bordi bears” and prepare to be amazed.) Cat spoke Russian, was an expert seamstress, and wrote an award-winning young adult novel called Treasure Forest—the first in a never-completed Forest Inside trilogy.
Then came the cancer. She’d encountered it more than 25 years ago. Twice, in fact. It ran in her family. She didn’t view it as a nemesis, but more like an innocent entity that meant no harm. She credited her earlier recoveries to this attitude. So when it was determined a year ago that there was cancer once again in her body, she approached what she called “this most interesting situation” with a full heart. But she also understood that she was older now, and that it might be different.
This summer, the cancer stopped responding to treatment and she decided to enter hospice. She shared the news publicly and offered people a special email address to which they could write. Ever the teacher, she wanted to give us all a proper lesson in how to say goodbye.
“The most fabulous and curious thing,” she told me about her inbox, “is that I am getting emails from all over the world, about 500 at this point. Amongst them are emails from people with whom I’ve had some small misunderstanding in years past, such that it felt like we had pebbles in our shoes…and each of these people have now returned to me fully clean and fresh; they may not even know we had a pebble, but the result is that there is clearing happening constantly even without my nudging it along! Being washed clean for free. I highly recommend dying for purposes of having a deep bath. So funny.”
Later, I heard from Cat again. “The weird thing,” she wrote, “is that I am afraid that I might have a miracle healing and then it will be so embarrassing to have tricked everyone, including myself. Because if this is what dying is like, it is entirely sweet.” She was no fool. “I’m being careful not to attach to any particular outcome or experience, and know that it is likely to be a rollercoaster. Best to ride with a rollercoaster than against it!”
And that’s precisely how I see her early the morning of September 19, 2020, as she took her last breath and, in the words of her beloved daughter Jenny, “experienced a gentle death she felt ready for and at peace about.”
The fact that she should do so within a day of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg taking her last breath gives me a glimmer of hope. It would be just like Cat to have been put next to RBG on the shuttle to the Great Beyond (“I don’t know! I just asked for a comfortable seat!”).
I’m sure they’ve become fast friends by now and are hatching a plan for us all.
Karel Swift | September 22, 2020
The most perfect remembrance for such a unique and special person. Thank you. I think I have all of Cat’s books and I treasure them.
Clara Parkes | Author | September 22, 2020
You’re welcome. She was such a special woman, wasn’t she?
Manise | September 22, 2020
A perfectly beautiful and touching tribute! Cat and RBG on a shuttle to The Great Beyond would be awesome. ❤️
Sharon | September 23, 2020
Yes, such a delightful thought.
Eileen Walker | September 23, 2020
Thank you for this beautiful tribute to our wonderful Cat.
Czeske | September 25, 2020
This is exquisitely beautiful and well fitting. Thank you for sharing. ♥️
katiebird | September 22, 2020
Thank you so much for this beautiful tribute.
Clara Parkes | Author | September 22, 2020
Kelley | September 27, 2020
Gorgeous tribute. Cat’s open heart was evident even in her YouTube tutorials. What a beautiful and unique soul. She felt like a friend, though I never met her.
Jess Garden | September 22, 2020
I was enchanted by her photos on her trips to South America. She allowed us to accompany her on FB. Such a treasure.
Jeanne Butler | September 22, 2020
I never met her in person, but she taught me so much on- line when I needed her. Perfect person to be with RGB who also taught us what was possible.
Jill | September 22, 2020
That’s lovely. It makes me cry
Denise Wasko-Pena | September 22, 2020
What a beautiful tribute. Wonderfully written. Thank you.
Clara Parkes | Author | September 22, 2020
You’re welcome, Denise
Poppy | September 22, 2020
Such a lovely tribute and spot on. So remember the KR retreat and Cats wonderful class. Thank you dear Clara.
Clara Parkes | Author | September 22, 2020
You’re so welcome, Poppy.
Amy Jo | September 22, 2020
This is such a beautiful and fitting tribute. Thank you. xxxx
Melinda | September 22, 2020
Perfectly wonderful tribute, Clara.
Lori | September 22, 2020
What a beautiful tribute to your delightful friend!
napiligal | September 22, 2020
Thank you for such a lovely tribute to a woman who made her own way!
Kris | September 22, 2020
Cat and RBG. The thought makes my heart sing.
Jan Warner | September 22, 2020
Very first time Her name appeared i was hooked. Took just two of her classes at columbus TNNA and never looked back. She filled my knitting with joy.
Fond farewell, Cat Fly high.
Laurie Pearl | September 22, 2020
I had a similar thought… that Cat and RBG and my friends Grandmother would be in the same Introduction to Heaven class and it would be raucous!
Saremy Duffy | September 22, 2020
What an incredible memorial. Thanks for sharing, Clara.
Sue Mercer | September 22, 2020
Thank you so much for sharing your time and relationship with Cat. It help expand my limited knowledge of her. The world was blessed to have her here
mary annarella | September 22, 2020
A wonderful tribute to a wonderful person.
Lourdes | September 22, 2020
A beautiful memorial Clara — thank you. I never had the pleasure of meeting Cat, but her impact on the knitting world was HUGE and — as a fellow Pacific NWer — she was “family.” A beautifully worded tribute.
Chris Biswell | September 22, 2020
I never met her in person – but I have a drawer full of beautiful socks thanks to her.
Mary Kay | September 22, 2020
I wholeheartedly agree that Cat humbly asked for a comfortable seat, and now RBG can turn a Sweet Tomato Heel like the best of us! Love and peace…
Diane | September 22, 2020
I must ask. When did the h appear in her last name and why?
TrisKit | January 17, 2021
I don’t really know, but if you drop the “r” from her name, you’re left with “bodhi,” a Sanskrit word that means “awakened” or “enlightened.” Which certainly speaks to her wonderful techniques, if nothing else. Sail gently among the stars, dear Cat.
TrisKit | January 17, 2021
Found the explanation in this NYT obit.
Linda Hanford | September 22, 2020
Thanks for your tribute. I met Cat at my first and only Madrona. Two moments come to mind. The first was when I was taking her Mobius class. I have a familial tremor which worsens when I am nervous. She was looking over my shoulder and my hands were shaking so much I could barely make a stitch. I apologized, saying “my hands shake more when I’m being watched’. She replied – ‘You’re not being watched. You’re being helped’. A deep breath later and my shaking settled. Later on, she came by and said ‘Nice little action you’ve got going there missy!’. So kind, so affirming.
The second moment came when I was standing in line for the dinner. I was wearing a mosaic stole of which I was particularly proud. She came over to admire it – I was chuffed to bits!
Such a great loss to our world.
Kcc | September 22, 2020
Barbara Hoag | September 22, 2020
I learned about Knitters Review thru Cat Bordhi. I attended three of her retreats. She was wonderful. I loved floating around on the ferries and learning to knit socks.
I hope my sister gets to meet her.
Becky Branzell | September 22, 2020
Stephanie | September 22, 2020
Clara, what a beautiful tribute. I wrote Cat a note too when I heard of her most recent illness. We had never met in person, but she taught me to knit socks and to not hate it. I carry socks soar on 2 circs in my “sock sack” to this day. I’m sorry I never carried her light in life but will try to exit this world one day with her grace.
Cynthia DeSoi | September 22, 2020
I met Cat with YOU at a sock class in Blue Hill. At least I think you were there too, unless I’m hallucinating. It was quite an experience. I still have the cardboard cutout of my foot she had us make. I never made another pair of socks that way, but i treasure the ones made made from that class. She really was pure spirit.
Sivia Harding | September 22, 2020
Your tribute brought tears and laughter, and isn’t that just like Cat too? I think it was part of Cat’s unique ability to temper her words and actions for each person, so that my experience of her may be quite different from yours or anyone else’s. I really appreciated your putting it all together in a big picture, although there could never be a picture big enough. Now she belongs to the ages. We are so lucky to have known her.
Mary Still | September 22, 2020
What a beautiful post! I had hoped to attend a workshop on Friday Island…..Alas, this will not happen now. However I have her Craftsy Class about the Moebius and a book about the Versatilde so I’m all set…….sort of….what a magical spirit she was!
Jo-Hanna Read | September 22, 2020
Actually, Cat told us at an Island Retreat that Treasure Forest WAS a trilogy. You just need to read it 3 times! She was amazing. Thank you for writing this.
Barb French | September 22, 2020
Thank you for the words and the thoughts about dear Cat. I met her on the island at a weaving retreat and it was instant adoration (on my part). We climbed stairs to keep her healthy, laughed, and I just was in awe at her child-like approach to life. I love the expression about her and RBG on the shuttle together. What a good conversation that would lead to! I will cherish my memories of her and the pieces I have that she made. She taught me to be less critical of myself, and more playful. She will indeed be missed but I think her lessons will be carried on by so many of us. Hugs to you on the loss of your friend. She was a good one.
k1teach2 | September 22, 2020
Thank you for these words. What a gift you have to evoke the essence of Cat Bordhi! I worked my way through nearly every sock in New Pathways for Sock Knitters when it first came out and marveled at her brain. She made me a much better and more confident knitter. I’m not surprised that she chose to bring her life to a close so gracefully. But just think of all those ideas she took with her.
Amy | September 22, 2020
I don’t know if I heard it or read it, but one of the best things I learned from Cat is that your socks don’t have to match!
Jan Cornelius | September 22, 2020
My special memory of Cat is attending many of her classes at various Stitches and TNNA events. We got on beautifully and as I left the first day I asked if there was anything she needed. I was local to that first conference. “Bring fresh fruit, oranges especially, and apples. Fresh fruit is hard to get on the road.” From then on, if Cat was teaching, I made sure to be in her class and a bag of beautiful fresh fruit was always in my hand as I arrived. Thank you for a beautifully written and heartfelt portrait of Cat. I’m deeply touched.
Bridget | September 22, 2020
For years, I wanted to go to a retreat which included Cat. But, it seemed, each of those years included a cat in my life about to pass to the bridge. And they did. I hope Cat is taking care of my little ones.
Ruth | September 22, 2020
Thank you for this lovely tribute. The world is a dimmer place without Cat in it.
Debbie Gudger | September 22, 2020
With Cat, first you might have heard her speak-or perform at a Madrona Teachers’ Talent Show…then you took a class…suddenly you found yourself in Friday Harbor knitting with CAT BORDHI!! Then, even more mystifyingly, the next year you were there again, WEAVING with CAT BORDHI!! How did that happen? ….I was never going to weave…but that was the magical Cat..she led you where you had no intention of going and showed you how much you needed to be there. I’ll treasure my memories of Cat always….and I’ll do my best to apply her lessons to my life.
Thank you, Clara, for sharing more of Cat with us. How I hope someone will write Cat’s story-or that she’s already written it and there will be one last book. OR…that all of you with such tales of Cat could each write a chapter….It’s too hard to let go.
.: tani :. | September 22, 2020
Beautiful tribute! I’m so sad to hear of her passing. I had the privilege of meeting her once and somehow ended up having dinner with my knitting idol. By the end of the meal my stammering and fan-girling had developed into pure admiration for such a down-to-earth and lovely woman. Cat will be missed dearly.
Kim | September 22, 2020
These are wonderful words. I never met Cat, but she meant the world to me. Many hours were spent with one of her books in my lap as I reacquainted myself with the world of knitting. But her world was more than that. It was closer to a wonderland. There were many times I imagined meeting her and learning from her. I always thought she would be quite extraordinary to know. I miss her.
Lucille Reilly | September 22, 2020
I am in shock. What an incredible mind, which I know for knitting, but she must have been like that in many other ways. A tragic loss. I have both of Cat’s Mobius books and one of her socks books–thankfully all of them before she turned to e-books. Yes, what an incredible mind. We have definitely lost someone who knew so much, yet we can be grateful that she left so much behind for us to enjoy.
Laura | September 22, 2020
Thank you for sharing great memories. Cat was our first retreat teacher at Churchmouse Yarns &Teas, we were so happy to host Cat and become friends. She was a delight, great energy and enthusiasm for knitting and Life!
Jennifer | September 22, 2020
Such a beautiful tribute, Clara. I remember Cat so fondly at the KR Retreats. She was so exuberant, so much fun. I’ll never forget her moebius class, and thinking “this cast on just *came* to her?! Woah!” ❤️
Catherine Samalea | September 22, 2020
Truly, a life well lived. I will miss her even though I never met her.
Julie | September 22, 2020
I believe I first met Cat in 2008 at Sock Camp. She made everyone there feel so special. I was fortunate enough to take several classes from her and attend three of her retreats after that first encounter. She was such a special person, and, I feel blessed to have known her.
Midori Gunheim | September 22, 2020
Thank you, Clara, for this lovely tribute. I never met Cat in person, but when I ordered her tomato socks book, I had some problem with downloading something, and had to email her. She found out I’m a teacher of young children, and that I teach kids to knit and spin. We had a wonderful email correspondence for a while, and she shared some curriculum she used to use to teach children… She was enchanting. Spoke to me like we had been best friends forever. I was so warmed and honored… I think I fell in love with her a little bit. 😊🌷💗
Trish Aussem | September 22, 2020
You are such a beautiful writer Clara and what a lovely tribute you have written to Cat. I never met her or was fortunate enough to have taken one of her classes but I feel like I knew her by reading about your friendship. Thank you for sharing with all of us.
Bonnie Miller | September 22, 2020
You captured Cat so beautifully. I was lucky enough to travel with her in Peru. Her sense of adventure, curiosity, and playfulness were contagious, making it a magical time indeed. I’m wearing a pair of her Bartholomew’s Tantalizing socks that I made after hearing of her impending passing, and they are on my feet now, like a warm hug. She left such joy in her wake… something that continues on. May her memory be for a blessing.
Celia Edwards | September 22, 2020
Thank you for your heartfelt tribute about Cat; it was beautiful. I was fortunate to be able to attend her Friday Harbor retreats for 8 years enjoying knitting and weaving with Cat. Cat opened up a whole new world for me; one filled with her brightness; curiosity; talent; determination; enjoyment of life, etc. I could go on and on. My life has been so blessed by knowing and spending time with Cat and I will miss her greatly. I know that now when I look up to the stars at night, Cat will be the brightest one shining in the sky.
David Krag | September 22, 2020
Excerpts from most recent Message to Cat: regarding Blue skies in Vermont
I am in my writing corner in our house.
Ahead and to the right I look out over the lower pond.
Today the King Fisher was busy. They chatter loud and dive hard.
They perch in reliable locations for their vantage of choosing their targets.
So, it is easy to spot them.
Unlike the Vermont wood thrush that has a comforting bell-like hollow song at dusk. The sound seems to come from anywhere and I never can actually see them.
To the left is north view this lets me keep an eye on the coming and going of people to our house.
The light through this window is always just right.
Today I continue to respond to the FDA for our new cancer treatment protocol.
You will be pleased with me. The treatment plan is so different that the FDA does not know how to respond.
They keep trying to make me explain it in reference to conventional treatments and I have to keep making explanations.
It is me dancing versus FDA check off lists. I know that you know what I mean.
You have inspired me to emphasize my inner workings to dance with cancer.
Learning to dance has been helpful.
Well, I think about you just about every day. And I mean before the notification of your upcoming death.
How to dance. How to see a field of different grasses and wild plants and use this pattern to explain how to help make cancer be reduced.
The patterns of nature are all around. They provide guidance and ideas.
It takes being open to these patterns and you have always supported thinking this way.
I know that you are tired. When you close your eyes we in Vermont are holding you tight.
Excerpts from most recent Message from Cat:
Ah, my dearest David, how I love you.
You relay to me all the beauty of your flora and fauna life and tell me exciting things about the FDA and what you have to offer now, and only later do you mention that I am dying.
I want us to have time for a good sweet Facetime or something like that before I can’t. Athough I am feeling so good now that my meds have been calibrated better for me, that I am skeptical of my death, Hah.
I wrote to a friend yesterday that I am having fun dying. I know you can appreciate that. To another friend I wrote, It may seem I am going away but I am actually coming closer. I know you can understand that also.
Whenever you tell me how I have influenced you I am filled with wonder. I am so glad that we met. Can you imagine us not knowing one another? Impossible.
Clara Parkes | Author | September 24, 2020
Oh David, thank you so much for sharing this!
Diane Prager | September 22, 2020
I might be the only person who ever rendered Cat Bordhi speechless. I was attending one of her sock classes as a new knitter (the socks that resulted are one of my favorite pairs). She asked us all to tell her the first thing we ever knit. I told her I knit a scarf for my dog. She was ( momentarily) at a loss for words, and then said she wasn’t expecting that answer. I was very impressed with myself, because I figured she’d heard everything!
She was lovely, exuberant spirit and I’m so sad she’s gone.
Karen Scott Haggas | September 22, 2020
How very much we love to surround ourselves with times or things or sounds that bring us joy. Knitting or music or reading. Since I first “met” Cat and her wonderful patterns and creations, I have felt drawn to the feelings she invokes in me. Creativity. The sense I Can do something new. Seeing beauty in the little things around me.
Cat has always brought me to that warm and comfortable place.
And to joy.
May her next journey be one of peace…
Constance Perenyi | September 22, 2020
I had the most wonderful image a few hours after Cat’s passing. She and RBG had already connected, and Ruth was showing Cat her collection of hand-made collars. Cat was, of course, inspired and started hatching plans for how to share that inspiration with us still on earth. What a generous life and death. Thank you for these beautiful words.
Clara Parkes | Author | September 24, 2020
Oh how brilliant, those collars – I can totally see this too!
Gisela | September 22, 2020
I never met Cat but she inspired me in so many ways. Thank you for sharing with us such a beautiful tribute to her. Her work will influence so many generations in the future, as it has our generation. Such a beautiful soul. May God keep her close to Him and may she Rest In Peace.
Lyn | September 22, 2020
Your splendid tribute of this brilliant and joyful knitting visionary makes her loss just a bit easier. Thank you, Clara! I learned to knit socks from her and her books 16 years ago. I still knit all small-circumferences on 2 circs to this day. My memory will soar back to her with every sleeve, sock, hat and mitt I work. And back to your (this) beautiful celebration of her life.
Loretta McCollough | September 22, 2020
Of all the knitting books I own, Cat’s Socks Soar has been my most cherished. I’ve not been without socks on two circs for the past 12 years, having knit over 100 pairs. And all thanks to Cat Bordhi. Your tribute was an absolute joy to read–thank you for sharing your memories of her with us.
Marsha Wenskay | September 23, 2020
I loved your story about Cat. I would often see her at various TNNA Meetings
Or knitting events. I never approached her directly as I held her in awe and did not want my fan girl vibe to put her off. I never had the stars align for me to take a class from her. That was my technique for meeting my knitting rockstars. That is how I was able to meet you.
She was a genius. I have taught her free mobius pattern and cast on many times over the years. I think your description of the way she traveled through life sounds magical. Peacefully into the great unknown, assured that it will all work out.
Heather Ellison | September 23, 2020
This is an amazing tribute to an amazing LADY!. You were so fortunate to have spent time with her and we are grateful to continue to learn from and enjoy the fruits of her labor. Thank you
Peta Richkus | September 23, 2020
A perfect tribute, Clara, capturing Cat’s many facets. I traveled to Peru w/Cat on the first of her group trips there (2014). It was magical is so many ways. She embraced every moment, celebrated every person and experience, and promoted the hell out of the communities we visited, their culture and traditions and craftsmanship. We stayed in the truly spartan (to support the nuns); the quirky (because its beauty, and convenience, outweighed it all; and the luxurious, because it was Green in all aspects including growing its restaurant’s food and making its own construction bricks. No detail was too small to attend to. And Cat made magic happen every day.
Roz | September 23, 2020
What a beautiful tribute, Clara. I was fortunate to have taken many classes and retreats from Cat. Her inspiration and enthusiasm was endless. We corresponded about non-knitting events, such as her time with Charlie and their hysterical adventures. I am feeling such a loss, but I know her spirit will remain with me always.
Susan | September 23, 2020
I do so love this. Thank you for it.❤️
Jo Dahl | September 23, 2020
What a beautiful tribute you’ve written. You described her life so well. A special lady indeed. Thank you.
DerMuge | September 23, 2020
This does her proud. I was one of those who sent her email in her last days, reminding her of a typically Cat kind deed and telling her of my grief. SHE WROTE BACK ! – to me, a nobody Downunder whom she’d never met ..
–On Sun, Aug 2, 2020 at 1:33 PM Margaret-Rose Stringer wrote:
I am sure you don’t want people to write to you of their deep, deep unhappiness at your terrible news.
You would much prefer to read – when you’re able – about whatever joy they can find.
You brought me such happiness and I am forever grateful .. It was what you’d consider a nothing, a bagatelle ..
I had ordered one of your books, but stuffed up my order and indicated the wrong one. I (such a demanding old fart, me !) wrote to you and asked if you would explain to Ravelry, as I was longing to get started.
Instead, you sent me a copy of the one I wanted, and you wrote:
“It’s one of the joys of being a designer that I can do things like this spontaneously…Merry Christmas to you and may everything and everyone you are in touch with feel your beautiful heart and enjoy life just a bit more.
Dear, dear Cat, possessor of a heart the size of a soccer-ball, there will never be anyone like you.
I have loved your lisp, am I allowed to say that ? – I say it anyway. It’s part of your enormous appeal.
What I can’t grasp about life is that those like you, and like my beloved husband, are the ones that cancer robs us of, like a thief in the night.
I can say only that it is people like you two who leave behind a light in this dark night .. a light that never goes out.
You have been very loved.
I love that you love my lisp — I’d forgotten I have it! Thank you, and I love that we had that email exchange years ago.
Thank you lovely person, for writing me now. It means so much.
I love you,
Eve | September 23, 2020
Clara, thanks for writing this. I first met Cat in the mid 80’s when she was making teddy bears and I worked at a teddy bear shop in San Francisco. I discovered her again when you reviewed Socks Soar on Two Needles and promptly ordered it and then followed that with many of her books and patterns. I loved the way she described the knitting process and encouraged us to expand our horizons and ideas about knitting and how she opened up the creativity in my knitting projects. I recently tried to google her bears and was disappointed because I could not find any – I hadn’t realized she had changed the spelling of her name so I was looking for Bordhi instead of Bordi.
Suzanne Anderson | September 23, 2020
Thank you, Clara, for a most heart-felt writing honoring Cat. If I may, I echo everyone else’s comments. We did lose a true creative genius. I am grateful for seeing her at one retreat and that I have her books. Sad indeed, but maybe she wouldn’t want that said.
Clara Parkes | Author | September 24, 2020
So true. She would rather we stayed right here in this bubble of love.
Alicia M White | September 23, 2020
I was very fortunate to attend a class given by Cat. It was my first time going out to an event in my new wheel chair and I was so nervous. She instantly made me feel comfortable, and made sure I could navigate to what I needed. She gave me courage not only in knitting but in my changed life. Her stories of her beloved home on the island were enchanting. Like RBG, her legacy will live on.
Corrie Lassen | October 23, 2020
Clara, I have admired the clarity of your writing for years, and deeply appreciate how much I’ve learned from you. And you have completely outdone yourself here. I never got to meet Cat, but she has been my favorite designer and teacher since I first discovered her. I am still poring over her second sock knitting book, which I’m using to make socks for my chemo nurses after my own second bout with cancer. So brilliant, so creative, so helpful, so inspiring! Her solutions strike me as elegant, in the sense that a mathematician would use that word. She gave me hope that my own joyful creativity, disinterest in doing things the normal way, and constant search for a better solution will, perhaps, bear fruit as glorious as hers. Your tribute made me cry hard and laugh harder, and gave me a much truer picture of this woman I have admired for so long and will miss very much. Thank you so much.
Clara Parkes | October 23, 2020
Oh Corrie. Cat would have been absolutely delighted to know you felt this way. It’s everything she aimed to inspire in people. ❤️
Mary on Cape Cod | September 23, 2020
What a lovely tribute for a magically unique soul!
Nancy Marchant | September 23, 2020
You certainly captured the essence of Cat. She was such an inspiration simply on how to live a full life.
Susan Blair | September 23, 2020
Beautiful tribute. Thank you!
Deedee Winters | September 23, 2020
My heart broke on September 19. As with Elizabeth Zimmerman, I was never blessed with knowing Cat personally. We did interact every time I bought her books. I would rave about her genius and she would sweetly thank me. As also with EZ, I hope to sit with these truly wonderful ladies when I cross over. Your beautifully written piece was the perfect memoir for Cat. I loved the way she taught me. Deedee Winters
Pippa Jones | September 23, 2020
I remember having a problem with the moebius cast on, ending up with double the stitches and then doubling them again on the first row, ending up with a loop that was about 10 ft. long. I figured out what I did, and emailed Cat to share the story and the laugh. Her reply came within 24 hours – she told me I wasn’t the first one to do this, “perhaps I need to re-write that part of the instructions”. What a great teacher.
Teva Durham | September 23, 2020
I believe this is the best profile I have ever read. You conveyed the magic of Cat. I’m going to take some of this spirit that came off the page and bring it into my life. I have lost my faith in the knitting world and this reminded me of the best of it. Cat was an inspiration as are you, Clara.
Clara Parkes | Author | September 24, 2020
❤️ thank you Teva. Always remember the goodness.
Leslie F | September 23, 2020
Cat Bordhi was a force to be reckoned with…creative and confident. A long time ago, I took a class from her at Vogue Knitting Live. She was the only teacher I have ever had that showed up with her own sound system! She definitely controlled her classroom and kept us moving forward towards our target despite the wide range of skills present. And yet, you didn’t feel rushed or hurried…just taking steps on a voyage of discovery.
Like you, I found it ironic that she and RBG passed away in the same 24-hour period. May we hold the lessons that we learned from both close to our hearts, and strive for our better natures.
Syd T. | September 23, 2020
I had the great fortune to take multiple classes from her over the years. I can still hear her laugh in my head. I loved her mind and teaching style as much as I loved her and her designs. I will never forget her taking a ball of yarn out of her bra…used it as a prosthetic…but she ran out of yarn to knit…and after all she had her priories! She inspired me every time I saw her.
rebelflairsnowbird | September 23, 2020
Thank you Clara for a beautifully written tribute to Cat. I first found her through the A Treasure of Magical Knitting at a MKAL in Phoenix area. I was hooked by her wonderful ideas and it freed me up to try so many things in the knitting world. Just purchased her digital book Sweet Tomato Heel Socks and am sure to be amazed at her patterns.
Though we never met, I feel connected to her via the love and encouragement expressed in her books. What a lovely person. She will be so welcomed to the Great Beyond! Bless her.
Tasha Duvic Patterson | September 23, 2020
What a beautiful tribute to your friend. And what a great example she was of how I hope I can be when I’m facing my final days.
Elizabeth Boyle | September 23, 2020
Thank you for sharing your memories of Cat and your lovely words of tribute. I was lucky enough to take classes from her at Madrona and LOVED her books. Finally, socks that fit–that was the genuis of Cat Bordhi. She saw the world in all the ways possible and found the best path. Her humor, her boundless joy and her willingness to share all that she loved and knew to be good and true are an example to all of us.
Nancy Bauer | September 23, 2020
A joy to read this homage, a nonpareil tribute to a nonpareil woman.Thank you, dear Clara!
CORALEE WENZEL | September 23, 2020
Truly one of a kind. As heartbreaking as it was, the first sentence in Jenny’s post — “This is Jenny, Cat’s daughter, writing to tell all of you that my mom’s beautiful playful soul exited her body this morning as she experienced a gentle death she felt ready for and at peace about. ” — has to be the most eloquent death announcement I’ve ever read. <3
Clara Parkes | Author | September 24, 2020
I thought so too. Eloquent and true, for you know that’s just how it transpired.
elaine | September 23, 2020
Thank you for such a wonderful tribute for a lady so many of us admired! I love her books and listening to her instructional videos ~ her words always make me smile 🙂
Kim Whelan | September 23, 2020
Thank you for this.
Your BFL from Ann Arbor MI
Michael LaPlaca | September 23, 2020
Thank you for a wonderful remembrance.
What an inspiration.
Keep up your good work too.
Karen Rose | September 23, 2020
I picture Cat not only making a new collar for RBG, but teaching her knitting on two circulars!
Carole Shirk | September 23, 2020
Oh my gosh! What sad news. But, Clara, your tribute was written with such elegance. Have never met any of the many famous knitting designers. However, in reading in my many knitting mags, the stories of how you all started on this magic trip of crafting-knitting/ crocheting is very enlightening. Have never attended a knitting conference; my hubby always says he’ll take me! Again, a beautiful tribute.
Carole Shirk, Sylvania, Ohio
Amy O'Neill Houck | September 23, 2020
Dearest Clara, thank you so much for this perfect remembrance. What a joy to read and be in Cat’s presence again for a moment. I found my copy of Treasure Forest the other day. Time to read it, finally.
Melissa Weaver Dunning | September 24, 2020
A lovely tribute! I feel like I should be sad that we never met, but it’s clear to me that we have met in spirit and through her books – her buoyant generosity is so inspiring!
Kendra | September 24, 2020
Thank you so much for such a touching and accurate tribute! I took an all day class from her in June 2019, on heels and toes. Her verve for life was so infectious. She stopped the class at one point to tell me I had an infectious laugh and sought me out the rest of the time to “laugh for her”, or “insert your laugh here”. She had a way of making everyone around her feel like a star, when she was the true star of the show. She gave a presentation that evening on her trips to Peru. She inspired me to be more open and joyous. I was a fan for years, but knew her only briefly. I wish we’d all had more time with her. Thank you.
Maria | September 24, 2020
Love her ingenuity! I am so sorry that she had to deal with cancer 3 times in her life. You wrote such a wonderful tribute to your friend. May she knit on and on…
lauragayle | September 25, 2020
It’s a bit dusty in here. Thank you for this lovely tribute, Clara.
Oneday Designs | September 25, 2020
Thank you so much for this Clara. Cat had a profound effect on my teaching, especially my Moebius classes, which have always been one of my favourite classes to teach and I love being able to share the magic of Cats Moebius Cast on with my students. And leave it to Cat to go out with a bang after recently releasing her MoMo patterns. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to meet Cat and yet I feel as if I’ve known her forever. She will always have a special place in my heart and I know that she will never be far away.
Deborah Silverman | September 26, 2020
You have captured her essence perfectly. I lived in Friday Harbor and Cat was a friend. Cat was a friend to all. Her spirit will be missed and my heart goes out to Jenny and Charlie. But what a wonderful parent and grandmother! She was a positive force and will be missed by many. Obviously!
KR | September 26, 2020
Wonderfully put. Thank you.
Debbie Fister | September 26, 2020
I never met Cat in person, but when I started knitting again I started with socks. Although I don’t even own her books, I ditched the DP needles for 2 circulars as soon as I knew that is was possible. I suppose that was her influence on my sock knitting. It seems like a small change, but it had a HUGE effect on the finished product and on the process of knitting socks. I still have socks on my needles all the time. But I have changed the 2 circulars for one long one.
Linda, Denise Interchangeables | September 27, 2020
My heart swells as I read your remembrance of her, as it did just being around her. I loved being in “her orbit” and the magical ideas and events that ensued. She inspired us as a company to offer a way for yarn lovers to generously contribute to cancer research, a dance that she and I shared and that brought us together. She so believed in the research my brother-in-law, David Krag, has been conducting that she contributed her energies and then the proceeds from her “Felfs” book to promoting it. Being with her made the universe of possibilities expand – and it was fun!
I appreciate so much getting a glimpse into your relationship with her, as well as that of those who have responded. Her light continues to inspire me to accept the transformations of life with an open mind and heart. Sweetness is all around, if I open myself to it. Thank you for the sweetness your tribute showered on me.
Clara Parkes | Author | September 27, 2020
Kelly Champion | September 28, 2020
I only met Cat once at one of her knitting retreats on San Juan Island. it was memorable. I was getting ready to send her an email to see if her trip to Scotland might happen next year.
Cat you are already missed. Rest in peace.
Terri Redman | September 28, 2020
Cat was fantastic wonderful lady. Always wanted to take class from her. I’m much older than her, knitted since I was a child but learned a lot from her. May she rest in peace and her legacy continue for generations to come. Nelly
Jennifer B Anderson | September 28, 2020
Thank you so much for writing this, Clara! This is a touching and poignant tribute and I know it will be with me for days to come.
I only communicated with Cat through email, but was amazed at how generous, kind, and open she was. Your words struck the perfect note for how I imagine she would be in person and I’m so grateful for being able to share in that.
I love the idea of her being partnered with RBG on the shuttle to the Great Beyond! Somehow that makes it all just a little easier to know that they are together. <3