Meet Cat Bordhi. If you knit, you probably already know who she is. Cat is a rockstar within the knitting world — for her workshops, her sock patterns, and her versatildes. Her latest project is called Felfs – or felted footwear. She is donating 100% of her latest book and pattern’s proceeds to the research lab of Dr. David Krag at the University of Vermont Medical School. Krag is working on targeted therapies for breast cancer.
Cat is a former school teacher and a great writer. I really enjoy reading her detailed blog posts about her travels and knitting adventures through Mexico and Peru. She has a way of writing about a place — and the people who live in that place — which immediately transports you there.
I must admit: I’ve never knitted anything in my life, though I would like to learn one day. Cat is A‘s aunt and I met her for the first time out in California this past Christmas — though we had corresponded before that via email. Cat immediately made me feel really comfortable in a household full of many people I didn’t know. It’s one of her many gifts.
Because Cat travels about half the year and lives on an island the rest of the year, I was really interested to find out how she gets her news. If you’d like to participate in this series, just let me know. And if you want to read the archives, click here.
1. How do you get your news?
I continue to seek a news source that is neither titillating nor tilted. I browse NPR and The Guardian, and often wish I would stop looking at the Daily Beast. When I was a fifth-grade teacher passing out obligatory social studies textbooks at the start of the year, I always warned the kids that the book was written by a committee (and would show them the list on the copyright page) and that those individuals had to continuously homogenize and compromise their differing viewpoints and that consequently there was very little, if any, truth in the book. To bring this point home, I’d ask if a sibling or someone else had ever unjustly reported an event to their parents, and they had been blamed for something they believed had not happened that way. I find it impossible to give history (or the news, which seems to me to be a current form of history) real credence because virtually all primary sources are biased, and it only gets worse when they are selectively synthesized a day or centuries later.
2. Please send me a gif or video or poem that captures your attention span.
To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour.
3. How do you take your coffee?
I like a large mug of black tea with about an inch of whole milk. When I’m traveling, if I have no decaf tea available in the evening, I sometimes have a cup of milky tea with no tea. It sounds absurd but to me it is peaceful and comforting.
4. Who’s doing it right in news?
Rachel Maddow is refreshingly curious, intelligent, and unafraid, and I am very pleased when she gets that bright-eyed look and transfers herself to the other side of an issue to see the view from there. Still, she tilts the news and does a splendid job of making it titillating. I dream of her one morning realizing that from this day on she will give up the tilting part, because if anyone is capable of pulling that feat off, it is her and I think she would totally love the adventure. I don’t really want her to stop being titillating.
5. What’s the first news event that you remember?
When John F. Kennedy was shot. I was in eighth grade, in science class in the basement, and we were dismissed early. Everyone, even the school bus driver, wept on the bus.
6. What was the best thing that happened to you this week?
I have been teaching myself Spanish for nearly two years and dreaming of becoming friends with a Latino family on the island where I live. Yesterday my home was filled with the happy music of three children playing with the many toys that fill my home, while their mom and I sat on the floor knitting and having deep, wide-ranging conversations in Spanish that we will continue for years to come. Que alegria!
7. Describe yourself a little bit. Tell me how you fell in love with knitting.
I am insatiably curious about how things work (from tools to humans to dynamics of all kinds) and what would happen “if.” I love it when something goes awry because it means I have landed in a surprise world where there are likely to be treasures. My strongest gift is that I see the inner harmony and innocence in a stranger before I notice their personality (in particularly challenging cases I might see them simultaneously); this means that my interactions are nearly always nourishing and easy.
I fell in love with knitting because unlike woven fabric, which must be cut (and parts wasted) and shaped in order to be sewn into something, an adventurous knitter can engineer a unique garment with zero waste, with precisely the shape, elasticity, texture, and color desired, in one fell swoop. It is akin to magic and has no limits. And there is a profound tranquillity that fills a knitter while knitting; it even affects those around them like a utopian version of second-hand smoke. As a seventh-grade teacher a dozen years ago, I used it to transform my hormone-riddled students into an attentive and uniformly kind community of learners. And in Peru, for two years now, as a guide, I’ve watched how the sight of skillful hands in motion—our North American knitter-travelers and indigenous artisans— triggers an unconditionally intimate sharing of knowledge and joy as if we are all long-lost family.
8. Where do you live? Region is fine. City is better, but optional.
I live on an island far from shore in the Salish Sea in the most northwestern corner of Washington state. In the rainy season a creek branches around my property and then rejoins, so right now I actually live on an island on an island.
10. What do you absolutely hate about the news?
That it is predominantly such a powerful negative and mind-numbing influence on otherwise intelligent people, who if they were nourished by objective and interesting explorations of issues and engaged with more questions than answers, might make more collaborative choices about how to behave as individuals and world citizens.
11. What’s the best podcast or audio to listen to while doing chores?
I like to set a timer for 30 minutes and sing along with Juan Luis Guerra in Spanish and see how much I can get done before the bell rings. It has the pleasure of a great competitive sport where everyone wins.
12. How do you get your news when you travel around the world?
Same as when I am home.