178 Taxonomies

A sock heel that works with gradient dyed yarn; making a home; memories of dump runs past; buttons; the Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge.

Syncopation socks are off the needles. The heel used is Cat Bordhi’s Sweet Tomato Heel. (More about Cat’s legacy below.) It did not occur to me whilst fiddling about with heels, trying to get the gradient to play nicely, that the full colour transition doesn’t show at all when I’m wearing shoes.

Confession that will surprise no one: I am a Felix. Tonia is an Oscar.

Thanks to my friend, Katie, for her service in dump runs, garage clearing, button sorting, and for sharing with me the existence of Borges’ Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge.

Read more about John Wilkins and his proposed universal language. Argentine writer, Jorge Luis Borges, crafted an essay on Wilkins’ work, wherein Borges outlines his own delightfully fictitious taxonomy of animals, Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge.

Music in this episode:

Maintaining Cat Bordhi’s Legacy

Cat Bordhi was one of the most creative people we’ve ever known, and one of the most generous. Her generosity burst forth in her teaching, in school systems where she helped the curriculum come alive, and then in the fibre world, where she came up with inventive ways to teach not only skills but an approach of joyous experimentation and discovery.

Throughout much of this time, Cat experienced cancer. She held it off with her characteristic enthusiasm for many years. We lost her in the fall of 2020, as the covid-19 pandemic was upending multiple aspects of our lives. Cat’s clear-sighted awareness meant she knew that she would be leaving us, and she knew she had built a legacy. She knew that legacy would need an attentive guardian, and she asked some friends to be its guardians.

Chief among those guardians is her good friend, Val Curtis, who bravely agreed to continue maintaining Cat’s website, original works, patterns, and books and to do everything possible to make sure the knitting community has ongoing access to the incomparable and valued resources Cat had generated over so many years. Cat asked that her daughter, Jenny, and Val come to an agreement that they both felt was fair with regards to compensation and they did. They, too, are dear friends. Jenny used to be Val’s next-door neighbour and their boys were babies together.

As organized as Cat was, behind the scenes her abundant, inventive spirit left more good stuff than we have seen yet; work that needs to be shaped into shareable formats. In some cases these need to be made out of scraps and crumbs that Cat left behind: enough to work with, but not enough to make that job simple or straightforward.

Preserving Cat’s legacy is a job Val volunteered for and has taken on with alacrity and dedication. But to do this, she needs our support: emotional, for sure, and with an appreciation for her time and effort, and skills (which, as Cat knew, are plentiful). She has played many roles in Cat’s absence to keep the community afloat. This has ranged from emotional support to Cat’s beloved friends to keeping the spirit of Cat’s Silent Knitting group via bi-weekly Zoom gatherings and developing Test Knit groups to piece together patterns that are almost complete.

While Val has felt the love, kindness, and creativity of Cat’s community, a number of us would like to make more widely known and acknowledge the yeoman work she has done in maintaining that community.

This letter comes as an appeal from many of Cat’s friends and associates: let’s all pitch in and give Val the appreciation her work deserves. Let’s also make a team effort to keep the magic going, to the best of our ability.

This is how we all can honour the treasure that Cat was.

Lorilee Beltman

Anne Berk

Janine Bajus

Judy Becker

JC Briar

Beth Brown-Reinsel

Ann Budd

Brenda Dayne

Carson Demers

Franklin Habit

Sivia Harding

Amy O’Neill Houck

Marta McCall

Jamie McCanless

Sandra McIver

Sunne Meyer

Syne Mitchell

Alasdair Post-Quinn

Andrea Price

Sean Riley

Deborah Robson

Gayle Roehm

David Roth

Myrna Stahman

Jeny Staiman

Jill Wolcott

Cat’s legacy continues at:


About Val and Cat

Cat’s Ravelry Forum

Silent Knitting Group

Private Facebook Group – Cat’s Cradle


I’m a serial maker of podcasts, and many things that are not podcasts. I love playing with yarn, fibre and cloth. I will never accept that furniture in my living room only goes two ways. Almost every night, I dream about houses.


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  1. 7.20.22
    Judy said:

    Hi Brenda

    I really enjoyed the podcast today, as always. I just wanted to add a note to your quest for a heel that would work with your gradient yarn. It’s simple but effective and works with almost every type of knitted heel. Break the yarn at the start of the heel. Join back onto the yarn at the opposite end of your yarn supply and work your heel, working from the end of your gradient backwards. When ready to begin working in the round again, break the yarn again, and rejoin the yarn back at the ending point before you began your heel. The gradient will pick up where you left off and continue down the foot seamlessly. Your heel will look totally coordinated and will subtly accent the sock. You will have a couple of extra ends to weave in, but it’s a small price to pay for using your favourite sock heel.

    I also wanted to tell you that I was especially moved by your story about your children’s board games. I can really identify with the feelings you experienced.

    I think I went through similar feelings the day that I found my mother’s owl spoon rest in the local thrift shop. I knew my siblings had donated some things to the thrift shop while clearing out my parent’s home. My mother was in care, suffering with dementia. My father was in care because he was in his nineties and couldn’t cope without my mother. My siblings and I were clearing out and selling their home.

    The spoon rest was from the 1970’s, when owls were a big decorating thing. The spoon rest had sat in my childhood kitchen, on top of my mother’s stove, for most of my life. I never gave the spoon rest a second thought throughout the decades it sat between the burners.

    That is until I saw it in the Thrift shop that day. I had to stop browsing and leave the store. I sat in my car in the parking lot and was overcome with tears. I couldn’t understand why I was so emotional about an owl-shaped spoon rest. It’s not that I had ever wanted the spoon rest or that it held any memories for me. It was a spoon rest, for god’s sake.

    After more gentle weeping, I thought that maybe it was not the actual spoon rest. Maybe it was where the spoon rest was on that day, or where it was not. It was not in my mother’s kitchen. In fact, my mother’s kitchen had just been dismantled and really no longer existed. Just like my mother’s memory, which had been slowly dismantling over the last difficult decade.

    I desperately wanted that spoon rest, but not for my own kitchen. I wanted it to be back in my mother’s kitchen. And I wanted my mother back in that kitchen too. I was grieving the loss of that kitchen, because it was where I had always found my mother.

    This story occurred over two decades ago, and my mother passed away a year or two afterward.

    That day in the shop was the day that it finally hit home for me. That part of my life was over. And it hurt like hell.

    I was reminded of it, when listening to your story about giving away your children’s games. When I think of that day, I think that it is not the objects that we need to carry with us. It is the emotions, the love and the memories that we must carry onward, with us. They will bring back distant thoughts of mothers lost and children grown and those memories will connect us with the unexpected moments in our own futures.

    All these moments will shape our transition into acceptance of our own life today and acceptance of all the days to come.

    Love to you, Brenda, and thank you for your podcasts, you always manage to touch my heart in some way.

  2. 7.30.22
    Eva said:

    Dear Brenda,
    Enjoyed your podcast episode as I did with all the episodes when I first discovered your work in 2007. It was through you I learned about ravelry, where I signed in immediatly. Thank you for your contribution to the knitting world.
    The well fitting German word you#re looking for is “Wehmut”
    All the best for Tonia and you

  3. 8.3.22
    Jill said:

    Why did I never think of tying together my groups of buttons? (insert mind blown emoji here)

  4. 4.21.23
    Robin Corley said:

    I was on Orcas Island at a retreat with J. MacKenzie, the retreat was over and I was transiting home to Whidbey. My friend and I were at a coffee shop, waiting for a ferry and CAT walked into the coffee shop. We both had our knitting, we were knitting and chatting and she sat down with us and we had the best fun talking about our projects, Judith, Oak Harbor, her projects. I’ll never forget my brush with greatness.