Dateline: Inside Cat Bordhi’s Brain
April 4, 2007
(My suitcase showed up, you’ll be relieved to know. Those cones of organic cotton chenille are safe with me. You can go back to your moving and Passovering now.)
We Arrive at the Oregon Coast
And we discover that this was no “Puppet Show and Spinal Tap” situation; the Magical Moebius Festival was definitely the hot ticket at the Shilo Inn in Newport.
As incredible as it may seem, I have never been to a knitting workshop of this magnitude–a multi-day sensory deprivation type deal, with room and board and deliriously lovely yarns stacked up in piles all over the place, waiting to be (inevitably) adopted. Nancy Parsons and her husband Bob Lathe organized the weekend, and it was just right: mind-blowin’ teachy bits from Cat Bordhi, followed by long stretches of knitting time. Great company in the form of knitters who knew their way around a circular needle. And, oh yeah, the Pacific Ocean for a palate cleanser when the thinking got too heavy.
About This Cat Bordhi Person
The first night, Cat gave us an overview of what we would be thinking about in the coming days. I knew she was famous for figuring out the most elegant way to make a knitted Moebius (here’s some Moebius Wiki for ya). I had never made one, but I figured heckfire how hard could it be? When she held up a Moebius scarf and asked where the cast-on row was, and several brainiac knitters said, “In the middle,” I got very, very sleepy. I decided that I would take her advice and just follow her directions and not wonder about how any of this was happening.
The next morning, we dove in, learning how to cast on for a Moebius. In the above picture Cat is in the midst of knitting Nancy. Nancy got mad when I started following her around with a circular needle: “You don’t knit me, you nutcase redneck.”
Above you can see our brilliant pal Ann Buechner (she of the Flying Geese Blanket in our book) cheerfully absorbing graduate-level Moebiusness. You can see how I’m doing.
After the hair-raising cast-on, it really was a piece of delicious cake. I ended up triple-stranding the very high-calorie Handmaiden Sea Silk for my second Moebius, which I finished on the way home during my travels with the Camas High School Papermakers Marching Band.
That strand marks where the cast on began. Most peculiar.
I winged the pattern, a simple k5, YO, k2tog for 5 rows. Then p5, YO, p2tog for 5 rows. That was all I did for the entire knitting of this scarf. But do you see all that chevron action? Do you know how trippy that was for me? Stitch patterns do strange and cool things when they’re done in a Moebius.
(Edited to add: I fergot to mention that on each round, I made the YO one stitch to the left of where it fell on the previous row. So the chevroniness is because of my placement of the YOs, but the symmetry of the slanted lines of YOs is because of the Moebius cast on.)
I can’t wait to start another one. If you are intrigued by all this (and truly, it is fascinating), you can find A Treasury of Magical Knitting (Moebius 101) and A Second Treasury of Magical Knitting (Moebius intro plus lots of felted projects), as well as Cat’s other books at Nancy Parsons’ Knitter’s Bookshelf, which is the best-edited shop of knitting books you’ll find anywhere on the Internet. It just is.
The Sock Part
Once I was feeling sassy about my Moebius skills, it was time to take on Cat’s new obsession, her forthcoming three-book series, New Pathways for Sock Knitters. She basically bashed us all about the hindquarters with a size 35 as a gentle reminder that we were not to blog about any of the socks we were making. But I can’t help it! It’s just too amazing! Here’s Kay’s sample sock:
And here’s mine:
Isn’t that COOL?
I can’t say much, but I can say that Cat’s new books are going to give the sock-lovin’ knitter about ten years worth of diversion. I can’t quite figure out how she could find ideas that are at once so simple and so very new. But then, that’s Cat.
PS The hotel in Portland was a hoot. (Thanks for the tip, Larissa!)
It’s the Kennedy School, a former elementary school built in 1915, back when a one-story schoolhouse was considered wildly innovative. The spaces were so lovely, and there was art everywhere, often derived from the school’s archives. This photograph haunted me the whole time we were there:
It apparently got in the head of a painter, too:
PSSS I just unearthed proof of other shadowy Internet legends we met in Portland:
Taking the measure of Mariko, which just doesn’t take all that long. Left: the elusive Super Eggplant Mariko, whose online shop Super Buzzy is loaded with squeedorable Japanese fabrics, notions, and gifties. Only somebody as sleek and stylish as Mariko could pull together a shop like this. At right: the legendary Angry Chicken Amy. Amy’s forthcoming book, Bend-the-Rules Sewing, is so beautiful that it makes even a person without a Hello Kitty sewing machine want to take up the craft.
PSSS The trip home was long enough and strange enough that at one point I looked out my window and saw this:
From Portland to Nashville, with a detour by the Grand Canyon. At this point I was all whatEVER. Maybe I’ll see a little elf on the wing. Maybe I imagined this whole, entire thing.