New Pathways

Yesterday I made good use of my current schedule-less schedule to head into Toronto for Cat Bordhi’s class at Lettuce Knit. She is slotted to teach at the Sock Summit and her full-day ‘New Pathways’ class based on her sock architectures book is one of the ones I was anxious to take. So, when Lettuce Knit announced Cat was making an appearance around here this week, I took the opportunity to make sure I’d experience her class – and now I have one less class to try to book myself into at the Sock Summit!

I recall last summer sitting at a knitting night at the Purple Purl and one of the ladies there was struggling with a sock, so I helpfully offered to have a look at the pattern for her. It was Cat’s New Pathways for Sock Knitters book, and I quickly realized that this involved knowledge I did not possess. I became certain that I would need to learn about this some day, and this week, some day arrived.


Cat is an extremely energetic and patient teacher, and one gets the sense that she is a person who thinks about knitting constantly, creatively, enthusiastically, and is able to respect and appreciate mainstream or traditional methods while simultaneously breezing past them in about five different ways before lunch. This was a big motivation for me in taking her class, because I’ve gotten pretty comfortable in my current sock knitting methods and I would be disappointed to get so comfortable in my ways that knowledge becomes a barrier more than a support. I’m ready to expand my knitting brain a bit further, and I want to knit some of Cat’s awesome socks. And Cat will definitely lay some knowledge on you.


Her class took us through the basic approaches to the socks in her book, and things like the heel-turning, cast-on methods, and overall theory of sock construction that she relies on. There was more than one moment of “Ohhhhhhhhh” throughout the day, as we practiced on making teeny tiny little socks. Keri was quite taken with hers – SO CUTE, right?


Each sock demonstrates a key architecture from her book. I completed one during the class, started a second on the bus ride home, and when I got back I cooked dinner as fast as I possibly could (because don’t you hate it when meeting physical needs like hunger gets in the way of your knitting time), so that I could finish the second and then decide on a ‘real’ sock to start in on from the book.


Much of what Cat does relies on thinking mathematically in a way that frees you. Take these two wee toe-up socks, for example. They may look slightly different, but mathematically they are virtually identical. They are the same size, same gauge, have the same toe, same heel, and have the exact same # of stitches, round for round. The only difference is the location of the increases over the arch of the foot. And would you get this? According to Cat, you can put them anywhere. No really, anywhere. As long as you increase 2 sts every 3 rows, between finishing the toe and starting the heel, you are good to go. It is mind-blowingly true. And her book demonstrates several different different architectures based on this truth.

And so, I have begun a Real Sock after my bit of training yesterday – am trying out the Bartholomew’s Tantalizing Sock first, but I think I could have started with any of them. I am looking forward to seeing it take shape.


I’m also on cat-sitting duty this week, chez Beatrice, Ramona, and Halley, and wouldn’t you know it Cat’s socks are actually fully cat-approved.


Now if I can just figure out how knitting these socks will help me write my conference paper I need to do for next week, I’ll be golden. What do you think the chances of that are?

Catch you later as the adventures continue. Keep your knitting close by!


  1. tinebeest · ·

    Hunger getting in the way of knitting? I’ve been known to go hungry in order to knit, trying to avoid starvation by having the biccies nearby…

    Erm does you paper involve anything mathematical? Architectural? Socio-historical? If so, I’m sure you can bend the topic to sock-knitting. I’ve seen worse (and far less interesting) connections between the title and the actual paper 🙂

  2. Thanks for the class review! I’m trying to decide what to take at SS. Amazingly enough, it is right here in my home town. Cat? Cookie? Star? So many options; I hope they all exist when my registration goes in!

    You state the case perfectly: do I stay in my comfortable rut, or really try to learn something new?

  3. Ooh that does look like fun

  4. Good for you! I’m still just eyeing toe-up construction! Cat’s stuff looks very challenging.

  5. Ooo ahhh ohhhhh! I’ve had that book forever, but so often (I’m sad to say), the knitting happens at the point in the day when I cannot brain. ( Maybe this summer I’ll be able to use some of my brain-time to get started on one. I’ll look forward to seeing your full-size.
    You are so lucky to cat sit so often! This one’s pretty!!!

  6. wow, that class must have been amazing!!

    Glad to see Beatrice making a reappearance on the blog. 🙂

  7. The class sounds amazing & you are so lucky to be able to attend. I will do anything to learn from Cat Bordhi – maybe she will be interested in coming to Australia?

  8. I heard Cat speak at Stitches and she is everything you said. What an excellent way to spend your day. I bet the creative juices will flow for your paper simply by knitting those socks. 😉

  9. Si interesting to hear about your Cat Bordhi class. I have been meaning to get her book for the same reasons, to move out of my sock rut! So funny about the hunger thing, I do the same but inflict my speed dinners on the whole family!

  10. Lucky you! I would have loved to attend one of her classes.

  11. […] zipping through most of the body I gave myself a bit of a break, allowed myself to be distract by Cat Bordhi, even went off to a conference and attempted to do “real world” stuff of my […]

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