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The world lost a feminist icon and a brilliant jurist with the passing of Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and just a day later the knitting world lost one of its own luminaries with the death of designer and creative genius Cat Bordhi.
Both of these deaths have made me sad for different reasons. With the loss of RBG, there’s the loss of a hero, a trailblazer, a woman who truly changed the world for the better in so many ways, and the true fear of what comes next.
Cat was such an innovator — if you’re not a knitter you might not believe it’s possible to discover or develop new ideas in a craft that is hundreds of years old, but you can. Her mind-bending designs literally gave knitting a new twist, and she clearly loved the playfulness of exploring and developing new techniques in yarn craft and sharing them with the world.
Our Legacy is What We Create
That both of these deaths happened the same weekend got me thinking about our legacy, and for me it really comes down to the idea that what you leave behind is the things you made. We are crafting a legacy every day.
Quite literally in the case of crafters, who leave a legacy of handmade items to pass along to others who we hope will share our stories. It’s the same with parents, who try at once to create our children in our own image (passing on favorite hobbies and interests, for example) while also trying to craft in them something better than we were able to achieve with our own lives.
RBG created legal precedent that changed lives for the better and brought the genders closer to equality. You’ve probably seen the meme that if you’re a woman who has her own credit card, could keep your job while pregnant or choose to go on birth control without your husband’s permission (among SO many other things) you owe it to RBG.
Cat created a beautiful, creative soul in her daughter and in turn in her grandson. She made her imagination real and taught the rest of us how to do the same. She made books and inspired others to self-publish their own creative projects.
The world is a lesser place without these women of spirit and strength in it, but oh the gifts we have received from them.
Craft as Memorial
I think as crafters we are often inspired to carry on the memory of people we admired by representing their life in our crafts.
Ironically the morning of the day she died I woke up thinking about how I wanted to knit a Dissent Pullover, designed by Andrea Rangel using RBG’s dissent collar as inspiration.
I thought it would be a great thing to wear on Election Day, and even more so now.
Of course Andrea isn’t the only one inspired by RBG in their knitting. There’s also the Knitorious RBG sweater from Park Williams, Carissa Browning’s Dissent Cowl and Max Pfiefer’s Dissent hat (and no doubt others I’m not aware of).
My Instagram feed has been full of crafted tributes to RBG, from quotes stitched on vintage hankies to paintings to knit, cross stitch and crochet projects.
That’s as it should be. I’ve been thinking a lot of the Carrie Fisher quote “take your broken heart, turn it into art.”
That’s what we’ve always done. It’s what we need to do now. (Not JUST art, obviously; also action. Vote like your daughter’s life depends on it.)
When it comes to Cat, she left a trove of creations for us to choose from. I just cast on a Rio Calina cowl, a ribbed project that asks the knitter to make cables randomly throughout the project.
Improvisation is not my strong suit. It’s really hard to just make cables every now and then without thinking about where I want them to be.
Cat’s still teaching me. To be patient, to loosen up, to be willing to see what happens. The forever reminder that it’s only knitting.
RBG, too. To stand up for what I believe in, to make sure her legacy remains for our daughters and their daughters.
Crafting a Legacy
My legacy is smaller by miles than both of them. I have the things I’ve made, the patterns I’ve designed, the education I have shared. The amazing daughter and what I hope is an example for her of how to love well in my relationship with her dad.
I have these words.
I hope I have a lot more time for making more, for sharing more, for letting RBG and Cat (and Carrie, and so many others) guide me to be more creative, more fearless, maybe even to inspire others to do the same.
What a legacy that would be.
How are you crafting a legacy?