An Afternoon with Shamu Makes: Art Dyer

I had great craic yesterday with Karen of Shamu Makes. She was dying up lots of yarn, some for a very special charity, more of which later.
Karen’s yarns are all one-off art yarns. She will kettle dye about 4 skeins at a time, each a different base. In one pot yesterday, she had a regular sock, a sparkle sock, an alpaca aran, and a tweedy dk.

Karen dyes according to “what the pot tells me” which she hopes doesn’t make her sound barmy, but it’s a very fluid, unscripted process. She can’t repeat colour ways, because what goes into the pot and how she treats the yarn can vary in so many ways; depending on her mood, the light, how the yarn picks up the dye, whether the yarn goes into the pot first or last, how long it’s in there, whether Karen feels like it needs more colour and how that gets overlayed – dying again or syringed or speckled.

Yarns that come out of the same pot are called “sisters”; and they can be very similar, but no two are ever identical and colour ways cannot be repeated. Karen may dye several skeins of the same base together to order, but along the lines of “something in pink and green”, not “25% cerise and 59% pistachio with a marled effect”.

Check out the gorgeous two-tone effect in the foremost skein! These four are all sisters.
Karen was dying in pink and purple for a very special cause. Another member of one of Karen’s online crafting communities has tragically lost her baby after 23 weeks of pregnancy. Karen is organising a fundraiser for SANDS, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, by holding a raffle with her yarn and some other lovely bits as the prize. More details at

After a chat where karen and I decided we were both going to the Edinburgh yarn fest in March (Karen as a stall holder and me as a helper/designer/co-conspirator), we hung out some more yarn. Isn’t the pinky-purple-turquoisey-orangey one gorgeous? Believe me, those are colours I would never put together myself in a month of Sundays, but Karen seems to have the eye!

I left with one forlorn look towards the slow-cooker, where a navy and spring green confection was still bubbling away.
If you like the sound of Shamu Makes yarns, then you can get in touch with Karen through her facebook page or etsy shop.


I’m fiddling with the site theme

So you might see some changes over the next short while.

At the mo, I’m trying to get rid of the ruddy big “S” in the top left corner. I have NO idea what it’s doing there, except I think the theme is called “suburban” something or other. Argh. The css stylesheet is locked down unless I shell out $30 to get access to it.

How to get rid of the "S"?
How to get rid of the “S”?

Kaava is Hot Right Now!

I can’t believe it! So, so happy to announce that Kaava has reached #15 on the ravelry Hot Right Now list! Out of 127,977!

Kaava is Hot Right Now
Kaava is Hot Right Now

This is a huge “designer moment” for me, I thought I was at least 20 more patterns away from making “the list”. Seriously guys, happy, happy, happy dancing going on here.

Catchloops Update – And it’s also post #100!

Half the reason I don’t post as often as I should is that I feel like I must have pics every time I do. That’s another of the “golden rules” of blogging. 1) Post often, 2) Have pics 3) Be interesting. 3)’s kinda optional.

Of late, I’ve been working on a secret design for Knit Now 27; getting submissions together – can’t show you any pics of them either for much the same reason, and I have two designs in testing at the mo too. One of those (le sigh) is also secret, but the other is the Kaava Shawlette that I flashed the other day.

bottom_croppedThis is my first lace shawl and I’m going to release it just as soon as it’s tech-edited and tested. Could be as close as two weeks away or as much as a month, but either way looks like it’s going to be my next released pattern.

I’m stoked to say that the response to Kaava has been overwhelmingly good. The yarn is 100% blue-faced leicester, handdyed by a friend and member of The Harrow Knitters, Shamu Makes, who has a fab eye for colour. I made it originally to go with a purple dress, but actually, it looks gorgeous with turquoise. I blocked it really hard and it has graceful, flowing drape. The main stitch patterns in it are Stocking Stitch, Shower Stitch and Lacy Rib, and the crochet bind-off reminds me of castle crenels or cogs. Something very engineering-y, anyway :)

My next projects are lots and lots of proposals – sketching, swatching and specc’ing, but I do also has some more of my own patterns in the pipeline. I find it hard to prioritise my own patterns over everything else that needs to be done – any one out there want to be my drill sergeant?

I’m looking forward to the Summer holidays – I’ll be home in Dublin for a week in August, so I’d love to catch up with the Irish yarny world, aon sceal nua for me?

Hugs, and proud to get to post #100! (It’s the little accomplishments!)

x Elanor







I’ve updated my About page. It now looks like this.

Yours Truly

 Catchloops Headshot

Way back when, I trained to be an engineer. I helped out as a bouncer at Star Trek conventions (keeping the Klingons and Romulans apart was FUN), I read every Neal Stephenson and Lois McMaster Bujold book I could lay my hands on, I geeked out on the S/MIME protocol, I wrote online casino games and at one point I was team lead on The Lancet website. Then I got a life. Literally.

I taught myself to knit about 6 years ago when I found out I was pregnant. I had this vague, fuzzy picture of myself in a rocking chair, needles clacking away as the angelic child slept in a gauze-draped cot. Yeah, right. So I didn’t really knit again until baby #2 was on the way (when my head went all fuzzy again). That time it stuck, though. Probably because I joined an active and supportive knitting group, The Harrow Knitters. They’re the ones who introduced me to Ravelry. I just kept going, eager to discover new techniques and cool new configurations. Eventually I got to the stage where I knew precisely what I next wanted to knit, but couldn’t find a suitable pattern anywhere. So I just made it. And then, slowly, started writing the instructions down, and turning them into patterns.

Last March, I decided to really go for it and started submitting formal proposals to publishers. My very first one was picked, I was chuffed! Cue many months of frantically trying to MAKE what my head had envisioned. My brain was finally being used for something engrossing, not just entertaining toddlers.

Since then, I haven’t looked back. I have more patterns lined up for publishing in various magazines, and I’ll be releasing more myself too. I’ll put all the news right here on this blog.

Nowadays my favourite thing to do is sit in a Café with my gorgeous babies and people-watch together. We go on a Saturday after ballet while Daddy has a lie-in. They have babyccinos and I have a hot chocolate. There’s usually a biscuit too. We go home and bounce on the bed to wake Daddy and then we all have a “family hug”.

Elanor King: Innovative and Classy Designs.

Find me everywhere as “catchloops”

How You Doin’?

I’ve been up to no good! I have organised some tech editing on two more patterns and I have outsourced some knitting for the first time. I’m about 3 weeks away from releasing a dinky little hat and a great bit mofo of a blanket. I’ll give you a sneak peek of the blanket schematic:

can't tell you the name cos it's a surprise
can’t tell you the name cos it’s a surprise

I guess I could have just left it as a blank rectangle, but that wouldn’t have been very nice of me.
So, I’m VERY excited about things slowly, glacially, moving forward. I have the next 6 months planned out and they’re HECTIC. Expect the following:

  • Roxbourne hat, made from yummy, scrummy Fyberspates Scrumptious
  • Can’t tell you cos it’s a surprise for a friend blanket as schematic above
  • A multicoloured, fabulous, stash-busting marvel of a cowl/shawl/collar that I’m calling  Wildacres. Due November, it’ll look great over your clothes as a winter warmer. Here’s a pic of it in progress:
Wildacres sneak peek
Wildacres sneak peek
  • Then over the course of the winter, I’m aiming to get a boob-lovin’ tank sweater, some simple socks and an elegant little cushion out of my head and onto your needles. Fingers crossed, eh?

Cue little happy dance.

Luv ya! Happy knitting!