Cat Christine Ellen
Cat Christine Ellen (Chris McGlothlin) was born the eldest of two children. Her parents had each just returned from Vietnam—her father, as a Sgt in the Army, and her mother serving a year as a Red Cross volunteer. They moved within a few months back to her father’s home town, Akron, Ohio, where she and her sister grew up in North Hill. As a youth, Chris pursued a variety of musical and theatre hobbies, performing at Goodyear Theatre in Sound of Music at age 12, helping perform in the melodramas and medicine shows at the Yankee Peddler Colonial Days, singing with youth choirs and playing hand bells at High Street Christian Church, playing flute, piccolo, jazz piano, and xylophone in junior high and high school groups, performing in three high school musicals, and several All-City bands. In 1985, her Mom moved her and her sister to Southern California, where they completed high school in Santa Clarita. In 1986, Chris marched in the Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA in January, the Rose Festival in Portland, OR in June, and with the Velvet Knights Drum and Bugle Corps, at the DCI Finals in Madison, WI in August.
At University of California, Santa Barbara, where there were so many “Chris” students in the dorms that everyone got a new nickname, and she adopted the name “Cat” for the first time. In college, Cat was active in the local InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (GCF) and toured as a vocalist with the Continentals in Fall 1990 (Tour B, Bahamas). Also while at UCSB, she was first introduced to the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) in the Shire of the Isles, which served as a prominent hobby for decades. She earned a degree in Linguistics, and a wide-variety of business skills in odd jobs such as Inter-Library Loans, as a note taker for both Associated Students and the Disabled Students Program, and working for non-profits such as United Way Santa Barbara and Direct Relief International. Since then, Cat has worked in a wide range of jobs in publishing, technical writing, training courseware development, business analysis, and project management. And she can be found occasionally studying yet another language (just for fun), such as Spanish, Italian, Russian, American Sign Language (ASL), Mandarin, Hebrew, or Norwegian.
Post-divorce, she finally made the name change complete, taking “Cat” as her legal first name and moving all the other names “over one to the right.” In 1999, Cat first joined up with some musicians in Los Angeles, to form the band Forever Twelve. They self-published three CDs, on which Cat was featured as the lead singer, as well as occasional lyricist and instrumentalist. They performed a handful of live venues, including the international progressive music festival in Mexico, Baja Prog, in 2004. Cat retired from the band in 2012.
Much of Cat’s spare time was spent actively pursuing “history through hands-on participation” through the SCA, where she served as a local branch officer for over 20 years, in such offices as heraldry, the arts, president, newcomer’s, newsletter, and website development. You can find her throughout Southern California at events teaching spinning (from fiber to finished yarn), singing and composing, or helping with calligraphy.
Pursuing additional teaching opportunities for textile arts has meant greater involvement with the Griffin Dyeworks Fiber Frolics and Retreats. She helps staff the various annual events, usually found teaching spinning on drop spindle and serving “Coffee Bar of Splendoor.” She’s also the creator of the phrase “Crafty Meet-And-Greet” or #CMAG, encouraging folks to host informal get-togethers to continue supporting handmade textiles.
In 2010, Cat found the first thing to excite her as much as spinning yarn by hand, and started pursuing mastery of American Tribal Style® (ATS®) bellydance. Cat first found ATS in 2010 in Los Angeles. Enrolling first in one, then two, then as many classes as she could per week, Cat threw herself into learning ATS as quickly as possible. That first fateful class, she had only two thoughts the entire hour: “I have to teach this some day” and “When do I get to put my arms down?” After several years studying and two years performing in a student troupe, Cat branched out on her own to pursue certification from Carolena Nericcio, the founder of FatChanceBellyDance®. Cat earned her General Skills certifications in April 2013 and her Teacher Training in October 2014. She is a fully recognized FatChanceBellyDance® Sister Studio and ATS® Certified Instructor, and has been SSCE Re-Certified in August 2018. You can find her teaching in the Southern California area.
Photos (top to bottom): Out with family in 2008, Playing flute at Yankee Peddler Colonial Days 1980, Singing with the band 2005, in costume with the SCA 2006, in ATS costume in 2018