Music and Wintergrass and Knitting, Oh My!

For years our friends Lorette (The Knitting Doctor) and her hubby, John, have been raving about the Wintergrass Bluegrass Festival in Bellevue, Washington. This year we decided to go, and the only question now is, "Why did we wait so long??" To say we had an incredible, amazing experience is a bit of an understatement. We started off the weekend with a performance by Trout Steak Revival (where DO they come up with these names?).


I really didn't attempt to get any more photos of the performers – in a dark concert hall it was impossible. They were absolutely wonderful and things just kept getting better. We discovered a new favorite – The Steel Wheels. They were full of energy and both the vocals and instrumentals were outstanding. I downloaded a couple of their albums from iTunes and listened to them all the way home. I got a chance to talk to their fiddle player, who was there with his wife. They were delightful! He told me that they are all family men and have nine kids between them and try to set up their tours so they aren't away from home any more than necessary. Seldom Scene was another new favorite. The interesting thing about this group is that they all have day jobs because they never wanted their music to be "work". I also loved Väsen, a Swedish group. I don't even know how to describe these guys – kind of a cross between bluegrass and classical? With three of them playing a viola, a nyckelharpa and a 12-string guitar, they managed to sound like a full symphony orchestra.

The concerts weren't the only fun thing about the weekend – Bill and I had fun jamming with other amateurs. We took a class in two-chord bluegrass songs.


Out of about 100 participants, I was the only autoharp and thought I would hide out in the back. But in the middle of the class, the instructor pointed me out and said, "We have an autoharp! I love autoharps!" Although we were definitely in the minority (probably outnumbered 500-1 by banjos, guitars and mandolins), I found the reception to be overwhelmingly positive.

Everywhere you went, there were jams going on in meeting rooms and hallways. We found a couple of jams that we could fit in with and we had a blast!!


There is a certain etiquette to jamming and you just try to blend in with the group unless the "leader" gives you the nod to take the lead. I got "the nod" at least three times during this jam!! I really felt like I had arrived, although pretty much everyone else was way, way more advanced. It was just a matter of finding the right jam. Bill and I discovered that some jams were more inclusive and tried to get even newbies like us involved, while others were led by people just looking for an opportunity to show off. You can guess which ones we looked for!

Oh, and did I mention the food?



Ok – true confession! This last photo was really not about Lorette and John but an attempt to "kinnear" Tim and Dan Lewis, local TV news and sports anchors. We actually got a chance to talk to Dan Lewis later on. He is retired now, but we watched him nightly on KOMO for probably 30 years!

Some knitting was accomplished. Lorette even managed to spin during breaks in the sets. I'm amazed at her ability to drop spindle in a crowd – I would have had that thing rolling down the aisle!


I'm afraid I didn't get much accomplished. I found a split stitch about 5 inches down in my sock. I tried laddering down that one stitch, but it looked so crappy, I ended up frogging down. So I actually accomplished negative knitting! Before I left for the weekend, however, I did get the body finished on Abby's Opposite Pole.


What an ingenious pattern! You basically knit a rectangular upper back section and the rest of the sweater is knit in a circle, attaching as you go. This picture was taken right before I joined the upper part to complete the circle. I tried it on Abby to see if it fit before I started the sleeves and it's perfect! The color in the picture is completely off – it's really a beautiful teal.

Progress has been made on the applique quilt as well as quilting on the kite quilt. Will post pictures next time.


Has It Really Been That Long?

I decided to check my blog today, thinking it had been a few months since I posted. I was horrified to see that it had been over nine months! Where does the time go? Over the months I've considered no longer writing the blog, but in looking back, it's as close to a journal as I'll ever have, so have decided to continue. 

It's probably fruitless to try and catch up on the past nine months, so I will just begin with where I am now. Last time I posted, I was working on the Tulip Quilt and have made sufficient progress on that. All of the blocks for the center are done and I'm working on the border. It doesn't look a whole lot different than last time, so I won't bother with pictures. I have, however, started a new quilt – Bed of Roses by Sue Garman. (Click on the photo in the link for a larger image). I had originally planned to do her Friends of Baltimore, but decided that might be a little too ambitious for my skill level at this point. Instead of red and green, I will be doing this in shades of blue. I am using the paper pattern pinned to foam core to pin on my pieces as I prep. I'm anxious to get sewing, but this gives me a chance to vet all the colors before going to all the trouble of sewing them down. First off – lots of little circles and stems:


To the right is a styrofoam tray with bias strips waiting to be made into stems and to the left is a little heart shaped box given to me by Mei-Mei where I keep all my little circles. Unfortunately, when she gave me the box it was empty, but oh well!

On the hand quilting front, I am working on my Aunt Gracie's Garden. This was from the Fons and Porter website and I utilized lots of fat quarters of 30's fabrics. I'm probably about halfway done with the center.


I'm going to be taking a break from this in order to quilt on a little baby quilt. I made this Windblown Kite Quilt by Susie Ennis way back in 1982 and gifted it to a friend's baby (who has since graduated from Harvard with an MBA – I like to think that my quilt had an influence in his development!) I liked it so much that a year or so ago I dug out the pattern and pieced another top. And now the time has come to quilt it.


I'm trying something new with marking this. Recently I was reading about Crayloa Ultra Clean Washable Markers.


Apparently they really do wash out and a lot of quilters are using them for marking their quilts. I did a test on the fabric I was using for the backing – I made a heavy "X" out of each color and washed the fabric. They did indeed come out. It was still with a lot of fear and trembling that I marked the baby quilt top. To my frustration, I discovered that I marked part of it wrong. This is not like the blue wash-out marker; it doesn't just disappear with a spritz of water, but needs soap as well. So – I tossed it in the wash with laundry detergent, and lo and behold! It came right out. Here's a close up of the marking (this time the wind is oriented correctly).


There are also knitting and music that have happened since last I wrote, but I'll save that for another post. Hopefully it won't be another nine months! For now, I leave you with photos of last weekend's snow camp at Tall Timber.