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.


6 thoughts on “Music and Wintergrass and Knitting, Oh My!

  1. That’s an amazing sweater! So glad it isn’t black though. Where in Bellevue were you? I had no idea there was a Bluegrass festival in town or that you play the autoharp! What a fun thing to do on a very rainy day. It’s great to see you posting again.

  2. We have an autoharp, too. I had seen it at a garage sale when C was executive director of a camp and I thought it would be fun to have at camp. Six months later I knocked on the door of the garage sale people and asked them if they still had it. They did – at twice the price. It was still a good deal so I bought it. You’ve inspired me – need to get it out and tuned.

  3. Welcome to the festival. I’ve been going (and bringing my knitting) for 18 years. I think this was one of the best. Loved the Steel Wheels and always look forward to seeing and hearing Vasen. Happy knitting!

  4. That festival sounds like it was the perfect weekend! I had no idea you played autoharp – good for you to go out and have fun with it! (I’ve seen pictures of autoharps, but have no idea how to play one. I might have to go do some research…)
    Speaking of fun, that sweater looks like fun to knit. I do so love an unusual construction! Looking forward to seeing it when it’s finished!

  5. What fun you are having! Intrigued by that sweater enough to look it up on Ravelry. Would you knit it again? I haven’t knit in a few years except to dink away on some basic socks, but things are settling down now and I’m tempted to start something more complicated.

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