As I mentioned yesterday, I spent last weekend in Tacoma at Wintergrass, a fantastic bluegrass festival, where the traditional definition of bluegrass is stretched far beyond the comfort zone of most purists.
It was amazing to see the Sheraton, where the Madrona Fiber Arts Retreat was held just three weeks prior, so utterly transformed by a vibrating horde of musicians and music-appreciators. And much like Madrona, it is entirely possible to rub elbows with the superstars of the bluegrass world wandering through the hotel lobby. Sophie talked to her hero, Kristin Andreassen, clogger extraordinaire, accomplished guitarist and one of the g’Earls in Uncle Earl.
My father grinned and chuckled most of Friday night at the sight of us contentedly knitting away in the half-light of a bluegrass concert. Apparently, there is an album called The Three Pickers which features the legendary Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs and Ricky Skaggs; he called us “The Three Knitters”.
I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than knit while listening to live music. For three days, we sat two rows from the stage, off to the side, where we could hear the chatter between the musicians that was too soft for the mikes to pick up, where we could see the guest performers getting ready backstage, where we could see the techs fumbling with the lighting boards and where we could knit for hours at a time.
Odd as it may seem, we were not the only knitters at Wintegrass. I happened upon Linda in a back hallway, trying to rearrange some stitches that had wandered away from her needles in the dim light. The ability to knit by touch is a valuable skill at this sort of event.
Then there was Lorette, the talented Knitting Doctor. I spotted her standing towards the back of the Pavilion, the biggest concert venue, last year when I attended Wintergrass for the first time. She was absently knitting socks while watching the concerts. She was also wearing Rogue. It caught my eye last year, and there she was again this year, wearing Rogue. This is the sort of pattern that would normally make my head turn, but when I happen to be working on it…
I muscled up the gumption to walk over and introduce myself. As I admired the cables and fondled the world’s softest yarn, Beaverslide‘s mulespun McTaggart Tweed, Lorette told me that she knit that version of Rogue at another wonderful event, the Darrington Bluegrass Festival (incidentally, I’ve knit three sweaters, and a bag with this yarn; it is the softest wool I’ve ever handled). My mother and I have both knit at Darrington, which led me to think that I bet there are a lot of closet bluegrass fans out there who just need to hear our rallying cry: “Bluegrass Knitters Unite!”
PS. In case you are interested, we loved Uncle Earl, Crooked Still, Captain Gravel, True North, The Greencards and Lee Highway. My dad said Chris Thile was fantastic, but Sophie couldn’t stay up that late.