Music to Knit By:
Wren Ross's Greatest Knits

album cover

Many knitters—myself included—like to listen to audio books or music while they knit. Until now, those audio distractions tended to have nothing to do with knitting. But a CD from singer Wren Ross changes all this.

In addition to being a singer, actor, and voice-over artist, Ross is a seasoned knitting author and designer. She knows firsthand about the glories and frustrations of knitting, and she recounts them perfectly in song.

Very Punny
If the title weren't clue enough for you, this album is infused with a lighthearted sense of humor and whimsy. Ross makes ample use of puns and double entendres wherever she can. The one exception is her lovely rendition of Judy Collins' "Holly Ann."

You can order the CD directly from Wren Ross's Web site for $18, which includes shipping and handling. It has seven songs total and a running time of 19 minutes, far shorter than most musical CDs. But remember, this one is special.

The Songs
She begins with Isham Jones' classic "It Had to be You," which has been rephrased as "It Had to be Ewe," complete with "baaaa" sounds tucked in at discreet intervals. In the song, Ross makes her case for wool. "A llama or hare have fiber tres cher," she sings, "though acrylic is cheap, it puts me to sleep, it's for wool that I care."

Next, perhaps the most obvious spoof is "Ba Ba Blacksheep," Ross's sultry rendition of the classic with blues guitar accompaniment. (You can listen to an edited version of the song on Ross's site.)

The song begins innocently enough with, "Ba Ba blacksheep, have you any wool? Yes ma'am, yes ma'am, three bags full." But no knitter is satisfied with just three bags. "Ba ba blacksheep, three is not enough," she continues. "I am compulsive, I want my stuff!" Pretty soon there's no helping her. "I knit in the morning, I knit in the night, knit while I'm driving and I'm stopped at the light."

We've all been there.

In "I Will Knit for You," styled like a Parisian love song and based on the classic "I Will Wait for You," Ross boldly declares she will knit for her beloved. But (again, something we've all experienced) the project quickly becomes a source of frustration. In a fit of tears she finally gives up, concluding, "If you wait your life, I may one day be through."

And then there's "After the Ball is Over," a knitterly take on Charles Harris' classic "After the Ball." In this case it's about yarn, not a dance. "After the ball is over," Ross lilts, "after the skein is done. After the dye lot's finished, and you are short just one." She cuts to a frantic and unsuccessful phone call to her local yarn store. (Ross makes good use of her voice-over experience here.)

The orchestration in "Greensleeves" sounds sincere enough until you listen closely to the words. She's literally discussing green sleeves that are too big and must be ripped out. "I loved the yarn, green like a pea, green like a tree and a deep deep sea," she laments, "but now this sleeve is hyperbole, twill fit only the Jolly Green Giant, not thee."

Ross even manages to include a pattern on the CD. No, it's not on the liner notes, and it isn't a file on the disk either, it's an actual song. In "76 Stitches," a chipper march sung to the classic "76 Trombones," she marches you row by row through a hat pattern. But when she herself tries to knit the hat, she discovers the needles are lost under her bed and the yarn has been dropped in the toilet by her cat Fluffy. (Have I mentioned that Ross has a great sense of humor?)

Short But Sweet
Some self-produced CDs can be a bit amateurish and sloppy, but not this one. Production quality is excellent, and the musical direction impeccable. Ross's voice blends perfectly with her guitar, mandolin, bass, accordion, keyboard, and drum accompaniment—with more or less instrumentation depending on the specific track.

Ross hits each song head-on with the distinct vibrato and clear pronunciation of a musical theater veteran (which she is). Just a few songs have been enhanced with a background echo that doesn't quite come off right. But I still couldn't stop listening and longing for more.

If you enjoy music and long to hear lyrics that speak to your knitterly passion, this is the CD for you. It also makes a fun gift for the knitter who has everything.

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