"Clever." This word is a common theme when Melanie Gall speaks of her life, those in it, and how she chooses to spend it. "It's interesting musically, because it is both simple and clever."
Gall is speaking of the songs in her original musical, "More Power to Your Knitting, Nell!", making its stop in Madison, Wisconsin on Saturday, January 12. The show is being sponsored by the Madison Knitter's Guild and will be held at the Bishop O'Connor Center in Madison at 2p.m. and 7p.m. The show lasts approximately one hour, and is comprised of music about knitting from the first and second World War.
Melanie and her sister, Deborah, have both been knitting for the better part of 25 years, with one more obsessed than the other. "I like knitting the occasional hat," says Melanie, "but I end up knitting quite a lot because of the podcast. There is no escaping it; I live with a crazy-obsessed knitter," she says of Deborah. Both sisters learned to knit while growing up near Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in the Girl Scouts. They know how to crochet as well, but while their mother's love is crochet, their podcast and Melanie's one-woman show is focused on knitting.
With regard to the Savvy Girls podcast, Deborah pitched the idea of a podcast to her sister, and she eventually won Melanie over with the idea. "The first one was pretty bad," says Melanie. "We had a script and the sound was not quite right. But we found that people were listening, so we kept doing it." The podcast is now three years old, and despite the travel and occasional clash of schedules, it shows no signs of stopping.
Melanie, also a professional opera singer, travels approximately six months out of the year with her tours and gigs. Music about knitting turned into an obsession gone quite right. "There are all of these songs about knitting from the first and second World Wars, and some even as far back as the Civil War, so I got a grant from the Canadian government to record some of them." In all, fourteen songs from the first World War era were recorded, and they can be found on a compilation called Knitting all the Day. The CD version is currently creeping its way into local yarn shops, but can also be purchased at cdbaby.com, Amazon.com, and iTunes.
The show in Madison is a special treat because it is not part of the regular tour. "The Guild invited us to speak [at their regular guild meeting] on January 14, so we thought, 'If we are speaking to 500 knitters, then why not do the show as well?'" says Melanie. The most recent Festival tour ended in Seattle in September, and with another stop in New Orleans in November and the stop following Madison scheduled for Minneapolis, Melanie is thankful to have a home base on the Upper West Side in Manhattan with her sister. "We have been living there together for about four months," she says.
After Madison and Minneapolis, Melanie will be traveling to Prague in the spring for a tour, and she will also be bringing her one-woman show to the United Kingdom. "Knitty.com gave the CD a great review, so next is to record the songs from World War II," says Melanie.
Tickets for "More Power to Your Knitting, Nell!" can be purchased at the door for $12.50, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the podcast, please visit the Savvy Girls website. With piano and drums as background music, this is one of very few chances to hear the songs about knitting from this era, giving an insight to how knitters were seen at the time. The podcasters who are bringing you this music are just showing yet another creative outlet to the world, and sharing it in a way that keeps people interested.
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