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Yarn: The Movie

Knitting is becoming hip. It’s no longer something for the elderly to pass the time, it’s done by men, by film stars, and used by artists. Knitting could become ‘the new baking’ in film and television – an ordinary activity that unites audiences across the generations and works its way into the mainstream. Because there is no doubt that knitwear means something to people (beyond keeping them warm). Sarah Lund’s jumper has become iconic in Britain since the first series of Danish TV drama The Killing, standing for ‘no-nonsense Nordics’, for the values of ordinary decent people. In Iceland, knitting speaks to the self-reliance of a people who have weathered the storm of the recent economic collapse. It is an activity and product that is at once intensely local and part of a global story.

The film is a journey with three main characters whose stories intertwine throughout the film, characters linked by their love of yarn and their creativity.

Olek (Agata Oleksiak) is a flamboyant Polish crochet artist. She exhibits in galleries but her main aim is to create monumental works in public spaces, using large teams of people. She is young, prolific, frank, attractive, and works at bewildering speed. Olek’s recent work includes a crocheted copy of her bedroom, with crocheted text messages detailing a relationship and split from a lover, a crocheted tank, and a rainbow display outside a St Petersburg shopping mall at the height of the protests against Russia’s anti-gay laws.

Tinna, from Iceland is part of the world of ‘yarnbombing’ or ‘yarnstorming’, which is street art mixed with knitting. There is an International Yarnstorming Day in the first weekend of June, where groups around the world ‘bomb’ their towns and cities with yarn covering statues, trees, anything in the public space, to reclaim public space through knitting.

Tilde is the artistic project leader of Swedish contemporary circus group Cirkus Cirkor. Their big show is called Knitting Peace which has toured throughout the Nordic region. It features circus performers, and giant piles of knitting. It’s an exhilarating performance. But it also has profound things to say about peace and conflict.