"Knit me a muffler," Gary
Merrill says dryly to Bette Davis as their characters
say good-bye at the airport in All About
Eve. Knitting references and knit
garments often appear in films, along with knitting
characters ranging from a blind grandmother
(Cowards Bend the Knee) to an expectant grandmother (Bend it Like Beckham),
from a scheming gambler working war relief (Mr.
Lucky) to a scheming femme fatale on trial
(Chicago). But spotting knitting on-screen
isn't as fun as knitting off-screen, and watching
films can also be a great time to pull out your
own needles -- you can double task while you
relax with two comfort activities at once. If
that's not enough to entice you, consider that
knitting while you watch movies can also be
a way to venture into new knitting territory.
The right movie and knitting
pairing can help you get more invested in your
selected film and more creative with your knitting.
You can get great design ideas from films or
just get in the right mood with a period film
or experimental video. Of course, many great
films are terrible for knitting because they
demand you do nothing but watch, and I've tried
my share of ill-fated combinations...thrillers,
subtitled, and silent films are generally not
good bets. But since I went back to school for
a graduate degree in Cinema Studies I've spent
many hours watching films, and I'll admit I
may have become just a little obsessed with
the search for good knitting and film combinations.
The seven suggestions compiled here should help
knitters of varying tastes and skill levels
find success with movie-knitting, as well as
inspire your own ideas and future combinations.
So next time Merrill makes a crack about knitting,
you can throw your needles at the screen. Or
just start knitting him a muffler.
Three Coins in The Fountain
(dir Jean Negulesco, 1954)
So-called "women's films"
from the 1930s through the 1950s are great for
double tasking with knitting for a few reasons:
they generally have straightforward storylines,
the stars' coordinated fashions will give you
lots of gendered retro design ideas, and when
you're confronted by unbearable messages or
plot twists you'll be glad you have something
to do with your hands.
Like many of the intriguingly
paradoxical films of this genre, Three Coins
in the Fountain focuses on strong independent
female characters that are rendered suddenly
helpless at crucial moments, and it suggests
that every girl dreams only of marriage and
male attention while still demonstrating the
significance of women's friendships and affection
for each other. Filmed on location in Italy,
Three Coins is a lighthearted selection
from this genre that follows three heroines'
different approaches to landing a husband, as
they toss coins and wishes into the Fountain
of Trevi to the tune of the popular title song
(sung by Frank Sinatra).
When I'm in the mood for one of these films,
I like to knit something old fashioned and hyper-feminine.
Try some homemaking decor like a table runner
with ribbon flowers. Or knitting a soft scarf
and hat set with silk ribbon threaded through
will make you feel like you're one of the cast.
By Brakhage: An Anthology
(dir Stan Brakhage, 2001)
Brakhage and other avant-garde filmmakers
pioneered textural techniques like painting
directly on the film stock and scratching the
film's emulsion to create frames of color and
design. You can use the films in the compilation
By Brakhage: An Anthology as a catalyst
for working creatively with color and thinking
unconventionally about your materials. For Mothlight,
Brakhage assembled objects from nature onto
clear tape the same width as 16mm film and projected
it to make the final prints, and for The
he hand painted each frame of the six minute
film (that took him over six months to complete).
These films might make you look for unexpected
objects to work into your knitting or try knitting
each of your stitches in a different yarn. You
might also pause one of the films on an image
you like and recreate it in a knit art panel
a la fiber artist Debbie New. Look for the two
short films mentioned above as well as Stellar,
Commingled Containers, Black Ice, and Window Water Baby Moving. If you want to try using text in your knitting, be sure to see I...Dreaming.
These mostly silent films can also be perfect
ambience for spinning or experimenting with
Try using yarns in your stash for a stitch sampler
scarf to play with different stitches and the
way the textures juxtapose. I tried one in Noro
Kureyon using single rib, horizontal double
rib, and cartridge belt rib and it gets lots
3. Hollywood Glitz
The Busby Berkeley Disc
This strange DVD is really
the bonus disc in the recent Warner Brother's
box-set release of The Busby Berkeley Collection,
but in some places it's also available for rent
on its own. It's a collection of 20 song and
dance scenes from early Hollywood musicals that
feature Berkeley's signature choreography using
chorus lines of leggy women in kaleidoscope
designs and extravagant camera moves from atop
cranes or shooting through studio-made waterfalls.
Watching this parade of dance, you don't really
have to follow a story and it's kind of like
an audio-visual mix tape for knitting. The images
will get you thinking about unusual shapes and
glamorous trimmings for your projects. Be sure
to look up for "Shadow Waltz" to catch the segment
with neon-trimmed violins. And "By the Waterfall"
is a jaw-dropping number with dozens of identically
clad women frolicking in a water fantasy.
You'll want to work with luxury yarns and novelty
embellishments, maybe adding some fluffy cuffs
made from eyelash yarn to gloves and a hat.
Or watch the scenes to get great ideas for 1920s
and '30s bathing suits and hats.
The Point (dir Fred Wolf,
The Point was television's
first animated movie-of-the-week, featuring
Fred Wolf's beautiful and influential free-form
animation and based on musician Harry Nilsson's
concept and hit songs. It aired on ABC in 1971
with Dustin Hoffman as the narrator and it's
now available on VHS and DVD with Ringo Starr
narrating. Written with an anti-discrimination
message, the script doesn't condescend or make
saccharine moments out of young Oblio (voiced
by Mike Lookinland from The Brady Bunch)
and his search for his point in life.The story
is quirky and funny for all ages, and the dreamlike
musical interludes are good for knitting and
will encourage kids to draw.
Finger puppets! The whole family can be involved
in picking out character details from the movie
for ideas to bring your puppets to life, like
adding hair, hats, arrows, and mustaches. Kids
can help prep puppet eyes and hair or draw their
puppet designs while they watch.
Naymark and Ariane Ascaride in Sequins.
Courtesy of New Yorker Films © 2005
Sequins (dir. Éléonore
Although you'll have to follow
subtitles unless you speak French, this film
is a natural fit for knitting -- maybe because
director Faucher was inspired to make Sequins
while darning a sweater her mother knitted.
It made this list because the embroidery the
two main characters create will have even embellishment-shy
knitters reaching for beads, sequins, and ribbon.
As Claire, the film's teenage
protagonist, deals with an unplanned pregnancy,
she finds an escape in her passion for embroidery
that leads her to seek work with a successful
but troubled fashion embroiderer. She covers
her growing belly with cozy sweaters and a flattering
lacy lime green sweater dress that will make
knitters' hands twitch. The film's rural setting
and slow pace will appeal to those who wish
they could live on a farm and knit fresh from
If you're worried about following the subtitles
while you're knitting, watch this film while
your newly knitted bag is felting in the wash
and use the film to start designing the embellishments
6. Free Love
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
(dir Paul Mazursky, 1969)
In this funny film, two couples
confront the sexual attitudes of the 1960s.
Elliot Gould is terrific along with co-stars
Natalie Wood, Dyan Cannon, and Robert Culp.
I was surprised this movie was a good one for
multitasking because there are so many subtle
looks between actors, and the photography is
stunning. Still, it works well because it moves
at a casual pace and much of it takes place
in living rooms and bedrooms until you feel
as if you're all living together and you can
pass in and out of the lives on screen. Let
this film keep you company on a late night or
spring-cleaning day. It's great for organizing
your yarn, needles, and projects, or doing the
blocking and finishing you've been putting off.
If you don't want to organize and you're watching
in a group of more than one knitter, make a
dent in your stash instead and try a Free Love
Scarf -- pass the knitting from one person to
the next while each adds a row or two of leftover
yarn from other projects. The only question
is who gets to keep the scarf, but no one said
sexual (or stash) liberation came without problems.
Pump Up The Volume (dir Allan
You've probably already seen
this end of the '80s film about a messed-up
high school and the young shy-by-day but rebel
ham radio DJ-by-night (Christian Slater) who
activates a youth rebellion. But rewatching
movies can be a great way to relax and a great
time to double task. In Pump Up The Volume
, teen angst, an '80s soundtrack, punk styles,
and DIY attitudes will help you get up the nerve
to unravel that sweater you want to alter, cut
off the sleeves and reattach them to a different
sweater, or otherwise refashion your wardrobe.
Have friends bring over a knit item they don't
like anymore, then watch this blast from the
past and chop up, unravel, reknit, and reattach
until everyone's got something they like better.
Pump up the volume, start ripping, and "knit