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The Movie “Yarn” Threads The Needle Between Feminism, Fine Art, And—Why Not?—The Icelandic Circus

by Katie Wudel

June 22, 2016

In recent years, knitting has earned itself a twee reputation as the hobby of choice for a certain subset of young urban professionals. You know the ones—they look a lot like New Girl’s Jessica Day, and they don’t find the idea of purchasing Hipster brand yarn embarrassing in the slightest.

But the eye-popping new documentary Yarn—which made its debut at SXSW in March and heads to NYC’s IFC Center on June 24 before its expanded summer release—aims to set the record straight. Challenging the notion that knitting is a toothless pastime for the bored or matronly, the film follows daring artists, circus performers, and activists as they do unbelievable stuff with yarn in Poland, Italy, Canada, Iceland, Cuba, NYC, and elsewhere. Think building-sized crocheted structures modeled after spiderwebs, or acrobats soaring through the air with only strands of yarn to support them. 

For the casual viewer looking to zone out in an air conditioned theater on a hot summer day, it’s a light and airy diversion, jam-packed with more than enough weird, whimsical animations (not to mention yarn-tailed mermaids and street mimes in hot pink crocheted bodysuits) to keep you entertained. But director Una Lorenzen gives the film some unexpected teeth, touching on the history of women knitting in wartime and the potential of “yarn bombing” as political statement—as when graffiti artist Tinna Thorudottir Thorvaldar protests by installing “free speech crochet” art in Cuba.

In the clip below—exclusive to GOOD—artist Horiuchi MacAdam reflects on the reasons why women have been so intimately linked to knitting, weaving, and other fabric arts. 

Exclusive Clip Courtesy Yarn: The Movie

All images courtesy Yarn: The Movie

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The Movie “Yarn” Threads The Needle Between Feminism, Fine Art, And—Why Not?—The Icelandic Circus