Knitting is no doubt a Scandinavian past-time. When we go to Scandinavia, we seek the traditional hand-made sweaters that are heavily decorated in either national patterns or snow-flakes and reindeers. It was only a matter of time before a documentary on yarn came to light, and with Yarn we are opened to a whole world that goes beyond the dorky Christmas sweaters.

The film by Una Lorenzen is not so much about the yarn itself than it is about how creative people are using it to materialise their ideas and agendas. Lorenzen travels around the globe from the wintery Icelandic setting as far as South America to explore how yarn artists are showing off their work as they talk about it and the material that they love.

In Poland we meet an artist named Olek who outfits performers in rather eery crocheted bodysuits, and in Japan we have Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam who has made a climbing apparatus out of yarn for playgrounds. We also have Tinna Thorudottir, who moved from Iceland to South America and is an ‘Icelandic yarn bomber’, a sort of graffiti artist who works in yarn.

The film touches on but leaves unexplored the idea that yarn is a largely feminine art form that unites women across cultures and continents. This is particularly surprising as all the artists it follows are women. The real focus of this film is that yarn makes for a more festival world. As a knitting addict I went into the film hoping for a history of the wool, but was instead met with young people doing far more creative things with the yarn than making wintery clothes, and while it wasn’t what I hoped for this documentary I was pleasantly surprised in the unique path Lorenzen took. It is definitely one for the creative minds.

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Emma Vestrheim

Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.