Monday, 11 February 2013

Knitting On and Off Camera

Image google "actresses knitting" and the search results will overwhelm you. In a job where many hours of a work day are spent simply waiting until the director summons you, knitting has long been the perfect movie set activity, because it's easily carried to work each day, can be relied on to involve as many hours of work as are necessary, can be picked up or dropped as needed, and won't mess up the actress's hairstyle, makeup, or costume. It's always been common and is popular even now: Cameron Diaz, Tyra Banks, Ryan Gosling, Hilary Swank, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, Kelly Ripa, Scarlett Johansson, Kate Moss, Kate Winslet, Debra Messing, Tracey Ullman, Uma Thurman, Russell Crowe, Christina Hendricks, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Antonio Banderas, Whoopi Goldberg, Stephen Fry, Tyne Daly, Judi Dench, Daryl Hannah, Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep, Dakota Fanning, David Arquette, Amanda Seyfried, and Julia Roberts are all reputed to be knitters, and I am sure that's only a very incomplete list. Some of these actors taught each other to knit: Kristin Davis taught Sarah Jessica Parker; Catherine Zeta-Jones taught Antonio Banderas (when he recovering from a knee injury); Julia Roberts taught both Whoopi Goldberg and Cameron Diaz.

Many a Hollywood actress has been captured on camera in the act of peacefully knitting in a folding director's chair, some of them so often that one wonders how they found time to act. Here are some of my favourites from the golden age of film. I'm sure you've recognized the above photo as being one of Katharine Hepburn, who need only put down her knitting to look ready for a Vogue cover shoot.

Bette Davis crocheting while her stand-in knits. Bette Davis was one of the constant knitters and crocheters — I must have come across at least a dozen photos of her so engaged while researching this post.

Audrey Hepburn knitting. Her character knitted in Breakfast at Tiffany's, but as I recall it Holly Golightly didn't seem to be more than a beginning knitter. Maybe Hepburn deliberately made herself look less skilful to suit the role, because you can tell from this photo that she does know what she's doing.

Grace Kelly was another seemingly inveterate knitter.

Mary Pickford knitting a sweater for the American Red Cross.

Sophia Loren, making knitting look mod.

Vivien Leigh, putting Laurence Olivier to good use.

Mother and daughter Vanessa Redgrave and Natasha Richardson enjoying a teaching moment. I love little Natasha's expression of tongue-stuck-out concentration.

If you want to see some more Kodak knitting moments, you can check out some online collections here, here and here. Or just google the word knitting and the name of your favourite actress or actor. You may be surprised.

Coming up: the Vogue Knitting Spring 2013 review is set to post tomorrow morning!


  1. That pic of Bette and her double is fantastic!

  2. There was a funny video/joke online a couple of years ago where Tom Hanks got the entire crew of a movie set to sit in a room knitting and waiting for Julia Roberts to enter. Her response was adorable.


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