Knotty Theater

Longtime Dallas arts writer tackles love and knitting in debut play

Longtime Dallas arts writer tackles love and knitting in debut play

Editor’s note: Longtime Dallas arts writer Elaine Liner, whom we are honored to call a CultureMap contributor, sent out a press release today about her solo comedy, Sweater Curse: A Yarn About Love, which debuts at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe next month. We figured the only proper thing to do is share the announcement precisely as she made it — third person and all. There are few — if any — who can write it better than she can.

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“Yes, I know that ‘sweaters’ are ‘jumpers’ in the UK,” says Dallas critic and playwright Elaine Liner. “But if I’d called my play Jumper Curse, everyone would think it’s about suicides.”

Liner’s solo comedy, Sweater Curse: A Yarn about Love, debuts at this summer’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe at 1:15 pm daily, August 1-26, at the Sweet/Grassmarket Theatre, Edinburgh, Scotland. The Fringe is the largest theater festival in the world, founded in 1947 by a group of artists presenting shows around the edges of the Edinburgh International Festival. This year’s festival is spread out to more than 200 venues around the city.

 “These days journalism is a tough way to earn a living. So I knit to relax. Also, I knit so that I do not kill.”

Funny stories about her loves of knitting, great literature (that mentions knitting, like The Odyssey and Macbeth), old movies (in which Bette Davis knits), and men worth knitting for (or not) are woven together in Liner's 55-minute comedy. Knitters and crocheters are invited to bring their projects and continue stitching during the performance.

“Where else can you knit during a play?” says Liner, who invites audience knitters to add rows to her “traveling scarf” at each show.

After nearly 30 years of full-time journalism, Liner dealt with newspaper staff downsizing and salary cuts in 2012 by turning to her favorite hobby for stress relief: knitting. The idea for Sweater Curse came during a Google search for free sweater patterns. The term “sweater curse” popped up. Definition: the old wives’ tale that says you never should knit for one you love. He (or she) will leave before you finish the project.

“I instantly thought of all the times I’d tried to knit for boyfriends,” says Liner. “I have a lot of lumpy wads of unfinished knitting — all symbols of lumpy, finished relationships.”

Inspired by the writing of Nora Ephron and Dorothy Parker, and the self-deprecating comedy of British actor-writer Miranda Hart, Elaine Liner finished her one-act in 2012 with the goal of producing and performing it herself in the 2013 Fringe.

“It’s not that I always dreamed of being onstage,” she says. “But I’m a storyteller, and this is my story. These days journalism is a tough way to earn a living. So I knit to relax. Also, I knit so that I do not kill.”

In preparation for the big trip to Edinburgh, Liner has knitted and crocheted all of her costumes, props and scenery pieces — an estimated half a million stitches in all. That includes more than 3,000 tiny crocheted hearts; each audience member receives one at the end of the show.

“I can't wait to get to Edinburgh,” says Liner. “My theater is across the street from a great yarn store.”

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Follow Liner’s road to the Edinburgh Festival on her play’s Tumblr page or on Twitter at @TheSweaterPlay. Tickets for Sweater Curse: A Yarn about Love are ₤8 (discounts available) at the door, or purchase advance tickets online. Twofers, August 5-6.

Elaine Liner
Elaine Liner is the theater critic for the Dallas Observer and a regular CultureMap contributor. Photo by Daylon Walton
Sweater Curse by Elaine Liner
Sweater Curse, written and starring Elaine Liner, debuts at Edinburgh Festival Fringe August 1-26. Photo courtesy of Elaine Liner