Wednesday, December 28, 2011

KnitFlix: State Fair

I caught State Fair (1945) on Turner Classic Movies recently, and noticed that Fay Bainter’s character, Melissa Frake, was knitting in one scene. I’ve seen this movie plenty of times, but I suppose not since I’ve started knitting. Otherwise, I might have noticed earlier.

In this scene, Ma and Pa Frake are relaxing, high on their recent awards for their prizewinning mincemeat (Ma) and boar (Pa). Ma uses that dainty overhand pencil-holding technique that seems to have been how women learned to knit back in the day, and which I’ve seen in other films before.


Cultural note: I don’t think many women refer to their husbands as “gay dogs” in this day and age any more.

According to the IMDB, Fay Bainter had been on the stage since the age of 3, but she must have found the time to pick up knitting somewhere. She clearly knows what she is doing and is able to act at the same time. But I can’t figure out why she would want to knit a mile-long garter stitch scarf on such tiny needles!

If you’ve never seen this film, it’s kind of interesting. The Technicolor will make your eyes bleed, although it’s fun to see mid 1940s fashions in  color rather than black & white. The palette is pretty darn jazzy! And notably, this the only musical that Rogers and Hammerstein wrote for the movies. A newer version came out in the early 60s with Pat Boone and Ann-Margret, but that version was set in Texas, and although, as a Texan, I must say that our state fair is a great state fair, if the film isn’t set in Iowa, you don’t get to hear the film’s best song: All I Owe Ioway!



  1. I guess I need to see this version! And that pencil-hold is odd. My grandma, who was born in 1904, knit English-style, even though I'm sure she learned from her German mother. I wonder where the pencil-hold originated? (I feel research coming on....)

  2. I believe you have a new nickname, gay dog.