Knitwear in Scandi-Noir Thrillers

By Albina McLaughlin
June 1, 2018
Did somebody say "noir?" We love a dark crime story, especially if it has plenty of knitwear.

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  • Thank you! Fun article. And, I laughed out loud completely relating to “learning to knit in the improvised manner of Eastern European folk tradition…” Teaching my first workshop I was asked if one should slip as if to knit or as if to purl. Thinking to myself that was a ridiculous question, I remember answering that it didn’t matter as long as you worked the stitch as needed next time you get to it. Yes, I had to start knitting from patterns to understand…

    • At the moment I am forcing myself to knit a couple of my own patterns, verbatim, just so I can truly understand what it’s like. It’s amazingly hard, and I keep wanting to argue with the designer! :))

  • Terrific article – thank you! I’ve written down a few of the Scandinavian-noir I haven’t seen. The Killing (American style) is one I have enjoyed; my intro to Joel Kinnamon as well. I always figured Linden wore those oversized, Nordic sweaters as a type of psychological “protection”.

  • The sweaters in the US version of “The Killing” are made by Harley of Scotland and were sold by J. Crew.

    • Thank you, Lucinda!

    • Interesting! I tried to find this info and could not; thank you! Looking into it now, I see that a collection was indeed made by Harley of Scotland. But those are not the only ‘US Killing’ sweaters. There are several specific ones (I’ll try to post some links if this platform allows) which you can see are clearly hand-knitted, as the tension on the collar ribbing is uneven, or there are gaps showing at the underarms, as one would get from attaching the sleeves in the round… It occurs to me that Kristy Glass might be a good person to ask about this, as she occasionally features hand-knitters who work for television and movies. Surely someone will know!

  • Love the shows and following the handknits. Outlander is one of my favorites. And what about the Anthropologie throw in the American crazy runaway movie (I can’t remember the name but I have it half finished in a bag somewhere)

    • 😀 😀 😀

  • Can anyone identify the sweater-jacket worn by Lars Mikkelsen in The Team? It is grey, fitted, cabled, with a zipper, and I just love it!

    • I am thinking this needs to be a game show : ))

  • So cool ! Something new to check out ! But it brought back a funny memory of a poorly knit sweater that was sent to a friend to salvage. It had been knit in some awful yarn and the sleeves had been sewn in backwards so they reached up. This named the help sweater

  • Hilarious!!!

  • Thank you so much for the gun cozy from Strawberries and Crime. I have been knitting for 48 years and had a Scandi phase back in the nineties. Gotta run and knit a cover for my AK47 right away 😉 . You know what they say about us New Yorkers.

  • In the BBC’s “Shetland” (available on Netflix, at least in Canada) there isn’t as much Shetland knitting as you’d think. However, in the first 2 episodes of series 1, you can spot a couple of Kate Davies pieces!

    • I know! They started out well, but let the handknits dwindle over time.

    • Somehow I have not yet watched Shetland. Luckily, I have a project due that needs to be speed-knitted, so…

  • You know Ravelry will make a fake account for Sarah Linden now.


  • Now I want to see Inspector Norse!

  • My daughter and I are currently binging on “Shetland.” Oh, my. Knitted stuff all over the place. We will hit the pause button so we can get a closer look.

  • Awesome article! Now I have a new osession!

  • Love Fortitude! Looking forward to seeing some of these other shows and watching for knits!

  • Great, detailed analysis! My favorite line was early: “….oversized cardi so badly fuzzed and stretched out of shape that it surely was knitted out of alpaca…” Confirms my bias against alpaca!

  • Great article. Scandi-Noir Knitalong! Let’s go!

  • Thanks for a great article.I can’t wait to check out the Scandi-noir shows.

    To merge this theme with podcasts check out “Death in Ice Valley”a podcast looking into a 1970s unsolved murder by a BBC and Norwegian reporter.Fascinating and creepy— it.

  • I agree that the sweaters seem a little less “fitted and seamless”- in a non-literal sense- in the American version. I love her sweaters and how many she wears but it did stick out. I haven’t watched the original yet, but maybe it’s because in the American, almost no one else is wearing sweaters or knits like hers? Even her son and fiance, even background characters- no one is wearing as much knitting, at least not as outerwear, as she is.

  • Just finished hinterland on Netflix, set in Wales. Couldn’t help but notice all the hats & sweaters.

  • I love this! 😀

    Re: “The Killing” set here in Seattle — Yup, it’s quite possible that Sarah got her sweaters at a local “charity shop” (we call them ‘resale’ stores usually). We have sooo many, especially in Seattle proper. So it’d be easy for her to pop in and get 1. or 10.
    It’s not hard to find a hand knitted sweater in one of the shops, because this whole area is a hotbed of knitters.

    But it could also be that she’s a knitter, too, given all the knitting (and quilting) that goes on around here.

    Goretex and fleece are certainly the materials you’ll see here mostly (at least from November to June), but sweaters appear too. So it’s not odd that she’d be wearing them. (Tho’ I definitely did think: “Wow! where did she get that sweater?” a time or two.)

    I’ll definitely try to access some of the one’s you’ve mentioned. And “Inspector Norse”… bwahahahaha! If only that were available in some form to watch. 🙂

    • Yes I vote that Sarah wears her comfort like armour. And also gets the wool sweaters from thrift shops.

    • Good to know! I have also been told by a friend that Seattle has quite a large population of Danish and Norwegian origin, with whom Nordic style sweaters are apparently popular even if it does not otherwise seem to fit in with their ‘look.’ So… I don’t know, perhaps the directors developed American Sarah with greater coherency than I give them credit for. (Although I still prefer the version where she has a ravelry profile!)

      I am going to suggest that my nearest charity shop/ resale store, does a Scandi-noir capsule collection… They certainly have enough stock.

  • The DH & I have loved watching Fortitude. I have lusted after many a sweater, shawl or other knit object on that show. Months ago, I searched all over the internet looking for the shawls & cowls worn by Dennis Quaid’s wife in the 2nd season. I found the yellow one on Ravelry, but wonder if any of you know where any of the other patterns might be found.

    • Not a Nordic noir but the shawls in The Guardians, a French movie about women working a farm while the men are off fighting WWI are fabulous—especially the brown one worn by Marguerite. Does anyone have any idea how to get the patterns?

  • The BBC /Netflix program Land Girls has some fabulous knitting

  • Anyone notice what looked like a hand knit tam and scarf that Sandra Oh wears in Killing Eve? I tried to find it on line, but was not successful. I’d love to knit it.

  • loved your post, made me laugh. I love the iconic knits and am off to the Faroes in a few weeks to learn how to knit Faroese style, hopefully I will be able to recreate some fabulous knits for winter.

  • I have a challenge for the MDK group please:

    Watch the movie “Bokeh”. It’s set in Iceland, and in a scene or two the female lead wears a beautiful shawl – but I can’t quite figure out how it’s made. It looks knitted, but could be Tunisian crochet, or something else entirely.

    Fair warning, this is not a laugh riot movie. It’s a small film, quite compelling, about a couple who takes a vacation in Iceland only to wake up in their hotel room to discover all the people have vanished from the area. I found it compelling, but your mileage may vary.

    The shawl was *extremely* compelling. 😉

  • Top post! And watch Twin, Outlier and Trom, all with great knits..