French blogger needles rich and powerful with knitted news

From a randy Dominique Strauss-Kahn to a diminutive Nicolas Sarkozy, a French blogger has become an internet hit by needling the rich and powerful with knitted dolls in sly recreations of the news.

Inspired by the sex scandal around former International Monetary Fund director Strauss-Kahn, knitting fan Anna launched the blog in the northern city of Lille last May and has since had more than 120 000 visitors to her site.

Nearly every week she posts knitted scenes from the news on the blog, called Delit Maille (Knitted in the Act), a play on the name of British tabloid the Daily Mail.

“It’s a way to make fun of something without being too cruel. Wool is soft, nice. You can say anything you want and it’s okay as long as it’s wrapped up in wool,” said Anna, a speech therapist in her 40s who preferred not to have her last name published.

Saying she did it “just for a laugh”, Anna posted her first knitted recreation on May 24, shortly after Strauss-Kahn was arrested in New York after a hotel maid accused him of attempted rape. The charges against him were later dropped.

She said she was inspired by a successful British book — Knit Your Own Royal Wedding — that was released to coincide with the wedding earlier this year of Britain’s Prince William to Kate Middleton.

Styled as an advertisement for a “recreation kit”, the post featured photographs of knitted dolls of Strauss-Kahn and the Guinean chambermaid, Nafissatou Diallo, in a variety of poses.

In one, the Strauss-Kahn doll is shown wrapped only in a bath towel while the maid recoils in horror. The Strauss-Kahn doll also features a removable suit.

“The reconstruction kit allows you to play out the different scenarios, to set the protagonists in the scene, to check your theories in a live simulation,” a post under the photographs said.

Not for sale
The blog was an immediate hit, with more than 30 000 visitors in the three days after the Strauss-Kahn pictures were posted.

Inspired by her success, Anna began knitting and posting pictures of other news scenes and the blog took off.

“I’m not a knitting fanatic, it just makes me happy to be able to do what I want with the characters,” she said.

Since the original, Anna has made more than 60 dolls and posted dozens of new scenes.

Another favourite with readers is of former Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi shown being warmly welcomed in France by Sarkozy during a 2007 visit.

The Gaddafi doll — featuring a tangle of black hair and pencil moustache — is shown with Sarkozy posing in front of the Eiffel Tower, enjoying a picnic and frolicking in a field.

Sarkozy featured again in a post earlier this month after he was interviewed on French television with US President Barack Obama during the G20 summit in the French city of Cannes.

Waving a small US flag, the French president is shown standing barely half the height of Obama and with his feet dangling above the ground from a chair during the interview.

Not every scene is political. Anna has also taken aim at popular culture.

In a post from October, a recreation of character Don Draper from US television series Mad Men is shown posing in a knitted suit, leaning back with a knitted cigarette and kissing a variety of knitted women.

Another post recreates US pop star Lady Gaga’s The Edge of Glory music video, complete with knitted versions of the singer’s raunchy leather outfit and silver-tipped boots.

Anna said the blog is taking up more and more of her time, especially as French political news heats up ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections next year.

“It takes at least six hours to make a doll, and then I set the scene. It’s a real part-time job!” she said.

But despite numerous requests and to the disappointment of fans, the dolls, she said, are not for sale. — AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Time is not on our side in Libya

Simmering tensions could see the country partitioned between east and west

Paris throws off mask to party like the virus never was

Social distancing and face masks were largely forgotten as thousands of French people danced and partied well into Monday in the first big blow out since the coronavirus lockdown

The statue of Louis XVI should remain forever handless

A statue of the French king in Louisville, Kentucky was damaged during the protests against police killings. It should not be repaired

Rwanda: Capturing a genocide financier

A Kenyan investigative journalist reflects on the capture of a genocidaire in Paris after 26 years on the run and its significance to the families of the victims left in his wake

Inequality manifests in stimulus

Structural forces mean emerging economies can’t offer the necessary Covid-19 fiscal-relief packages

World Cup review, Part II: The trials of group A and Bafana’s lasting legacy

With a world-class gauntlet laid out in front of them, could South Africa make an expectant nation proud?

New education policy on gender violence released

Universities and other higher education institutions have to develop ways of preventing or dealing with rape and other damaging behaviour

Cambridge Food Jozini: Pandemic or not, the price-gouging continues

The Competition Commission has fined Cambridge Food Jozini for hiking the price of its maize meal during April

Sekhukhune’s five-year battle for water back in court

The residents of five villages are calling for the district municipal manager to be arrested

Vaccine trial results due in December

If successful, it will then have to be manufactured and distributed

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday