by Lynn on May 11, 2019

in The Passionate Playgoer








Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr., Toronto, Ont.

Co-written and performed by Kirk Dunn

Co-written by Claire Ross Dunn

Directed by Jennifer Tarver

Saying The Knitting Pilgrim by Kirk Dunn is a play about knitting is as much an understatement as saying Gateau St. Honoré is a simple dessert.

Kirk Dunn was first an actor who began knitting he says to pass the time while touring in a van with other actors. A recent newspaper article said he began knitting to impress a girlfriend. Whatever. He learned how to knit and became good at it.

When Kaffe Fassett, master knitter extraordinaire came to Toronto Kirk Dunn’s wife Claire suggested Dunn meet him and perhaps offer to apprentice with him. This came to pass. Dunn’s work became more colourful and intricate. Again, Dunn’s wife Claire suggested he take his knitted work to the Textile Museum of Canada.  This brought him to the attention of Nataley Nagy the Past Executive Director of the Textile Museum of Canada. She said his knitted work was a work of art, almost like an expressionist painting. She suggested he knit something that says something about the world. That was the birth of his triptych of tapestries—three panels that illuminated aspects of Judaism, Christianity and Islam—the commonality and differences of the faiths. The panels are about 11’ x 7’ and it took him 15 years to knit. They are astonishing.

Through Dunn’s one person play he shows the audience how to knit, from making the stitches both pearl and knit, casting off and knitting. His manner is mild, thoughtful and inquisitive. He is self-deprecating, personable and full of charm. He comes from a long line of Presbyterian ministers. His great grandfather was a minister. His grandfather was one. And his father is one. Kirk Dunn became an actor. Go figure. But religion is part of his life as is faith and compassion. He researched all three religions to be able to create an accurate work of art. He read widely. He tried to answer religious intolerance when he came face to face with it. And all the time he knitted his tapestries.

Jennifer Tarver has directed this with sensitivity, never getting in the way of Dunn and his storytelling, always enhancing it with a movement across the stage here, the projection of an image there. There are baskets of balls of wool and knitting needles and the audience is invited to know.  This is a ‘play’ you want everyone to see for his persistence and his devotion to such a worthy project.

Unfortunately it plays only for three performances over two days, May 11 and 12. The last performance is May 12 at 6:00 pm.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Davis February 10, 2023 at 12:03 am

I was underwhelmed by Mr. Dunn’s performance. His contention that truth is really relative & if people of three major religions Christianity, Islam & Judaism could just forget about truth and play nice together we could all sail off into the sunset as one big happy family!

I thought some of what he said was somewhat over simplistic his tapestries were quite good but the themes were very basic & to me not that impressive. His heart is probably in the right place. Maybe knitting socks sweaters & other items for the homeless would be more productive!


2 Davis February 11, 2023 at 8:53 pm

On further reflection the best book I ever read proving Jesus Christ is the Incarnation of Truth was Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. He contends that you cannot say Jesus was a “great guy” with a few good ideas but He IS either the embodiment of truth or he is a complete madman. ( I am paraphrasing here ) .
To say I am the Way the Truth & the Life OR I am the Son of God is either true or not true. I believe it to be true.

If you have not read this book I would recommend it.


3 Paula November 9, 2023 at 8:37 pm

Will this show come to the United Sates.
I would love to see it here.


4 Lynn November 10, 2023 at 9:35 am

I have no idea….I’ll try and find out…..
Lynn Slotkin


5 Lynn November 11, 2023 at 9:58 pm

I believe the Knitting Pilgrim will reach out to you himself with any news of a US tour. He does do a conference in St. Louis in Jan. Not sure that’s helpful. Lynn Slotkin