10 Shetland Minutes

Take 10 minutes out of your day and watch this film, In Sheep’s Clothing. I can almost guarantee that you will have a new appreciation for the ease of our lives, yarn stores, ready to knit wool, and sheep.

It took some discipline to simply stop, slow down, and watch this film. I kept wanting to fast forward, but realized a few minutes in that I wasn’t watching facts or a “story”, I was watching a way of life from 80 years ago. I owed the filmmaker and the subjects the respect of watching and I’m glad I did.

A short description – crofters are seen gathering and then “rooing” sheep, carding and spinning the wool to make jumpers – and making a jumper, to order. “Rooing” is plucking. In one sweet shot, a woman seems to be comforting one of the sheep in the midst of the undoubtedly uncomfortable, if not painful, rooing.

It’s somehow both sobering and remarkable to see the work it took to get the fleece from the sheep, prepped for spinning, spun, then knit. The jumper order was for coloured yarn, but we don’t get to see the dyeing, unfortunately. It’s interesting, too, to see the women knitting so fast, standing, with one of their needles pushed up a sleeve.

Jenny Gilbertson Brown, a filmmaker in the 1930’s, created this “remarkable record of the sturdy sense of identity” of the working women of Shetland, with no budget, just “friendship and time”, according to Shona Main, filmmaker and artist in residence at the Shetland Archive.

Take the time. Watch it.

Thanks to mensatic and seeman for their sheep photos.


4 Replies to “10 Shetland Minutes”

  1. I’m just back from Morocco, where I was amazed to see that one of their “industries” was shepherding. On a day trip out from Marrakesh, we passed dozens of flocks of sheep tended by lone shepherds. The land is very arid and the shepherd was directing his flock to sparse patches of green where and when he could.
    Loved the film. We are spoiled!!

  2. Thanks Gayle – great film to watch! I learned a lot, and having returned to spinning a few years ago, I have a whole new appreciation of the making of yarn.

  3. That’s a lovely film. Thank you!
    I was interested to see the bobbin brake (“scotch brake”) on the spinning wheel running down from the bar across the tops of the maidens. It’s a limited amount of contact with the bobbin groove but obviously gave enough friction to brake the bobbin.
    Also wondered whether Mrs Jamieson was one of this family –

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