My good friend Felicity Ford (aka Felix) is as enthusiastic as I am about Shetland and its wool industry. In 2013 (when she was patron of Shetland Wool Week) Felix worked on a number of field recordings for her important project, Listening to Shetland Wool. From the baas of lambs caught on the breeze, to the chink chink of needles swiftly knitting, from the noises made by a beloved spinning wheel to those of a hi-tech shima machine, Felix’s recordings really capture the way that wool is written through the Shetland landscape. Having enjoyed her recordings, I was very excited when she came up with the idea of combining Tom’s photographs and her sounds into a video celebrating Shetland Oo, and I think the result is really wonderful. . . with huge thanks to Felix and courtesy of the KnitSonik YouTube channel here is the video for your enjoyment!

The photos and sounds produced by Tom and Felix in this document include: Jan Robertson baling wool at Jamieson and Smith; Oliver Henry talking about grading and sorting wool at Jamieson and Smith, Ronnie Eunson’s sheep at Uradale; sheep near Nortower lodges, Aithsetter; Elizabeth Johnston handspinning; Hazel Tindall knitting with a belt; Kharis Leggate and Ella Gordon; Ina Irvine handspinning; Auctioneer and crofters at the Shetland Marts; and Shima knitting machines in the Textile Facilitation Unit at Shetland College, UHI.

While she was producing the video, Felix had a conversation with Tom about documenting and representing the work of Shetland wool. They have a really interesting discussion about the documentary and textural qualities of sound and photography, and you can read their conversation here.

Massive thanks to Felix for both the thoughtful interview, and the amazing video. The casebound limited edition of Shetland Oo has now sold out, but we still have plenty of copies of the softbound book in the shop.

28 thoughts on “sound and vision

  1. thank you for sharing. just seeing those fleeces and the fiber, made my fingers ‘itch’ to spin it. l also loved the sound effects which took me back to my childhood in spring time, when we shore our corridale sheep outside Paarl. their wool was not as fine to spin, although l did enjoy spinning it.

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  2. Superb! Thank you once again for all you do to provide us the experience of Shetland. One learns to love a place from afar and dream of visiting it one day…

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  3. Great video and blog. It’s brought back happy memories of a week spent at Ronnie and Sue’s lodge at Uradale and exploring Shetland mainland. I’ve used the Uradale yarn to knit your designs Kate and now I’m going to head over to your shop to order Oo. Thanks again for sharing.

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    1. When I was recording the sound with Elizabeth Johnston I said the same afterwards, and I seem to recall that she said “she’s purring like a cat” is a Shetland expression for a wheel that’s spinning smoothly… it really does sound like purring.

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  4. Hi Kate…great post..you are making such a relevant contribution to the Shetland wool history , the history of the island , and the people ,through your book with Toms photos and always through your knitwear designs…what would we do without you……hugs pat j

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  5. Kate, I feel that these blogs brings us together weather it be the act of forming a Knitted stitch, the design of a garment, the or the production or our raw materials. It makes me feel proud to be part of something so much grater than the garment currently on my needles. Huge respect to those farmers who raise the animals that provide our raw materials, the companies large and small who spin and dye and to the local yarn stores who showcase and sell to feed my habit. Respect to those who have gone before us to bring us the traditions we inherit and a whole heated thank you to those like Kate who record and share the knowledge. I am proud to be a hand knitter.

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  6. Is itpossible NOT to use paypal as I. have had problems in the past but would still like to order your shetland book .Thank you.

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  7. This is a wonderful collaboration of extremely tallented people. Through the years I have been able to learn so much from your blog. Thank you for sharing.

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  8. Thank you -this is absolutely beautiful. Hearing the sounds of Shetland is amazing. Thank you so much for this, I’ll be thinking of it as I knit.

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  9. Such a wonderful idea, you are such inventive and talented people. I too have shared it on my new blog The Textile Curve – I’m doing a foundation in Textiles at the OCA (at the same time as a degree in Design at the OU)! And we have to keep a learning blog to document what we are doing and what we come across. This seemed very à propos. (Sorry, shouldn’t be talking about myself…) I found the recording strangely moving, brought tears to my eyes for some reason…

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