Skip main navigation

Hurry, only 10 days left to get one year of Unlimited learning for £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Women’s Work: Knitting in Shetland, 1800-2000

Professor Lynn Abrams discusses gender and women’s work through a case study of kitting in the Shetland Isles, 1800-2000.

In this video, Professor Lynn Abrams discusses gender and women’s work through a case study of kitting in the Shetland Isles, 1800-2000.

Lynn explores the importance of knitting within the context of Shetland society, one dominated by women due to high levels of male migration, absence and death at sea. She explores the gendering of knitting as female, and how it was undervalued, underpaid and associated with leisure rather than highly-skilled work. Yet, as Lynn shows, knitting was an essential economic lifeline within Shetland with an enduring cultural and gendered legacy.

Task

Watch this broadcast from 1964, where Cathal O’Shannon discovers the intricate gossamer shawls of Unst, and answer the following questions: https://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/shetland_shawl_knitters/zff27nb

  • Were the women of Unst fairly compensated for their work on these shawls?
  • If not, what can this tell us about gender and how women’s work was viewed in past and present societies?

Comment below

This article is from the free online

A Global History of Sex and Gender: Bodies and Power in the Modern World

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now