We’ve just heard that one of Tom’s photographs has been shortlisted in this year’s EEF Manufacturing Photo Competition!

The theme of the competition this year is “Made by Britain, Loved by the World” and surely few manufactured products speak better to that theme than Shetland wool? A fibre raised and processed in a particular locale; which involves highly specialised skills to manufacture; and whose end products are rightly the focus of global admiration, emulation and renown?

Many of the specialised skills involved in the manufacture of Shetland wool have historically been, and largely remain, those of women.

Women like Elizabeth Johnston, whose small successful business, Shetland Handspun, thrives on the traditional skills of transforming fine Shetland fleeces into equally fine yarn . . . and then transforming that yarn, in its turn, into hand-knitted haps and hats, gloves and garments.

This is Tom’s image of Elizabeth’s hands spinning which has been shortlisted in the competition, and which will shortly go on display in Westminster, alongside images of manufacturing everything from steel to whisky, from ball grid array rework stations to the Ocado robots who pick and sort our supermarket shopping.

As well as loving the image, and feeling quite proud of Tom, most of all I am glad that Elizabeth’s extraordinary talents are being shouted about within a bigger manufacturing picture, and feel pleased that the highly-specialised, but frequently unsung, skills of women makers can be celebrated in this context.


41 thoughts on “Elizabeth’s hands

  1. Tom’s photographs are all winners in my opinion. And nothing says “Shetland” to me more than my friend Elizabeth at her wheel.


  2. ~Anything handcrafted today is almost a lost art in itself, my opportunity to share this with people anywhere, has done justice to the craft of such a profound giving of one’s talent to share with us all~ “)


  3. Congratulations Tom! You are a winner already. This honor shows that your photo has captured how significant the art of spinning, knitting, the raising of sheep and processing of wool was, and still is, to Britain. Good luck to you. I hope you win!


  4. Congratulations to Tom on a wonderful photograph. It really is stunning.

    What an interesting context for a photo about a handspinner. When I think of “manufacturing” I often think of machines instead of human hands but a number of your recent blog posts have shown how that is often not the case. It’s been enlightening and beautiful. As a handspinner myself I am fascinated by watching the motions of the hands of a master spinner. It looks and feels like magic at times but it is one of humanity’s oldest skills. So glad that Elizabeth and her hands are the star of this wonderful photo and that Tom’s ability in capturing that moment is being recognized in that group of photographers. Good luck!


  5. I always remember peoples hands … they express so much. Love this peaceful and beautiful note.
    Tom’s pics are a MasterCard moment .. “priceless”


  6. I took a photo of my mum’s hands which I cherish…women’s hands, particularly, seem so evocative of care and love and hard, hard work. Beautiful.


  7. Tom has captured both Elizabeth’s wonderful hands and also that somewhat magical instant when wool fiber twists itself in beautiful and useful yarn, guided of course by Elizabeth’s hands. Such beautiful photographs.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t know how you do it, but (almost) every time I read your blogposts I have a tear in my eye.

    Well done Tom! I keep my fingers crossed, that his beautiful capture of Elizabeth’s hands makes it to the podium.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Congratulations to Tom. You have received your well earned recognition. The depth of your skilled photos in your study of Elizabeth’s Hands is amazing. Your photos are “over the top!”.


  10. And hurrah for Tom’s photography! Without his ability to capture these images, these valuable and as you say unsung talents could go un-noticed and UN-celebrated. Many congratulations!


  11. Kate: Congrats to you and Tom! How wonderful to be shortlisted for this recognition. I love the depth of the black and white photo. Happy knitting, Heidi Cohen


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