thinking about the next project

Earlier this year I made a post inviting discussion about my intention of doing a female version of the labours of the months embroidery. I won’t be starting it for at least two years as I have a little handbag project I want to do in between, but I’ve been mulling over the possibilities.

As far as possible I want to tie the female version in with the male, as eventually it would be nice to display them side by side. Also, the pictures often have to be symbollic, in that its not really feasible in the space available to portray every aspect of a particular activity.

This post, by the way, is mainly my means of storing my ideas, as if I write them down on paper I will surely have lost them by the time I want them. But feel free to comment if you have any better ideas.


Mr L – The Roman god Janus, looking both ways at the old and new years.

Mrs L – Spinning. This is, like many female labours, a year round activity, but I want to put it in January as it also alludes to the classical fates spinning the lives of men, thus tying in with Mr L.


Mr L – sitting by the fire keeping warm.

Mrs L – embroidery/sewing. Again, a year round activity, but one that was most likely often done by firelight in the colder months. I shall give her a fire, too.


Mr L – Pruning

Mrs L – working the kitchen garden. March is usually when I first start getting out and doing stuff in my garden.


Mr L – Gathering wild flowers

Mrs L – Since the flowers her counterpart is gathering could well be used for simples and medicine, I shall put nursing/childbirth here.


Mr L – Hunting.

Mrs L – I was tempted to have her hunting too, but I’ve decided she will be May Queen instead. Hunting is a pleasurable activity, and the May celebrations are also fun – also an important time for a young woman to hunt out a husband, so it sort of ties in?


Mr L – mowing hay

Mrs L – Animal husbandry (they’re the ones who will eventually eat the hay) Ideally I’d like to have her milking with a few chickens pecking around, mainly cos I like embroidering chickens.


Mr L – reaping wheat

Mrs L – will be doing the same, as I thinks its valid to point out that women, specially at harvest time, worked alongside the men.


Mr L – threshing

Mrs L – To be honest, I got a bit bored with June, July, and August being practically the same picture, and I don’t want to do it all over again. Besides which, threshing is mainly men’s work. Instead I shall have Mrs L doing the laundry, which I think is a far better deal. Spending time up to one’s knees in a nice cool river during the hottest month sounds much better than sweating away in the fields, even if the laundry is hard work too – and there’s plenty of sun in August to dry things out.


Mr L – Harvesting grapes.

Mrs L – brewing beer – our theme here is alcohol. Not sure what image to use, I might adapt one of those tippling monk images to feature a female dipsomaniac instead.


Mr L – fattening pigs

Mrs L – It doesn’t really tie in, but I think she’ll be doing her weaving – time to make warm clothes for the coming winter? Or possibly taking things to sell at market, not sure.


Mr L – slaughtering cattle

Mrs L – cooking, another year round activity, I know, but it amuses me to think of her making the pigs her hubby is killing into sausages.


MR L -toasting the old year (he will be drinking with a skeleton)

Mrs L – she was going to be feasting, but that’s a bit too close to cooking. Then someone at the IMC suggested making music (actaully she was quite insistent on a lady playing the bagpipes as that was her own instrument of choice, but I think music is close enough). Since December is the only month in the male labours to include two figures, I might echo it here  and have both a musician and a dancer.

~ by opusanglicanum on September 10, 2012.

9 Responses to “thinking about the next project”

  1. It sounds good so far, but I know from personal experience that ideas change between first thoughts and final work! It will be fascinating to watch these evolve.

  2. They all sound good. You covered all the ones I could think of. Although I first read June as ‘milking a few chickens’ and thought that would make an interesting panel.

  3. […] embedding links isn’t allowed today either. Aaaand I can’t cut and paste the linkWomen’s labours. Ok, that worked, does anyone else have this […]

  4. Sounds great to me, but I know from nothing. I would just like to suggest dairy-work, as in making cheese and butter and so on, as this was definitely something women did. But as I said, this isn’t my area of expertise and this is just an idea…. Best of luck, I shall watch with interest.

    • Dairying is implied by milking cows for June. Visually, including animals is better because picturing cheese would just be yellow cubes, which could be anything

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