May 2, 2010

Sheep to Sweater Sunday n° 39 : "Women, Sheep, & Shearing"

De la Toison au Tricot n° 39 : " La Femme, les moutons, et la tonte ... "

Since the dawn of time, a very important bond has existed between sheep and man. Sheep were one of the very first animals domesticated by man, providing a source of meat, milk, and of course wool. Additionally, the importance of this special bond between sheep and humans is seen in the many sheep metaphors that can be found in literature, religion, and politics. Think about the 23rd Psalm (“The Lord is my shepherd ...”), Panurge’s sheep in the writings of Rabelais, and of course black sheep in the world of politics.

Depuis l’aube de la civilisation, il existe un lien très profond entre l’homme et le mouton. Un des premiers animaux domestiqués par l’homme, le mouton sert comme source de viande, de lait, et bien sûr de laine. D’autres part, l’importance de ce lien particulier entre ovins et humains est mise en évidence à travers de nombreuses métaphores ovines qui se retrouvent dans la littérature, la religion, et la politique. Pensons, par exemple, au 23ème psaume de David (“Le Seigneur est mon berger ...”), aux fameux moutons de Panurge chez Rabelais, et aux moutons noirs de la politique.

To a certain extent, the bond between man and sheep is even closer when it’s a question of the link between women and sheep. It is often the shepherdess who watches over the flock. Moreover, for centuries, it’s been women who have been in charge of spinning wool into yarn, either with a spinning wheel or a hand spindle.

D’une certaine façon, cette relation ovine-humaine est encore plus étroite quand il s’agit du lien entre la femme et le mouton. C’est très souvent la bergère qui surveille le troupeau. Surtout, depuis des siècles, c’est la femme qui est chargée de transformer la laine en la filant, soit au rouet, soit au fuseau.

Jean-François MILLET (1814-1875), a French painter from Normandy, is well-known for his painting “The Gleaners”. Millet’s paintings depict scenes from rural French life and a number of his paintings testify to the special bond between women and sheep : for example, “The Shepherdess with her flock” et “The Spinner”.

Jean-François MILLET (1814-1875), peintre normand, est surtout connu pour son tableau, “Des glaneuses”. La vie paysanne s’avère le sujet favoris de Millet et à travers plusieurs de ses tableaux, il témoigne de ce lien privilégié entre la femme et le mouton : par exemple, “Bergère avec son troupeau” et “La fileuse”.

As shearing time is just around the corner, I would like to share with you an engraving of one of Millet’s paintings entitled “Sheep Shearer” which was published in 1862 in Le Monde Illustré.

Aujourd’hui, comme le moment de la tonte s’approche, j’aimerais bien vous proposer une gravure du tableau de Millet intitulé “Tondeuse de Moutons” qui a été publié en 1862 dans Le Monde Illustré.

I really like this picture. To be quite honest, I have always thought about shearing as a “man’s job”. Nonetheless, as Millet shows, it’s in fact the woman who is holding the shears!

Je trouve ce tableau très sympathique. Pour être honnête, j’ai toujours considéré la tonte plutôt comme domaine de l’homme. Pourtant, comme le montre Millet, c’est bien la femme qui tient les forces.

I have just started shearing.
What a beautiful reward for a spinning shepherd!

Chez moi, la tonte est commencée.
Quelle belle récompense pour une bergère-filandière!

White fleece : Caramel
Toison blanche : Caramel

Grey fleece : Jasper
Toison grise : Jasper

Brown fleece : Mac
Toison brune : Mac


fleeceloveandhappiness said...


Diane said...

Thanks Traci!
I'm really excited about the fleeces this year! They are so pretty!
The only problem with such small sheep, is that the fleeces are small too. I feel lucky if a fleece weighs more than 2 pounds!
Thanks for coming by!

Pat said...

I just want to thank you for such an informative and beautiful blog - and thank you for the wonderful translation too. You have put a lot of time and energy into this website!
I am preparing my 1st fleece - and appreciate the wealth of information here - thank you!

Diane said...

Pat, Thank you so much for your kind words.
Good luck preparing your first fleece. Even though it can be quite a bit of work, it's very rewarding to begin with the raw fleece. Over the years I have come to enjoy the fiber prep just as much as the spinning and knitting. .... hum... perhaps I should blog about the ZEN of fiber prep .... now that's an idea!
Best wishes,

Felicity Ford said...

Thank you so much for providing those Millet painting links! I am reading about Millet at the moment, as I love his work.

But I had never seen these images by him and they are especially lovely.

Thanks for sharing!

Diane said...

Thanks Felix! I'm a big fan of Millet too. I find his work to be very touching. I particularly like the painting "shepherdess with her flock" ... something so lovely about this young woman knitting & watching over her flock.

pip said...

Those are beautiful fleeces :)

Thank you for visiting the Spinning Shepherd!