In 1846 Madmoselle Eleonore Riego de la Branchardière put out a small book of knitting, crochet, and netting patterns. Inside were the very first (published) Irish Crochet patterns. In the world of Victorian needle work, Mlle. de la Branchardière was a superstar. She made crochet lace fashionable with the Victorian ladies of England and that kept many a Irish family fed during the the Great Famine of 1845 to 1852.
It was a time when fashionable ladies wanted to be seen with their needlework. Mlle. de la Branchardière helped make that happen. She did just about every kind of needle work there was. In fact, she is known for more than just Irish crochet. She is also the mother of modern tatting. She published 13 books on tatting alone. She published 72 books total. She owned a “fancy warehouse” in London and counted the upper crust of society among her students.
Basically she was the cat’s ass in lacemaking.
Eleonore Riego de la Branchardière was born in 1828 in England to an Irish mum and a French dad. She took to being called Madmoselle de la Branchardière. It was very fashionable to be French in England those days. She published her first book, the one with the first Irish crochet patterns, at the age of 18. (Its cited all over the internet that she was 12 years old when she published it but… 1846 -1828 = 18. Math. Its your friend.)
So I decided to try one of her Irish Crochet patterns. She was popular in her time for making lace simple and do-able. How hard could it be?
Here is one of her “Six Round D’Oyleys”. It doesn’t look much like a modern pattern. It doesn’t tell you to join at the end of the rounds. It doesn’t tell you how to make the first stitch (like “chain 2” or “standing double crochet”). It doesn’t tell you what stitches are repeated. If you take a closer look at those instructions, when you end a round, you won’t always be in the right place to start the next round. And its written on old-English-pattern-ese.
Looks like fun right? Right!
Here I go:
(A translated version of the pattern is included below. There is plenty of room for individual interpretation so please consider this to be my version of the Scollop D’Oyley by Mlle. de la Branchardière.)
- plain = single crochet
- treble = double crochet (to Americans anyway)
- Join all rounds with a slip stitch
- When needed, slip stitch to the right place to start a new round
After the 5th round I had this. Not bad.
Another thing to keep in mind is that I’m using worsted weight yarn (Cascade 220) and a Size G hook (4 mm). No self respecting Victorian lady would make this pattern with worsted weight yarn! They would use a teeny tiny thread and the hook to go with it. Specifically, Mlle. de la Branchardière recommends “Boar’s head cotton, No. 16, or Berlin wool”.
But I don’t do thread crochet if I can help it. I have a deep and unshakable belief that thread crochet will make you go blind and crazy. I’m loopy enough already.
So I pushed ahead with my thick wool. After the 11th round I had this. I thinks its lovely. Nice pattern Mlle. de la Branchardière.
There is a 12th round but I didn’t like it. I tried it a few different ways but in the end I pulled that back. I like it as it looks after the 11th round.
The original Scollop D’Oyley pattern with my extensive notes:
sc = single crochet (double crochet if you’re in the UK)
dc = double crochet (treble crochet is you’re in the UK)
Make a chain of 9 stitches. and join with a slip stitch to work in the round
1st round—1 treble, 1 chain, in every stitch.
Chain 2 (counts as a dc), chain 1, *1 dc, chain 1* in each stitch (9 dc & 9 chain 1 spaces). Join with a slip stitch.
2nd round—2 treble, putting the needle through the chain of round before, 2 chain.
1 Slip stitch, in first chain-1 space: chain 2 (counts as a dc), 1 dc, chain 2 *in all remaining 8 chain-1 spaces: 2 dc, chain 2. Join with a slip stitch.
3rd round—3 treble in the chain of last round, 3 chain.
2 Slip stitch, in first chain-2 space: chain 2 (counts as a dc), 2 dc, chain 3 *in all remaining 8 chain-2 spaces: 3 dc, chain 3. Join with a slip stitch.
4th round—5 treble in the chain, 2 chain.
3 Slip stitch, in first chain-3 space: chain 2 (counts as a dc), 4 dc, chain 2 *in all remaining 8 chain-3 spaces: 5 dc, chain 2. Join with a slip stitch.
5th round—7 treble in the chain, 1 chain.
4 Slip stitch, in first chain-2 space: chain 2 (counts as a dc), 6 dc, chain 1 *in all remaining 8 chain-2 spaces: 7 dc, chain 1. Join with a slip stitch.
6th round—10 chain, miss 7, 1 plain in the middle of the 7 treble in last round.
5 Slip stitch, *chain 10, skip next 7 stitches & sc in next* repeat to end. Join with a slip stitch.
7th round—1 treble, 1 chain, in every stitch for 8 stitches, miss 3.
Chain 2 (counts as a dc), chain 1, *dc, chain 1* seven times in 1st chain-10 space. Skip sc from previous round and *dc, chain 1* 8 times in each remaining chain-10 space. Join with a slip stitch.
8th and 9th rounds—1 treble, 1 chain, miss 1.
Chain 2 (counts as a dc), chain 1, *dc in next dc from previous round, chain 1* repeat to end. Join with a slip stitch.
10th round—3 plain, 6 chain, miss 5.
Chain 1, *sc in next chain-1 space, sc in next stitch, sc in next chain 1-space, chain 6, skip next 3 dc from previous round* repeat to end. Join with a slip stitch.
11th round—1 chain, miss 1, 1 plain, 1 chain, miss 1, 6 treble.
Chain 1, *skip next st, sc in next st, chain 1, 6 dc in the chain-6 space, chain 1* repeat to end. Join with a slip stitch.
12th round—1 treble, 1 chain, miss 1.
Didn’t do it.
Want to know more about Mlle. de la Branchardière? Well I found that she entered a crochet piece in to The Great Exhibition of 1851. The Great Exhibition took place in Hyde Park, London, from May to October in 1851 and it the first of many more World Fairs. Mlle. de la Branchardière work is noted as entry 17 in the Tapestry, Carpets, Floor Cloths, and Embroidery category.
17 Riego de la Branchardière, Eleonore. New Bond St. Inv and M??? – Crochet work. Flounce, imitation of Spanish point lace. Design, in silk and gold, for Prayer-book covers
I wonder what it looked like. It must have been amazing because it won the prize medal.
4401 Riego de la Branchardière, Mdlle E. – Crochet and other lace. For the skill displayed in the successful imitation of old Spanish and other costly laces
And I can’t find a picture of it anywhere. I guess that flounce, and the pattern to make it, slipped away into history. Such a shame. But that’s why it of vital importance for bloggers like myself to play with yarn and old pattern books and make doilys. We don’t want to be loosing anymore of our crochet history. I hope you will give the Scollop D’Oyley a try.