Sorry, guys, I can’t seem to get back on a decent sleeping schedule. It’s affecting my ability to focus. All I want to do is sleep…
Anyway, design news:
11 days until the Bastet pattern is for sale and 23 until York goes up! My testers are awesome, but we all knew that. If you didn’t, check out one of my previous posts. I have praised them effusively in the past and am likely to do so again.
Progress of sorts was made on the design in progress that I started before the Conference. By progress, I mean that I almost completed the toy’s head, looked at it, put a stitch marker to hold the stitch, and went and crocheted a whole new head. Both heads are living in my project bag as I make up mind which look I like more. I’m leaning toward the second head, but only time will tell.
I’m so excited that people like the crochet fun facts posted last week, I’ve decided that if I have some brain power and nothing exciting designing-wise to share, I will end up sharing some crafting fun facts. Because I’m nerd that way. And I already had these two books hanging out in my room anyway:
Might as well take advantage of having these (awesome) books, right?
So I’m going to pull a little tid-bit from the first book, A Living Mystery: The International Art and History of Crochet, for today’s post. Per this book, crochet was kicking around in the 1800s, but developed quite rapidly from 1830 and by 1850 had become a recognized art form. Then in 1851, an Exhibition of the arts featured an award-winning crochet dress by Mlle. Eleanor Riego de la Branchardiere. (A Living Mystery: The International Art and History of Crochet, pages 12-13) I have posted a picture of Mlle Riego de la Branchardiere’s dress below:
And that is where I will digress — on Mlle. Eleanor Riego de la Branchardiere. In my quick attempt at internet research, I was not able to find any definitive biography on this lady. Apparently she was quite influential for crafting in her day, publishing several books. But I had difficulty nailing down an actual biography. I couldn’t even find a biography listed on the almighty amazon.com. She’s not even on Wikipedia. It’s like she never existed!
I did find some sparse facts about her, however. The Crochet Guild of America declares that Mlle Riego de la Branchardiere was an expert in her time (the mid 1800s) and that she published more than a hundred books — many of which were about crochet. (source) According to one source, I found, Mlle Riego de la Branchardiere was a tatting legend and had already published her first book, Knitting, Crochet, And Netting, in 1846, at the age of 12. (source) Unfortunately, I am unsure if this site’s source and cannot vouch for its veracity. A different source states that Mlle Riego de la Branchardiere most likely was 18 when the book was published (source), but regardless of her age, it was quite a feat. Though I am uncertain of Mlle Riego de la Branchardiere’s age at the time of publication, I can state that such a book does exist and that it is available via amazon.com (for free) and also in pdf form on the online books page.
Also, in the online books page, are others of Mlle Riego de la Branchardiere’s books, if you enjoy looking at pattern books from the mid 1800s. These books are free pdfs, though if you search out Mlle Riego de la Branchardiere on amazon.com, others of her books can be found.
There is not much other information available on this lady that was apparently very influential in the crafting movement (though apparently she was known more for her tatting than for anything else). Fellow blogger, joannamann of the blog KnitDiss, has written a post on this topic as well, and focuses a little bit more on Mlle Riego de la Branchardiere’s tatting. One little fun note is that in the 3rd page of the Abergeldie Winter Book, Mlle Riego de la Branchardiere is stated to be “by special appointment Artiste in Needlework to H.R.H. the Princess of Wales (source), who at that time would have been Alexandra of Denmark. (source)
So, yes, consider this your history lesson. Crochet is quite old — and we haven’t even scratched the surface of when it all began! I hope that you enjoyed this little foray in crochet history. I don’t know if they crocheted toys the way we do back in the 1800s, but it’s kind of cool to see that crochet, knitting, and tatting were alive, well, and flourishing over 150 years ago. And for those patterns to have survived — it blows the mind!
One has to wonder if Mlle Riego de la Branchardiere ever imagined that her patterns would still be admired 150+ years later. That is a cool legacy.