Monday, October 1, 2007

First Monday in October

October 1. Yikes, the year is zooming by!

However, we did manage to make it all the way to October before turning on the heat for the winter. We're probably going to have to give in tonight. Passive solar doesn't work on cloudy, windy, chilly days. Another cold front is due to arrive tonight. Warm shawls and cuddly cats only go so far.


This doily was called Blätterspitzen in the issue of Lena magazine in which it appeared. (There's an umlaut over the a -- blatterspitzen -- in case it decides not to show up for some reason.) I have it in a couple of other formats, though it does not have a name in those versions. The Lena magazine even credited it to Herbert Niebling. I had wondered about that. The doily contains several stitch patterns and motifs that Niebling often used, but in a format that wasn't definitively his. I didn't know if it came from his design house or if it was a pastiche, created by someone who wanted to design something in a similar style. It's good to see a definitive credit.

Every version of the doily I've seen is slightly different. Maybe the center is a little different, maybe a chart symbol was interpreted differently, maybe the cast-off was different. The photos that accompany the patterns are sometimes different from the charts! I find this fascinating. Is there some Ur-Blätterspitzen in some old, obscure, very out-of-print source, and all of the more modern republications re-interpret it? Or were several slightly different versions of the pattern sold to different publications, and the newer versions simply republish from the original source they have rights to?

My version is different from the published version, too. The original pattern (all versions) finished with several rounds of stockinette stitch. I decided to quit at the last non-stockinette pattern round. If I had planned ahead, I could have done it more gracefully, but I like it well enough the way it is. Another minor difference is my use of directional double decreases instead of only using the one called for in the chart. (Someday I'll blog about context-based stitch variants for chart symbols.)

The Blätterspitzen doily was a summer KAL project on one of the lace mailing lists. That was a fine excuse for me to do it. If you look around, you can find photos of this doily in a lot of blogs and websites. After Lena published it (in the 09/06 issue, I believe), a lot of people knit it. One of the KAL people is putting together a blog to record the KAL and display pretty pictures. Once it's up and running, I'll share the URL for it.

I like seeing how different people have approached the pattern. It looks great with the stockinette framing. Different people used different materials and gauges, blocked it differently, and so on. One person didn't like one of the motifs and substituted a totally different one. Her version is lovely, too. No one chose to use thick yarn or twine and do it as an area rug, alas. I think it would work well for that.

Blätterspitzen means something like leaf tips or leaf lace. There are a lot of doilies with similar names. It's hard to come up with a good, unique, descriptive name for a doily. Some doilies have several names, while others have none.

My photo is somewhat out of focus. Drat! What I like best about it is the differing textures of the different motifs, and the way that the shapes combine and seem to intersect each other.

It was fun to knit. If you've never knit Niebling patterns before, you'll find it educational. The doily is almost like a series of mini-lessons on Niebling techniques. It's not a good doily for a beginner, though any determined knitter could accomplish it. It's a nice challenge and a good learning experience for the intermediate doily knitter. An experienced doily knitter will enjoy encountering familiar motifs in an unfamiliar arrangement. Fun and excitement start very soon after the cast-on.

Now I get to cast on for the list's fall KAL, the Frosted Ferns doily. It's another Niebling pattern, larger than Blätterspitzen. I'll cast on sometime this week.

In a somewhat related rant, I am finding it more and more difficult to acquire good doily-knitting threads from local sources. Even places that carried them a few years ago no longer have anything finer than #10, if they carry them at all. Soon I'm going to have to do an internet order to replenish my stock of certain thread sizes. This is too bad. I like being able to fondle the stuff in person, admiring the colors as I make my selection. I like being able to patronize a local store. Oh, well. Doily-knitting is an odd little perversion. Perhaps the local population isn't quite enough to support the market. I could probably find a decent source if I were willing to go 50-100 miles from home. However, at some point, the costs of sales tax and gas prices and driving time each way versus shipping costs and one-click shopping from home make it an impractical choice.

I'm going to use DMC Cebelia #30 cotton thread for this doily. My stash choices are light blue, dark red, and ecru. I'll probably choose ecru. The brighter colors I have don't seem quite right for a doily with leaf and acorn motifs. I think one 50g ball of #30 should work. It's between 550 and 600 yards. I don't feel comfortable with #20, which is somewhere between 400 and 500 yards. If I were to do this as a shawl (it's big enough for a small shawl!), I'd want 800-1000 yards of sportweight yarn.

I'll blog my progress here as well as on the mailing list where the KAL is taking place. I don't usually take part in KAL's, but I make an occasional exception for doilies.


Elizabeth said...

That's a lovely little doily. I'll be looking forward to the gallery of variations.

Marie said...

Lovely doily, jp! Explain the needle size. I've never heard of size 14 knitting needles. I was almost tempted to knit this after seeing your link, until I saw the needle size.
The doily you sent me years ago is still proudly displayed.

The Doily Underground said...

Thanks for the nice comments!

Needle size: old patterns use different standards, depending on the country. I haven't figured out some of the old German ones yet, for example. The thread descriptions are equally ambiguous.

For the English-language patterns, you can usually subtract the English size from 14 to figure out the equivalent American size. So, a size 14 needle would be an American #0, or a 2mm needle.

Luckily, doilies are not all that gauge sensitive. I usually ignore all the recommended thread and needle size info, and use whatever I'm in the mood for. After a while, you get the hang of which size needle goes with which size thread for your personal knitting style and lace fabric preferences.

Hmmm... thanks for giving me yet another good idea or two for a future blog post. Old needle sizes verus modern sizes, and how to choose a suitable thread/needle combo for a pattern.

Jane said...

Your doily is wonderful! I am not very far along yet on my Frosted Ferns but it's a nice relaxing knit. I live near Berkeley so I get almost all of my threads from Lacis. I never have been able to find what I need at other local shops so I'm lucky to have this source where I can actually see the threads/yarns. Hope you find something near you.

The Doily Underground said...

Thanks, Jane! I like the beautiful things on your blog, too.

I'm still in the early stages of the Frosted Ferns doily. I agree that it's a nice relaxing knit. Except for the part where my cat bonked my hand, I lost some crucial stitches, and decided to start over after my first three repair attempts didn't work. C'est la vie.

You are indeed lucky to live near Lacis. They carry an awesome selection of stuff.

If they still carry Lavori #11 and Muestras y Motivos Tricot Hogar #1, you should buy them while you can. Do you have the Japanese reprints yet? They're very expensive, but very beautiful.

Internet mail order is my friend. The nearest place that carries a reliable selection of obscure books, thread, and supplies is probably close to 100 miles away.