Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Tale of Three Doilies

And they're all pink. How odd. I guess it's not really all that odd. I made the doily above from a brand new ball of DMC Cebelia #20. There was enough thread left over to make a few more small doilies.

The first doily, in all its poorly-blocked glory, is a Herbert Niebling pattern. It's roughly 82 rounds. I don't think it has a name. It certainly didn't in the pattern source I was using! The flowers look a bit like tulips, so I often refer to it casually as the tulip-like doily. The flowers look more like campanulas or penstemons, some kind of bell-like flower. In any case, they were very interesting to do. The stamens near the top of the flowers are defined by a wrap stitch. That's the first time I've encountered a wrap stitch in a Niebling pattern! I have since done others.

The pattern is not attributed to Niebling, but it contains a lot of his characteristic quirks. The hex mesh background, the floral motif, the way the different stitch patterns are used for textural contrast... Who else would have designed it? (That's an honest question, by the way. I'm always interested in learning more about other doily designers and their design styles.)

As usual with Niebling patterns, it was a fun knit. There were a few rounds that didn't flow as well as they could have. Most of it was very nicely put together. It's not the best knitting or blocking I've ever done, alas. The blocking can be fixed, but I'm stuck with the uneven knitting. Oh, well.

The second doily I knit, from the leftover pink thread, is Kinzel's Coronet doily, from the First Book of Modern Lace Knitting.

If you've gone through the archives for this blog, you'll see an off-white Coronet in my first post. I like the pattern, so I've knit it more than once. The Coronet pattern is a typical small Kinzel pattern, very elegant and restrained and with a whole lot of stitches. It has 46 rounds.

After this doily was finished, I still had thread left over.

So, I knitted up a quickie pattern by Erich Engeln. This one is the descriptively-named #9F. It has 42 rounds.

OK, it's not a descriptive name. Engeln patterns usually do not have names. Those of us who own the pamphlets call them by their pamphlet name. This is from pamphlet #9, and it's pattern F in the pamphlet. It's small but cute, perfect for the amount of thread I had left.

There was thread left over after this one, too, but I decided that enough was enough. It's in my crocheted-snowflake stash. After that, it will go into the weaving/braiding stash.

Anyway, one rather interesting thing about all the above doilies is that they all use the same hexagonal mesh lace pattern as a background lace stitch.

What's really interesting is that each designer uses a different method to increase in pattern.

Niebling uses many different kinds of increase methods, depending on the pattern. Some are clunkier than others. This one is both elegant and simple. The edges of the hex mesh, where it butts up against the tulip-like flowers, start and end with double yarnovers. This sets it up perfectly for the next round. It's all hex mesh -- either \OO/ or O/\O. It starts with one double yarnover and goes from there.

Kinzel's is almost as elegant. It has a kludge or two at the beginning. It starts with a single yarnover and works its way up to a (yo, k3, yo). The next round, which is the real start of the hex mesh, is slightly asymmetric in order to get to an even number of stitches.

Kinzel uses (yox2, k1) at the edge of each hex mesh section. (It finishes with a k1, yox2.) The middle part is all \OO/. The double yarnovers plus a single knit stitch allow the hex mesh section to grow effortlessly. But it is different from Niebling's version. And the first couple of rounds are not as seamless as Niebling's beginnings.

The Engeln pattern uses yet another method. The first round is a single yarnover. Then, he goes immediately to an even number of stitches by doing (yo, kp in stitch, yo). His way of increasing in hex mesh varies. The ones used for the patterns in this pamphlet are similar. The increases at the sides will be single yarnovers. The following round twists the yarnover (yo, k-tbl, yo). After that, he'll use single knit stitches at the edges instead of decreases to keep the pattern flowing until there are enough stitches for the full \OO/ pattern repeat. And by then, he's starting to develop the next set of increases.

I know that what I really should do is scan all three charts, and excerpt the small areas that demonstrate the differences. However, each pattern uses a totally different chart style! It's hard to follow unless you're already familiar with those charting styles. Someday I'll try to chart up the three different chart sections to show you the three different methods these designers used to increase their sections of hex mesh lace.

So, can these kinds of differences be used to identify the designers of unattributed patterns? Yes, I believe so. It's not definitive, but it's one more bit of evidence that allows us to infer the designer's identity.

Someday, I may design my own complex lace patterns. Should I choose to use the hexagonal mesh stitch pattern, looking at the way other designers do it will help me to develop my own style.

These are the kinds of things that fascinate my doily-obsessed mind. The doilies were fun to knit, too.


robert d said...

I always run for cover when a woman whips out a doily. I know I am way out of my element and all I can do to save some face is to say..

If you did the doilies in the last entry, well done. One way of banishing distractions is to pay strict attention to detail.

Busy hands are happy,


Dani in NC said...

I've looked at several of your completed doilies and they are lovely. I have no doubt that they are fun to make, but what do you do with them? I'm having visions of doilies on every table and chair back in your house :-).

The Doily Underground said...

Thanks for the nice comments!

The doilies are fun to make. Sometimes I can think of something useful to do with them. Other times, I admire them for a while and then chuck them in a drawer. My drawer is pretty full now.

There are a few useful ways to use doilies. I might do a blog post about it. I'll probably still continue to chuck most of the ones I make into a drawer.

Soo said...

Those are all great doilies -- not surprisingly I'm drawn to the Niebling particularly!! It's lovely. Where is the pattern from??

The Doily Underground said...

Thanks, Soo. Yep, I love Niebling patterns. They're so much fun, and the results are usually lovely.

The tulip-like pattern is from Gestrickte Spitzendecken, edited by Eva Maria Leszner. If you knit from this collection of doily patterns, be aware that the charts tend to have errors. I've knit several and have not yet found one that is error-free. Good thing the patterns are cute, I guess...

The Artist formerly Known as Purpleworms (!) said...

I know this is an old post, but I find the idea of signatures in patterns (and meshes) fascinating - excellent, excellent blog post!!