April 5, 2011

What is a Doily? - a Bit of History

Otherwise blogging along quite well on the A-Z challenge on all four blogs, I was stumped for the letter D for this crochet blog (I suspect it’s not going to get any easier as the month progresses). While chatting with a friend online this morning, I mentioned my dilemma (which I still want to type as dilemna), and she said “why not doily”? Dummy me, the word doily didn’t even cross my mind – perhaps because doilies and I don’t get along very well.

Courtesy of Gastonmag
It took me some time to learn to crochet in the round and even now, doilies give me fits. I prefer to work on crochet projects where you’re less likely to lose your place, those that are easy to figure out where you left off if you have to put it down for a bit. Doilies definitely don’t fit that pattern, in my opinion. I envy those of you who can whip out beautiful lace creations, but alas, my lack of concentration ensures I’ll never rank among your number.

Since I don’t ‘do’ doilies, Angie suggested I look to the history. I let my fingers do the walking and came up with a few interesting tidbits of information. One I won't share as it's from an urban dictionary and has nothing to do with crochet (wondering now which of you are off to do your own search.). Wikipedia (not the most credible source) defines the doily as “ … an ornamental mat, originally the name of a fabric made by Doiley, a 17th-century London draper. Doily earlier meant "genteel, affordable woolens", evidently from the same source”.

Another source, this time from our friends across the pond, has this to say about Robert D’Oilly, Baron of Hook Norton: "Since lace making was one of the specialities of the region, and because Robert wanted to show off, these table-cloths were beautifully embroidered by the D'Oilly ladies, and were reserved by the king's household for great occasions. They were known as "D'Oilly's linen".

I don't know if either of the entries is true or if they’re both full of it, but they were interesting to read nonetheless.

I’ve not given up on doily-making entirely, but will save further attempts for when I’m fully relaxed and have a chunk of time to devote to it. If any of you know of a tried and true beginner doily pattern, please send my way. Until then, I’ll be spinning another yarn for tomorrow’s blog posts.




I'm taking the A-Z Blogging Challenge, where I will post something from each letter of the alphabet on the corresponding day in April, except for Sunday, on at least one if not all four of my blogs. You can see my other blogs in the sidebar - More of Marie Anne.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Interesting! I know that in the 1800s during the Victorian era, doilies were used on the backs of chairs to prevent the Masacar (probably spelled wrong) grease from men's hair from staining the backs of the chairs and couches. That's why sometimes you see doilies laying on the backs of chairs and couches (decoratively today, of course.) :) -Jenne

Word Nerd said...

I'm a beginning crocheter--so far, I've done a few blankets, a bunch of scarves, one rather imperfect hat, and a pair of slippers for my granddaughter. I'd love to try a doily. Maybe I'll give it a shot. :O)

CrochetBlogger said...

Great idea to look into the history of doilies. The A-Z challenge is definitely stretching people's imaginations which I think is terrific!

Susan Rudinsky said...

My Nana and Mom always had/have doilies on the back and arms of chairs/couches. Their explaination was pretty close to what Jenne said... To keep ones hair and hands from dirty-ing (sp) up the furniture!

My only attempt at crocheting doilies ended up a tangled mess, which I think is still in the bottom of one of my MANY bags of unfinished projects! Kudos to those who can "do" doilies, I appreciate the time and effort that goes into them! :o)

Angie Mohr said...

My grandmother used to make the most intricate lace doilies. I used to just sit and watch her crochet. I was fascinated!

ladydragonfly said...

I love doilies! I haven't made one in a really long time. I will have to find a nice pattern and try one. Nice blog Marie Anne!

Mindy said...

Very interesting!

JulieDD said...

I like doily's but I've never had the desire to knit or crochet them.

Langley said...

Well of course. Doily. Great idea for the D post.

Theresa Wiza said...

I watched my grandmother crochet doilies when I was young. By the time I got to be a teenager, I asked her to teach me how to crochet. I had always planned on making doilies, but when I realized the size hook I had to use and how I could use the same number of stitches to create an afghan I went with the afghan instead. I'm still making afghans.

Grammy said...

hi, I enjoyed your posting about doilies. I love to make them, although it has been years since I made them. My mom taught me to crochet about 65 years ago. Thanks. Ruby

Debbie Henthorn said...

Grannie is a whiz at thread crochet - the most beautiful doilies, tablecloths, even a bed cover for Mom's king-size bed. I've not yet managed a doily of my own but I have made a few snowflakes!