Oma's Lace Centerpiece

Judy Gibson ©1997

This is a reconstruction of a knitted lace centerpiece originally knitted by Annie Marie Doenicke Knoll, possibly in the 1950's, maybe earlier.

The Cloth

This lace centerpiece is very delicate and elegantly beautiful but the lace pattern is quite simple. It would be suitable for a beginner to lace knitting, though perhaps in this case it should be done in a larger scale, say, #30 thread on size 4(US) needles. (On the other hand, it's not much harder to knit in very fine thread, and the results are much nicer.)

The cloth has a central portion in a fairly plain stockinette with the increases taking the form of a spiralling pattern of yo's. The main part of the cloth is a version of a lace stitch similar to the Shetland pattern called "Feather and Fan" or "Old Shale." The shaping is done in a single round, with three rounds of plain knitting between the shaping rounds.

The original cloth in its unblocked state is 33 inches from point to point; it would be somewhat bigger if blocked. It has 24 repeats around the circle, that is, 24 "feathers" radiating outward from the center. It is knitted in fine thread, apparently cotton. My best guess is that it is #50 or #60 thread. It lies completely flat and smooth without blocking, and drapes very softly over one's hand.

The original cloth was worked to a size of nine sets of three increase rounds (you'll see what I mean by that), but since the increase rounds follow a very regular pattern, it would be easy to continue far beyond the amount that Oma did. It would also be possible to make a smaller cloth simply by stopping earlier.

Materials

Cordonet cotton #60 (290 meters, or 324 yds). 3 spools are enough for the full cloth; 1 is enough for a smaller version. See my comments on thread size.

Set of double pointed needles size 1 (US) (= 2.25 or 2.5 mm)

One or more circular needles size 1

Very fine crochet hook

Central Portion

K = knit
yo = yarn over
OO = yarn over twice
k2tog = knit 2 stitches together
SSK = slip (as if to knit), slip (as if to knit), knit these two stitches together. This gives the same result as slip 1, knit 1, pass the slipped stitch over...but is easier to do and looks smoother.

Cast on 6 sts. This can be done by forming a small circle from a double loop of the thread, then crocheting the stitches over this circle, placing the stitches onto the needles as they are made. Pull the double loop snug as you begin to cover it with stitches.

Rnd 1. Arrange stitches, two each on 3 needles, as you go. Cut off the tail.
Rnds 2-4. k plain.
Rnd 5. *k1, yo* 6 times. (you now have 12 sts)
Rnds 6-8. k plain.
Rnd 9. *k1, yo* 12 times. (24 sts: whew! The hard part is over!)
Rnds 10-12. k plain.
Rnd 13. *K1, yo* 24 times. (48 sts) You now have the 24 repeats that will form the entire cloth. If you haven't already done so, mark the beginning of the round with a safety pin or other marker.
Rnds 14-16. k plain.
Rnd 17. k1, *yo, k2*, 23 times, ending yo, k1. (72 sts)
Rnds 18-20. k plain.
Rnd 21. k1, *yo, k3* around. (96 sts)
Rnds 22-24. k plain.
Rnd 25. k1, *yo, k4* around. (120 sts)
Rnds 26-28. k plain.
Rnd 29. k1, *yo, k5* around. (144 sts)
Rnds 30-32. k plain.
Rnd 33. *k1, yo, k1, SSK, OO, k2tog* around. (168 sts)
Rnd 34. *k4, (k1, p1) into the OO* around.
Rnds 35-36. k plain.
Rnd 37. k1, *yo, k7* around. (192 sts)
Rnds 38-40. k plain.
Rnd 41. *k1, yo, k2, SSK, OO, k2tog, k1* around. (216 sts)
Rnd 42. *k5, (k1, p1) into the OO, k2* around.
Rnds 43-44. k plain.

Critically important: Now knit one stitch from the first needle onto the last needle (and move the marker if necessary) so that the new first stitch of the round (and each repeat) is the one that rises directly above the yo of round 41. This will cause each feather to be centered properly in the outer portion of the cloth.

Note: Instead of making a knitted central portion, it would be possible to cast on 216 stitches and knit only the outer portion. This could be stitched to a center made of a finely-woven (say, handkerchief weight) linen or cotton cloth.

Outer Portion: the Feather and Fan

You may change from double-pointed needles to a circular needle whenever you have enough stitches. How many you need will depend on the length of your circular. As the cloth gets very large, you may need to use more than three or more circulars in the manner of double-points, if you can't get a long enough circular.

I will give these instructions only as a chart; see the comments for the written-out version.

The Chart

This chart reads from the bottom up, starting with 216 stitches following knitting the center portion, and the rows read from right to left. The repeat begins at the center of the increase portion. There are 24 repeats in the round.

I have charted only the pattern rounds. There are three rounds of plain knitting between the pattern rounds. I have grouped the pattern rounds in three's. In each group the only difference is that the second and third rounds add one knit stitch to accommodate the additional stitch created in the previous pattern round.

Notice that each repeat begins with a knit and a yo, and ends with a yo; this forms the pair of holes that runs up the center of each feather. Place a ring marker on the needle at the beginning of every repeat, and be careful that the marker doesn't slide under the thread of the yo's and throw your count off. Make sure that the central knit stitch is always immediately to the left of the marker.

| = knit
/ = knit 2 together (k2tog)
O = yarn over (yo)

     3 1 3 1 3     4   5   4     3 1 3 1 3 1 <--crochet stitches together in
    / \|/ \|/ \  /  \/   \/  \  / \|/ \|/ \|    groups like this, with 8 chain
                                                sts between groups.
    |||||||||||  |||||||||||||  |||||||||||| <--last all-knit round
9c  O|O|O|O|O|O  |///////////|  O|O|O|O|O|O|
9b  O|O|O|O|O|O   ///////////|  O|O|O|O|O|O|
9a  O|O|O|O|O|O   ///////////   O|O|O|O|O|O|

8c    O|O|O|O|O   |//////////|  O|O|O|O|O|O|
8b    O|O|O|O|O    //////////|  O|O|O|O|O|O|
8a    O|O|O|O|O    //////////   O|O|O|O|O|O|

7c    O|O|O|O|O    |/////////|    O|O|O|O|O|
7b    O|O|O|O|O     /////////|    O|O|O|O|O|
7a    O|O|O|O|O     /////////     O|O|O|O|O|

6c      O|O|O|O     |////////|    O|O|O|O|O|
6b      O|O|O|O      ////////|    O|O|O|O|O|
6a      O|O|O|O      ////////     O|O|O|O|O|

5c      O|O|O|O      |///////|      O|O|O|O|
5b      O|O|O|O       ///////|      O|O|O|O|
5a      O|O|O|O       ///////       O|O|O|O|

4c        O|O|O       |//////|      O|O|O|O|
4b        O|O|O        //////|      O|O|O|O|
4a        O|O|O        //////       O|O|O|O|

3c        O|O|O        |/////|        O|O|O|
3b        O|O|O         /////|        O|O|O|
3a        O|O|O         /////         O|O|O|

2c          O|O         |////|        O|O|O|
2b          O|O          ////|        O|O|O|
2a          O|O          ////         O|O|O|

1c          O|O          |///|          O|O|
1b          O|O           ///|          O|O|
1a          O|O           ///           O|O|
                 ring marker goes here ----> X
This could be continued as long as you like, adding a yo to the left side of each feather, then one to the right, with each cycle, and adding one decrease each cycle. The original cloth actually ended somewhere in the middle of a tenth cycle.

Finishing

The original lace was bound off loosely, then a crocheted chain was added around the edge, attached every half inch or so. It might be more attractively finished by crocheting together the stitches of the last round in groups, with a chain between groups. I have charted how I did it.

Wash the cloth in mild detergent, allowing it to soak thoroughly and relax. Pull gently and tug in all directions to ease the stitches into their new shape. Having done this, it may simply be spread out neatly on a towel to dry, patting the chain edging out the way you like it.

Acknowledgments

I am grateful to Mrs. Knoll's grandson Pat, for graciously lending me the cloth so that I could work out the design, and to her son Pat for sending me a short biography of his mother. Many thanks to her family for giving me permission to publish this design, to Manny Olds for her tips on the mathematics of the feather-and-fan pattern, and to Mary Wood for her different version of a flaring feather-and-fan design.

Copyright notice: This is an original design, which I reconstructed from an old lace piece. All rights to this eloquent description belong to Judy Gibson, Email to jgibson (at) cts (dot) com
Email to jgibson (at) cts (dot) com
P.O. Box 117, Descanso, California 91916. You have my permission to print a copy for your personal use, but not to publish the pattern or to place it on any internet site.