Fast punch history lesson

by Sayraphim on July 7, 2009

A friend of mine asked a question about doileys over email, and I sent her a Rambling Fast Punch History of Craft Lesson in reply. So I figured I’d share it.


The traditional spelling of doiley is actually D’oyleys. It would be a great comfort to me if you could use the correct term from now on.

ahems. When I first came across the old spelling of it, I thought it was quite pretentious. A quick search on the net reveals that people think that it either comes from French or that Mr. D’oyley is credited as the first person to make them. I find that claim dubious, doilies are embroidered bits of cloth with crochet edges, and since they can’t pin point where crochet comes from, the first printed examples of it are crochet patterns from the 1800s, and since they’re already quite complicated, that suggests that people already knew how to crochet. And if they can’t pin point when crochet happened, I’d think it’s dreadfully difficult to then pin point who came up with the first doiley. Interestingly enough, the oldest surviving knitted items are amazing socks from the arab world with very complicated patterns, you can find photos here: the one of the left is the historic one, the one on the right is the site’s owners attempt at reproducing it. The bands of Kufic script on the toe, ankle, and top say, “Allah”. Which is pretty cool. Nothing like knitting God into your socks. There is a theory that people knit right to left, even though we as a society write left to right, because we inherited the tradition of knitting from the arabs, and they write right to left and thus knitting would be natural to go that way too. But they also don’t really know a lot about the origins of knitting. The history of knitting is hard to pin down because before people used two needles to knit, they used to knit with one in a process called nalbinding which arguement still rages wether that should be called knitting or whether it’s the precursor to knitting (ooh, hackles rise and the blood flows in the craft world. It’s a dangerous place to dwell, I’m telling you!). I’ve got a book in which the author claims that it’s one of the earliest crafts, and has identified what he claims is the oldest surviving knitting needle, which is “probably pre Bronze age”. However, it’s very difficult to correctly identify an object as a knitting needle, because it’s basically a long thin rod with a point at one end, and there’s a bunch of things that fit that description including hair decorations and cooking implements.


And I just received The Subversive Stitch , Embroidery and the making of the femine, By Rozsika Parker so I can’t wait to get started on that. I found it via a footnote in It keeps me sane: Women, craft, wellbeing by Enza Gandolfo and Marty Grace. I love how it’s an adventure, finding clues and hints in one book to lead you onto the next. I’m a big fan! they call me Craftianna Jones…

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Cute as Buttons July 7, 2009 at 11:28 am

I always spell it this way…thought everybody did at first. I think I learned the spelling from my reading my Nana's job lists. I feel much comforted knowing it is correct! Kind regards, Lisa.

Sayraphim July 8, 2009 at 1:12 am

You are more than welcome! I spell it the other way because that's how my grandmother did. How amazing are our inherited languages?

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