Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why Women Love Doilies

I pulled back the white tissue paper and sighed. Except for the missing netting, the taffeta skirt and doll, everything was intact. As I touched the crocheted stitches images of my maternal grandmother danced around the room. When my sisters and I were little, all younger than ten, my grandmother asked Mom for our favorite colors. I chose turquoise, one sister yellow and the the other red.We eventually pried it from Mom that Grandma was making special Christmas gifts and we almost died of longing to know what she was up to. We didn’t live near Grandma so a few months later she mailed our gifts and oh, the excitement of seeing Mom pull our gifts from the big paper and string tied box! Mom read the to-from tags and let us each feel our brightly wrapped gift, all soft and crinkly, then she whisked them off to her closet until the big day.

Years later as I recall pulling the fashion doll from the wrappings, dressed in a beautiful crocheted turquoise dress, I thought of all the other things Grandma made by hand, doilies chief among them. I have one she made that looks as though purple and yellow pansies are dancing around its edge. Gradually I began to wonder if other women I knew might also love doilies. So I emailed several of them and boy – did I get a response! Here’s what they said.


Why do I love doilies? Let me count the ways! First off, 90% of mine were crocheted by my sister so that’s one big reason. She has many intricate patterns and they are beautiful. Most of mine are ecru made with cotton thread but I also have one with several different colors in a thicker cotton. Secondly, they give a warm background to whatever is setting on them, whether an old clock, vase, picture, jelly jars with toppers, etc. You don’t notice dust so much if you have one! Antique furniture screams for one as much as a hardwood floor screams for a braided rug.


I love them. I make them. I use them. But the question, why? Not sure except that my mother used doilies all my life so guess it's just natural that I would too. I remember when doilies were pinned to the chair, probably to protect it from the oil in our hair. Matching ones were thrown over the arms of the chair. I think that practice went out ages ago. I decorate my rooms seasonal, so change my doilies accordingly.


Doilies! Wow a flash from the past. Instantly I think of Mom. She
crocheted doilies all the time. We had them all over the house. Every
table had one. I can remember her washing and starching them. I have a
huge container of doilies in the closet. I have some on my tables now.
I guess it does prove the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.


I LOVE doilies! I have at least one in every room. They remind me of days gone by when my grandmothers kept house. They add a lovely finishing touch on furniture and give a room a "homey" appeal.


A mere glance at a doily brings sweet treats and celebration to my mind. Doilies are heart and home wrapped up in a circle of paper lace.


I love doilies because they add an old fashioned feminine touch to a room. My favorites are the more delicate types.
To their enthusiasm I add my own. One thing I always loved was watching the motion of caring hands as hook and thread were plied to create a small masterpiece. The thread wrapped fingers and quick flick of the shiny hook twisting and turning seemed to be responding to some invisible rhythm of the heart. The ball of crochet thread sitting in an apron covered lap, growing smaller and smaller as the hours wore on created the perfect atmosphere for quiet contemplation or cheerful camaraderie with other women. My father-in-law’s second wife almost always had a doily in the making. Years ago I asked her to make me a very long one in ecru colored thread to use as a pillow topper for my bed. I loved it. I still have it and think of her every time I use it. Marie’s favorite stitch was the pineapple stitch, just like my grandmother’s.

And I guess that’s the charm of doilies. They are tied in our hearts and minds to women that we have loved, furniture and knick knacks they have enhanced, remembered quiet talks while fingers danced and oh, so many things. Often, for younger women, a doily is made of paper and wraps a sweet treat or sits on a cookie plate for a touch of elegance. You can find them in grocery stores and dollar stores. I love that too, but hope a generation hasn’t abandoned the idea of doilies and the sentimental meaning they have for so many. To that end I did some online research and would you believe you can now learn to crochet doilies on You Tube? Of course you would. Enterprising people will aways find ways to keep a beautiful idea alive. Why, I even suspect the world wide web was inspired by something the mother of the web originator once made in the shape of a vast ecru doily, probably in the pineapple stitch. Now wouldn’t that be something!

Note: The photo is of my granddaughter's Barbie doll wearing the dress Grandma Blaine made so long ago.


  1. Ahhhh...This essay is a walk down Memory Lane. What an enormous influenece our mothers and grandmothers have on us always.

  2. Memory Lane is often crowded - but with the nicest people!

  3. Fun entry! I LOVE that you've kept the dress for so long!

  4. Liz, I have the last tablecloth Grandma crocheted, too. It's quite big and has a small tear so I don't have it out. I'm sentimental about personal items from people I love. I still have the long bead rope John gave me when we were dating and things that the grand kids have made - each in their own "file."