Here's another finished Herbert Niebling doily! This one is from a pattern published in Lena magazine (Germany). This September 2006 issue also contains a lovely Niebling tablecloth pattern.
Many thanks to Courtney on the laceknitters list for the translation from German to English!
Also many thanks to Judy Gibson who researched and found the smaller doily was published previously in Kunsthakeln & Kunststricken, as part of a series, and called "Strick & Shrick, Sonderheft No. 3." Judy notes that the designer Niebling is not credited in the previous publication.
I made the doily using size 0 needles and DMC Baroque thread. This thread is not my favorite, but it does block nicely. It doesn't have the silky sheen of DMC Cebelia thread. I would recommend Baroque for everyday items and Cebelia for heirlooms.
Some people have asked how I start a doily like this. I prefer the Emily Ocker start, something I learned a long time ago. Basically, make a loop of yarn around your finger, and then crochet the number of stitches needed to start the doily into it. Then, divide up the stitches onto DPNs and start knitting. When using fine thread, it sometimes takes me several tries! The DPNs have a tendency to flop around, so I support them on top of a pillow on my lap until I've knit a few rounds. After knitting a few inches of the pattern, I pull the tail of the thread to close up the center hole.
Another method for a circular start is Rosemarie's bellybutton start, which has become quite popular with lace knitters. This is similar to the I-cord start, which entails knitting a short length of I-cord with scrap yarn, then switching to the project thread to begin knitting your pattern. After knitting a few inches of your pattern, you can unravel the I-cord, weave the tail of the project thread through the first pattern row and pull the tail snugly to close the center hole.
Finishing is another story. I came across some very old German steel crochet hooks at a flea market a while back and bought about ten of them in various sizes. Some of these old hooks have sharper tips than most modern hooks I've seen. For me, a pointier tip is great for crocheting off a doily. This Niebling doily required slipping five stitches off my circular onto the crochet hook, then slip-stitching through all loops on the hook, leaving one stitch on the hook. Next, I chained 12 (ch12), then slipped five more knit stitches onto the crochet hook, continuing in this manner until all stitches were crocheted off.
To block, I rinsed the doily in cool water and rolled it in a towel to soak up excess moisture. I pinned out each ch12 to a a nice sharp point. I also measured the diameter all the way around to make sure the doily was round and even. A good blocking board is essential.
Sometimes I use spray starch or "sizing" to finish off a doily. I only do this after the doily is blocked and dry. This is fine for doilies that see occasional use and may be washed and blocked again. If a doily will be stored for a long time, I don't like to use starch which may yellow with age.
If you press a doily with spray starch, I suggest using a hot iron with steam, a dry doily, Niagara spray starch, and a white towel or pilowcase underneath on the ironing board (or you'll end up with a starchy ironing board pad). Personally, I prefer the texture of an unpressed doily.
Of course, there are many ways to to start and finish, but these are the things I've learned and have used with some success.