10 November 2006

Knitting a German doily pattern, part 2: Erich Engeln patterns

Erich Engeln leaflets are still available and are a fabulous source of lace patterns. I have noticed that there are plenty of patterns in those infamously hard to get out-of-print German lace knitting magazines that are actually Engeln patterns. The more current magazines may showcase the doilies in lovely color pictures that are more attractive than the somewhat murky black and white covers of the leaflets, but hey, the patterns are the same. For the price of one book, you can pick and choose a nice selection of them and have your own custom Engeln lace knitting pattern portfolio with exactly the patterns that appeal to you the most.

First, see Knitting a German doily pattern, part 1. The same stuff applies in terms of deciphering the chart symbols, since it's still a matter of translating German knitting terms into English. The charts in an Engeln leaflet are a little harder on my eyes and brain than others, but only because in an Engeln leaflet, the chart symbols are capital letters, instead of abstract shapes or lines. Also, the charts don't always make good use of the "no stitch" blank spaces used in modern charts that help the other stitches line up clearly in the chart, but overall they are not badly laid out.


Each leaflet is four pages. The cover includes pictures of all of the patterns, and the back page has the chart symbol key and other instructions. The middle two pages contain the charts. Many of the leaflets feature doilies having the same center motif extended to several different sizes which share a common chart. For example, in this pattern, you knit the center beginning from round 1 and then you can follow the crocheting-off notes after round 56 for doily "E" or ignore the crochet and continue through to crocheting off after round 76 for doily "D." It's pretty obvious which chart corresponds to which doily pattern.

I've deliberately chosen to show only a section of the pattern, but I hope this picture will also show you its hand-drawn yet neatly presented appearance. In my opinion, the symbols themselves are clearly distinguishable and just as readable as the ones I've seen in modern magazines and books. It's mostly a matter of wrapping your head around the different characters. As you can also see, the charts also clearly indicate how to crochet off the doily after knitting one more plain round after the last pattern round—the numbers below the arcs indicate how many stitches to group, the numbers above indiate how many stitches to chain between groups. Near round 1 of each chart, the patterns also indicate "X Maschen Anschlag" ("cast on X stitches").

Quick summary of chart symbols specific to Engeln leaflets with English translation

Engeln chart symbolEnglish
Rknit 1
Lpurl 1
Aslip 1 purlwise
Vknit 1 through the back loop
Üslip 1-knit 1-pass slipped stitch over
Zknit 2 together
Iyarn over
2(knit 1, purl 1) into the same stitch
[black triangle]slip 1-knit 2 together-pass slipped stitch over
[black square]slip 2-knit 2 together-pass 2 slipped stitches over

In an Engeln pattern, there are also two symbols (+ and •) that might appear in the chart next to the round number to indicate shifting the pattern. (The picture above shows a few rounds with + symbols.)

+ Before the beginning of the round, slip the first stitch from left needle to right needle to shift the beginning of the pattern (if there are multiple +++ symbols, slip that many stitches).

• Before the beginning of the round, slip the last stitch worked from right needle to left needle to shift the beginning of the pattern (if there are multiple ••• symbols, slip that many stitches). You can also stop working the last round short of the number stitches indicated, instead of working them and slipping them back to the left needle.

Not every pattern will include every one of these different stitches, of course. This list is based on looking at symbol keys from multiple leaflets. (I should note that I don't have a complete set as I personally didn't want to buy them all at once, but I have been collecting them gradually.)

The most awkward things for me are yarn over being an "I" instead of a circle and the mirrored decreases k2tog and sl1-k1-psso being "Z" and "Ü" instead of more intuitive slanting lines or triangles (/ and \). However, the symbols are not as randomly chosen as they may seem to a non-German knitter—they are based on abbreviations for German knitting terms. For example, "Z" is knit 2 together because "zusammenstricken" is German for "knitting together." As I get more used to German knitting terms, I remember these abbreviations more easily and Engeln charts become a little more intuitive.

If you've been able to get used to reading any other chart for a previous lace project, you can handle this. If you have been wary of Engeln leaflets because you have seen how sketchy the Christine Duchrow reprints are, rest assured that the Engeln leaflets are vastly superior in terms of legibility and organization. I highly recommend them to anyone wanting to take some first steps into the world of foreign lace patterns.


sarah said...

I know you wrote this ages ago, but I wanted to say how useful it is: I've just acquired an Engeln pattern, my first truly foreign lace and I *needed* this information!

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Der Geezer von Tampadorf said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I just got a wonderful magazine with lots of his patterns and looked with horror at the weird symbols. I had expected the usual Burda symbols but alas no. I'm so thrilled to have found your information.
Many hugs,
~Mike in Tampa

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KnottyEwe in Ravelry said...

I'm bookmarking your page as I'm knitting Schultertuch B and the book is all in German. Thank you so much for posting the translation.