A doily (or doilie) is an ornamental mat, originally the name of a fabric made by Doiley, a 17th-century London draper. Doily earlier meant "genteel, affordable woolens", evidently from the same source.
They are crocheted and sometimes knitted out of cotton or linen thread. Openwork allows the surface of the underlying object to show through. In addition to their decorative function doilies have the practical role of protecting fine-wood furniture from the scratches caused by crockery or decorative objects.
Many patterns for crocheting or knitting doilies were published by thread manufacturers in the first part of the 20th century. The designers were often anonymous. The designs could be circular or oval starting from the center and working outward, reminiscent of the Polar coordinates system. Doilies, as well as other household items, may be made by crocheting rows on a grid pattern using a technique called filet crochet, similar to points on the Cartesian coordinate system. Although it may to some extent interfere with the original use, some doilies have raised designs (rose petals, popcorn, or ruffles) rather than being flat.
Contemporary designers continue to make patterns for modern hand craft enthusiasts.
In more recent times disposable paper doilies are used to decorate plates, placed under the food for ornamentation.
See also 
- Merriam-webster.com "doily." "doily." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009.
- Online Etymological DictionaryEtymonline.com
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