In the meantime a few people in the comments expressed an interest in learning a little more about the genius that is Niebling, so I've pulled together the little bit I've learned over the past few weeks into a Niebling Knit Bits.
Niebling Knit Bits
1) There is very little biographical information on Niebling. Apparently he started knitting when he was about 6, making gloves for soldiers in the war.
2) The charting of lace patterns (rather than writing out the knitting sequence) is often attributed to him.
3) The patterns can be quite complex and have a very different feel to them than the more geometric patterns found in books like Victorian Lace Today and A Gathering of Lace. (Both of which are fab by the way.)(Just different.)
4) His patterns have 'unusual' increase/decrease bursts - which give some of the fluid shapes -- but can mean the knitting pulls or strains. (If you look at pictures of Lyra you'll see that in the 3rd set of leaves.)
5) Many of his patterns appeared in Anna/Burda magazines. They don't appear in many other forms, making them sometimes quite difficult to get hold of. But don't despair - some tips on getting Niebling patterns follow!
6) Lyra appears to be the most popular Niebling pattern -- but there are many beautiful Nieblings to discover. Which is why so many of us are addicted to Niebling Knitting. Some of the links below will take you to Niebling maserpieces throughout blogland.
Many of the patterns are out of print which is why many of us spend a bit of time each week on eBay looking for back issues of Anna/Burda magazines. A search on 'Niebling' usually uncovers some goodies. The good news is that most sellers will highlight a Niebling pattern in any issue they are selling making them easier to find. The bad news of course is that means other Niebling lovers will also be interested.
The magazine with Lyra in it is from June 1986. I'm not sure how much an English copy of the magazine sells for but I paid $38 for the German copy I have. German copies seem to come up every few weeks so don't go crazy with bidding - patience may work for you.
Other magazines with lots of Nieblings can go for more, and magazines with only one 'lesser known' Niebling can be bought for less than $10 on occasion. If you watch the auctions for a couple of weeks you'll see which patterns are 'hot' and what the going price is.
Happily the German magazines come (usually) with a supplement providing instructions for the chart symbols. And if you don't have one - there is an online resource at KnittingFools which provides chart translations for many charting styles including Burda.
A bit of Alta Vista Babel translation and help from some blogland will help with the non-chart instructions (casting on, off and any special instructions).
Lacis has 2 books of Niebling (Niebling school) patterns. (you have to scroll WAAAAAAAY down the page to find them) I haven't seen either so can't comment on them. (But they are on my Christmas list!)
Finally, DoilyHead has 2 leaflets with quite a few patterns that she managed to convince the Burda family to let her publish. I've got both of those (blame Jane) and there are some interesting bits and pieces in there.
EDITED 12 October: I've discovered another source for some of Niebling's gorgeous patterns. Glenda (aka Doilyhead)(I love that name!) - anyway Glenda has some single patterns for sale -- you can check out which patterns she has at her Flickr site.
Glenda refers to herself as a 'Niebling addict enabler' and when you see the patterns you'll know why!
Online Niebling Goldmines
There are two Niebling related Yahoo Groups (I don't belong to either!)(yet) - Niebling Lace Knitters for talking about knitting Nieblings, and Herbert Niebling Patterns whose focus is pestering Burda to publish the dang patterns!
Some Niebling knitting from the wilds of blogland (in no particular order!):
Rosemarie has knit up some beautiful Nieblings and has a great circular start tutorial.
OceanKnitter completed an award winning Lyra last year.
The Lyra Learning Group is just that - a group of knitters led by Rosemarie who tackled Lyra. Some gorgeous versions there as well as a few tips and hints.
Angelfire has quite a few pics of different Nieblings. Click on the small pictures to see the detail. It's well worth it!!
And of course there are Jane, Fleegle and Z's Momma - all welcome commenters on this blog and inspiring Niebling (and other styles of lace) knitters.
Right, that's everything I can think of about Herbie for now. Please feel free to add info/links I've missed in the comments and I'll edit the post to include them.