Old shale is a great way to introduce yourself to lace knitting. It’s a simple four row repeat with a single pattern row. It’s easy to memorize and the result is spectacular. Old shale is a common stitch used in the Shetland Islands for knitting a border on a hap shawl. The borders sometimes use multiple colours which emphasize the waves in the knitting.
the basics – how to knit old shale
The old shale stitch pattern in words (for knitting flat):
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: Purl
Row 3: *K2tog 3 times, (yo knit 1) 6 times, k2tog 3 times, repeat from *
Row 4: Knit
These 4 rows complete the pattern.
The old shale stitch pattern in words (for knitting in the round):
Round 1-2: Knit all sts.
Round 3: *K2tog 3 times, (yo knit 1) 6 times, k2tog 3 times, repeat from *
Row 4: Purl all sts.
These 4 rounds complete the pattern.
This video that demonstrates old shale stitch used for the Old Shale Tee.
And this is the video for Feather and Fan stitch. Although people frequently interchange old shale and feather and fan, they are not the same stitch. Check out the differences by comparing this video to the previous one:
I’ve only shown you one version of old shale here. Did you know that there are more than 40 different versions of this stitch? Mason-Dixon Knitting has a terrific blog post about old shale. A Birmingham knitting guild set out to knit all 40 versions that they has found. They created a free eBook demonstrating the various stitches. You can get it here: deep dive into old shale.
So there you go – the skinny on old shale. I’ll knit it any time. How about you?