Feather and Fan versus Old Shale

Sometimes one person’s slip can cause decades of error.  This is definitely the case with the two separate and different Shetland patterns.  Feather and Fan is NOT the same as Old Shale. It never was and never will be.  Someone, somewhere, about WWII made the slip and it went to the States to be handed down from generation to generation.  No one seems to know who first made this error (and it was before the maverick who, in the 1950s, brought knitting to the fore but never let the truth get in the way of a good story!!).

I have been meaning to do a swatch to show the difference for ages, and as the topic came up on the Traditional Knitting Yahoo group I have done one!  I have deliberately done it in thick yarn so that the structure of the stitches is seen more easily.  Note that there are 2 repeats worth of stitches for each pattern:

If you look at the two patterns (we will come to names in a minute), you can see they are not very much alike at all (apart from the fact they have holes in rows!)  The left hand one gives a very definite VVV shape, while the right hand one gives a wavy line, with no sharp changes.  The left hand one has more holey rows and has definite columns of holes and solids, whereas the right hand one is more diffuse.

Now the names – the left hand one is Feather and Fan, the right Old Shale (which is really called old SHELL – shale is how the Shetlanders pronounce shell – the dialect form is probably shael)  The wavy lines of Old Shale look a bit like the pattern on a clam shell, while in F&F the solid decreases look like a feather and the open bits like a fan.  (The latter is more noticeable when worked in fine yarn.)

This difference in shape is caused by the way the stitches are decreased.  In F&F, there are TWO decreases for 6 yos – k4tog and k4togtbl.  In other words you have columns where you are stacking up a load of stitches on top of each other, and this results in the V shape.  The stitch between the two decreases is (usually!) a purl, and that forms the spine of the feather.  F&F is a 2 row/round pattern so has holes on every odd numbered row/round:

In OS, you have SIX decreases for 6 yos – k2tog six times.  This gives the long sweep of the curve.   The pattern has 4 rows/rounds, with only one holey row, so there are fewer holes in OS:

The actual way the pattern is written depends on whether it is being worked in the round or knitted to and fro. It also depends on whether you are knitting up the way or down.

BASICALLY, Old Shale  has an 18 sts,  4 row repeat.  Feather and Fan has a 2 row, 14 st repeat.

Old Shale:

Looked at from the RIGHT side, there is a row with holes, and BELOW this as used is a row of PURL BUMPS.  Above the row of holes there are TWO rows of ‘plain knit’

SO… if you are working it as a shawl edging from the INSIDE out, in the ROUND, you work 2 knit rounds, one holey round and 1 PURL round.  Working it TO AND FRO gives k 1 row, p 1 row, holey row (k) and KNIT the 4th row (forming the purl bumps on the right side. If working from the BOTTOM UP, however, (are you concentrating?!) you would work the purl bumps, the holes and the two ‘knit’ rows/rounds in that order.

In this sample I was working from the bottom up, and to and fro, so what I actually knitted was:

row 1 knit

row 2 knit (ie purl bumps on the right side)

row 3 *k2tog three times, [yo, k1] six times, k2tog three times.  Repeat from * as required

row 4 purl

If you are working OS as the border of a hap shawl (where it was usually used) you would be working from the top down and in the round. In this case the pattern would be:

round 1 knit

round 2 knit

round 3 *k2tog three times, [yo, k1] six times, k2tog three times.  Repeat from * as required

round 4 purl

This is the classic Old Shale – 18 sts giving 6 holes per repeat.  But on corners you can increase to 24 or 30 sts, giving 8 or 10 holes per repeat.

Feather and Fan:

The holey rows are every alternate row and the ground is stocking stitch for thicker yarns and garter stitch for thinner ones.  The basic pattern is the same whether you are working up or down.

The usual pattern repeat is 14 sts and if worked in garter stitch would be:
row 1 *k4tog, yo, [k1, yo] five times, k4togtbl, p1.  Repeat from * as required
row 2 k

I was working to and fro in stocking stitch, so my second row was

*k1, p13.  Repeat from * as required

This gives a line of purl bumps up the centre of the ‘feather’.

So that is the Shetland version.  You will, however, never convince folk who have never been to the place that this is ‘correct’ and they are wrong…!!


96 thoughts on “Feather and Fan versus Old Shale

  1. Liz, thank you for such a clear explanation with pictures of the differences in the patterns. But I was still a bit confused because Sharon Miller, who I’ve always considered an authority on Shetland lace, reverses the names and says that her F&F (your Old Shell) is a variation of Old Shell. So I checked Mary Thomas’ Knitting Patterns and the J&S reprint of Shetland Scarves and Shawls. Your are right (aren’t you always?!). J&S calls their scarf, though, Fan and Feather (just to be a bit contradictory). Guess Sharon Miller isn’t such an authority after all….

    1. Thank you Liz for the feather and fan/old shale explanation. For the first time ever it all makes sense!

      Loved reading about your cruise too. Most interesting and the stash looks fab!

    2. Haw I can meke the escarf more biguer ( I try with 30 sts. and olways make my sts.more than 30 sts

  2. This really is interesting. I still did not have the correct pattern for Feather and Fan in the shawl I’m making for my daughter.

    I have a shortened version of “Old Shale” (12 stitcthes). That is the one I am consistently finding online.

    Now the Feather and Fan one I learned from my Great Aunt, who immigrated from Norway. This one is very similar to “Old Shale” except that it is a 4 row repeat, just like “Old Shale” The difference between this one and “Old Shale” is that the Feather and Fan I learned had 3 rows of stockinette st between the lace row.

    I shawl I’m making is too wide for my daughter, so I am going to have to restart it. I think I can take the two actual patterns and alternate them in the restart so that the differences will show up side by side better.

  3. This is very interesting to me. The first “lace” pattern I ever did was called F & F from a book that my knitting mentor showed me. The pattern was 23 stitches: K2 together 3 times , with yo, k1 6 times in the center and doing yo once before repeating the K2 together. Then 3 rows of stockinette so there is never a ridge of purl bumps on the public side of the fabric. Thank you. You have taught me so much over the years and I can never thank you enough for sending me that lovely yarn from Orkney.

  4. Katherine, I think you are mistaken. I checked in Heirloom Knitting and Sharon Miller does not reverse the names. Sharon and Liz agree on which pattern is Old Shell and which is Feather and Fan, although the pattern Sharon gives for F&F is a little different from the one Liz gives. Sharon’s pattern is a 15-stitch repeat with two stitches between the decrease stitches instead of the one stitch that Liz gives in her 14-stitch repeat, and Sharon’s variation is a 4-row repeat instead of a 2-row repeat. The extra stitch and the difference in the row repeats gives Sharon’s F&F a different look from Liz’s. Sharon’s F&F bears a stronger resemblance to Old Shell than Liz’s 2-row repeat version.

    Sharon says that F&F is a variation of Old Shell where the decreases have been compressed into one decrease on each side of the increases instead of three decreases on each side of the increases in Old Shell. Liz words this differently, but the meaning is the same.

    I’m not trying to start an argument; I’m just pointing out that Sharon and Liz are not really at odds here and both recognize that Old Shell and Feather and Fan are fundamentally different.

    Most lace patterns have variations and many go by more than one name. Thank you, Liz, for pointing out the fundamental differences between Old Shell and F&F. It’s unfortunate that so many knitters use the names interchangeably because although these patterns can look very similar (just compare the Old Shell and F&F pictures in HK), they are quite different patterns.

  5. Hi!
    Liz’s detailed explanation has been forwarded to me with the responses to date and it is so wonderful to see the interest and painstaking research now being done in this area – lovely work Liz :-). In the light of a comment left here perhaps it will help if I add the following to clarify.
    In Heirloom Kntting I clearly write on the confusion of local names and I make it clear that the pattern that Liz is describing as Old Shell here is exactly as mine (page 51 HK) and that the stitch width /row count has many different configurations but so long as the decreases are single, I think it fits broadly speaking, under the description of Old Shell. I certainly agree that the Shetland Name is Old Shell, a previous poster here was mistaken in that. Here’s an extract covering this (page 14 HK):
    “Pattern Names
    It is generally held by those who collect knitting patterns that the linking of names to patterns is a nightmare. Commonly, there are local names for patterns made around the world, and so the same
    pattern can easily turn up with at least two different names. Throughout the work for this book, I
    have found a similar degree of confusion over the naming of Shetland lace knitting patterns. One
    reference calls Spider Lace by the name Bird’s Eye; another calls it Lace Holes; yet another source
    gives the Lace Holes pattern the name Dewdrops. Similarly, Old Spanish Lace is the name I have
    found given to two different patterns – Madeira Wave and Madeira Cascade. The Fern motif has
    also been variously named as Small Tree, Madeira, Leaf and Fan. A ‘Fern Stitch’ pattern didn’t
    result in the Fern motif expected but in a pattern well known in collections as ‘Candlelight’.
    “Although it seems generally agreed among knitting experts that Shetland lace pattern names
    originate from naturally occurring forms, there is still confusion here. One evocatively describes
    Old Shell as Old Shale, deriving from the tracks left by the sea on a pebbled shore; other affirm the name to be Old Shell – the native dialect being misunderstood by the other expert as Old Shale.
    “These problems probably arise from the oral based culture of the Shetland and the skill of the
    knitters themselves, who easily learnt patterns from watching others or by working them out from
    knitted pieces – as well as freely creating patterns themselves. There was no need to have the
    patterns in written form and so unfortunately for us, the certainty of original names, if there ever were any, seems not to exist from this source. The earliest knitting manuals from the 1830s (e.g.Mrs Gaugain, Mrs Beeton), gave directions and ‘receipts’ for knitting Shetland shawls but again, as common at that time, no actual pattern names were recorded.
    “Mrs Elizabeth Henry – born in MacDuff, educated at St Andrew’s University and later the Vice
    Principal of Sheffield Training College – visited Shetland in the 1890s. She stayed with the
    Sutherland family and wrote that Mrs Sutherland* and her two daughters knitted lace for a living,
    were string players in Lerwick Orchestra and sang old Norwegian songs as they spun. The farsighted
    Mrs Henry was probably one of the first to note down some of the Shetland lace patterns
    that she saw being knitted and she did record names for them. Interestingly, these reflect the
    romantic names of knitting patterns of the time – Queen’s Lace, Irish Lace, Coburg Lace – rather
    than names from nature. This could indicate the continuing cross fertilisation of European patterns
    with the Shetland Islands, which was always an important link in the chain of Western mercantile
    “As far as possible, I have given the most consistently used names of the the patterns. I note in the text accompanying the pattern, the alternatives that I have found. Where patterns had no names
    recorded at the time of their collection, I have tried to identify the main known motifs in their
    design and named them accordingly – simply for the sake of expediency. Where I believe I have
    made a new pattern (such as Field of Flowers) or created a variation, I will say so in the text.
    “All patterns have arisen from experiment. Feather and Fan is derived from Old Shell; Leaf pattern
    from Horseshoe pattern; and as a final thought, it’s interesting to wonder at what point a variation becomes an accepted new pattern in its own right.”
    I stand by my consistent viewpoint that there is not necessarily a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in this or in any knitting practice: stitch patterns and their families are a melting pot – to throw in the mix as an instance: Old Shell is not exclusively Shetland it is known as Peacock’s Feather on the Continent well before Shetland Lace Shawl knitting took off in the 1840s seen frequently in bonnet backs of the 18th century (Mary Thomas). What we need to do as a good practice is to example (as Liz does here) which pattern we are referring to. I do stand by my claim though that Feather and Fan is derived from Old Shell, and the reasoning is this:
    As a knitter inteerested in varying sts,it’s more true to nature to think (to my mind) “OK, lets do as a pattern row(4/6/8 etc) consecutive ‘make 1, knit 1s’ followed by (4,6,8 etc) consecutive decreases” ……and then to be pleased with that effect and think “OK, what happens now if I cluster the decs together?” and hey presto Feather and Fan!
    The consistent variation that I note from a study of Shetland haps is that both the following are termed Old Shell (Shell)

    # increases followed by # single decreases eg ‘6 make 1, knit 1s’ followed by ‘6 k2togs’
    # increases followed by #/2 single decs knit 1 #/2 single decs :
    eg ‘6 make 1, knit 1s’ followed by ‘3 k2togs, knit 1, k3togs’.
    Hope this helps
    Very best wishes

    1. Yes, Sharon, you got in before I did! We ARE in agreement!

      An added bit to throw in the mix is that even within Shetland there are occassional knitters who use different terminology – hap shell is another term I have heard used for OS….

      One not unrelated aside – from the English version of the Estonian book I now know that in Estonia Candle Light is called Lilac Leaf. Fine to call it that when doing Estonian lace. But I would be wrong to use that pattern and say Shetlanders called it Lilac Leaf…


      1. Hi Liz!

        Aren’t names fun? I agree with you that it’s wisest to call the pattern by its local name in a local knitting piece, I’m sure you’ve noticed how similar some of the Orenburg lace names are to the ones in Shetland such as Cat’s Paw and if memory serves me right Leaf. I do like the ‘Hap shell’ one too, it’s so descriptive!

        Picking your brains now: How frequently do you see old (say pre 1930 – invention of circular needles broadly speaking) haps knitted Borders Out*? BTW – they’d have had to be done on 4 needles, I don’t really think the borders outwards method ever caught on in Shetland. What do you think, and how much of Orkney knitting got sold in or as Shetland do you think, or didn’t it much matter? I’ve got old images of Orcadians knitting and wearing haps and it makes me wonder.

        Do you know of any appreciable differences between Orkney and Shetland knitting in technique or pattern? You are exactly the right person in the right place to get a note of this sort of information before it’s too late. Sorry, it’s not as if you haven’t got enough to do! 🙂

        *For any unsure of how to tell the difference, I identify the two border making methods this way: if the line of laceholes in Old Shell arch up like a bridge after the edging then the shawl is made inwards – if the line of laceholes are cupped like a bowl at the edging then it’s outwards.
        brIdge = Inwards
        bOwl = Outwards

  6. Now, there is a lot there…!!

    As you well know, Shetland knitters have their ways and if you get a group of them started, they will argue on for ever!! In or Out is one such topic…!!

    There are pix of circs in use in Shetland before 1900. I suspect it was uncommon, but most knitters will say they remember grannie/a friend of grannies with circs. My GUSS, and it is only a GUESS is that people did which ever suited them best – down to the vital ‘ecomonic imperitave’ again…

    Orkney does have a fascinating knitting tradition of its own. The one thing Orcadians are NOT good at, though, is blowing their own trumpets. So the world doesn’t know much about it. I am gradually collecting patterns etc mainly using archive photos. But occassionally I find actual garments/shawls etc in the heritage centres round the islands. The lace patterns have similarities with Shetland, but are not the same – there are, for example, more Estonian links here – there were two or three patterns I had found here which I had never seen in Shetland. Then when I got the Estonian lace dictionaries there they were!

    As well as its own distinctive lace, it also has stranded knitting similar to, but not identical to that of Fair Isle and Shetland; and a set og gansey patterns I have seen nowhere else.

    I am collecting the info for a book. All I need is TIME!!


    1. Oh Liz!!

      Goody Goody Good! That’s one book that’s the top of my ‘To Get’ list and it’ll be worth the wait, now let’s campaign for more research / knitting stuff and less housework…..

      I’ve never hear of circs before the Aero Twin pin of pre WW2 vintage – they were very unwieldy things with stiff wired rope cables – I’d have thought the five dpns would have been preferred back pre 1900..Oh…Did the Orcadians call their ganseys just that or ‘frokes’ as on Shetland?

      Write when and if you have time and I promise I will now stop badgering you but it’s one huge interesting lucky dip of a topic.

  7. I’m sorry I posted the above in error, and I stand corrected, but I’m delighted that I provoked the above comments. Sharon, if you’re still reading, I love your books; my HK is dog-eared. I will say, though, that your picture of FF looks a lot like Liz’ Old Shale. I should just have read the text and charts a bit more carefully.

  8. Extremely interesting write up. My great granny came to Canada from Shetland at the beginning of the 20th century. She taught Mom some of her lace patterns. She called 3 different ones Feather and Fan, including Old Shale. But I think in her case it was a matter of the first name that popped into her head to get the kid out from under her feet. I’ve wondered about the names, and this clears it up. (Any stranded pattern that was the least bit geometric was named “Fair Isle Pattern”, every single one had that name, and that name only!)
    On the circs. and dpns. She brought her “knitting pins” from Shetland when she emigrated. To knit in the round, for sweaters at least, she put all the front stitches on one needle, all the back on another, and knit with a 3rd. This gave a wee ladder up each side, but as she said, “It comes out in the wash”.

    1. Although I have stumbled upon this late in the year, I’m fascinated! I had always thought that Old Shale and Feather & Fan were one and the same, since I always saw the names used interchangeably. Thanks for the clarification. I love “Old Shale.”

      I have a Shetland knitting belt; I really like using it! (although I haven’t been knitting in quite a while, since we moved this year, my stuff has been in storage and not unpacked). When I first learned to knit (and I consider myself a real beginner), I found myself naturally sticking the LONG right needle into the belt line of my pants to hold it. Crazy but it worked for me (sort of)! Then I discovered the Shetland knitting belt!

      I have the book the Principles of Knitting, and in there are the basic instructions for “Shetland style knitting in the round” (using the 3 dp needles). Which I tried… but there were those little ladders on the sides! I thought I was really messing up… but I guess not! Perhaps if you knit with tiny needles, those really will come out in the wash. I was trying it with larger yarn, sport weight or dk, I think. Thank you Barb, for that interesting tidbit about your great granny knitting like this!

      I like to knit with bigger needles; I had to buy the only larger size dps I could get for my Shetland knitting belt… they are German-made, and have a non-stick kind of finish. I believe I have sizes 6, 7, 8, and 10. There are not very many dp needles that come in the lengths you need for a Shetland knitting belt… I guess you could make your own, or have them made by someone, which I have considered doing.

      Thanks for the facts, info and tidbits. Everyone I know knits with circulars if knitting anything longer than a very narrow scarf (width-wise). No one I know knits with a Shetland knitting belt! LOL!
      Kristen (Frisco, Texas)

      1. I too like long needles and I lodge the end in the elastic of my knickers!! Always have. I sometimes use a belt, but usually prefer to use spns in my waistband.

        You can get the long needles from Jamieson and Smith in Shetland – they have them on their website – http://www.shetlandwoolbrokers.co.uk/epages/BT2741.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/BT2741/Products/%22Needles%20-%20Steel%20Double%20Ended%22/SubProducts/%22Steel%20Double%20Ended%20Needles%22


  9. I first read this discussion on Traditional Knitting and assumed that the pattern I had knitted 20 years ago was F&F but imagine my surprise to see it was OS instead! Thank you for the clarification.

  10. Fascinating sequence of comments. Makes me wonder about the names for Aran knitting patterns. When in Ireland I paid only passing attention to the aran knitting tradition, apart from appreciating it and wearing it. I do know that one tradition has it that the body of a drowned fisherman washed ashore could be identified according to his sweater pattern.

  11. Thank you so much for that information Liz at long last I know the correct names of the two patterns.
    I have been knitting Old Shale with the 2nd row purl and the 4th row knit so now will start knitting it correctly!!!
    Thank you again Liz – am enjoying the discussion.
    Patricia (in New Zealand)

  12. Thank you for the visual..
    After looking at the two.. I like the Old Shale the best.. I was just about to start a top which I thought was feather & Fan but now I see its Old Shale 🙂

  13. What a fascinating discussion!

    Thanks, Liz for the initial info. I too have fallen in the trap of misnaming Old Shell/Shale.

    I hope you get some time to work on your book, we’re all waiting.

  14. I would like to hear more details of the pre-1900 circs. I once saw a pair of circs at a yard sale that were connected by an actual chain made of links; I didn’t buy it and I’ve kicked myself ever since.

    1. I have some old circular needles. One has a chain for a cable–it looks just like the old, flat, gold chain that my grandmother wore and one is the old Aero circular with the twisted wire cable. I bought them, years ago, for collectibles from eBay.

  15. Hi Tamar,

    I spent some time yesterday trying to fin the photo of the lady sitting by the fire using a circ. They tended to be thin wire – I have seen them in museums – usually the small heritage centres. I have no idea how common they were, but they were fairly well known up here it seems.


  16. What interesting information. I made a hap shawl with OS (outward) and absolutely thought it was F&F. I have a OS dishcloth pattern that is also misnamed F&F. And I will say that I think shell is a better name than shale for the lovely shell shaped design in the OS pattern. Thanks for taking the time to thoroughly discuss this. I feel like I know something many other people don’t know just because I read this discussion 🙂 S.

  17. The confusion was after Mary Thomas (1938):
    Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book, page 191, Fig.187,
    photo of Shetland knitting stitches, shows
    #7 Spout or Razor Shell (looks like Feather&Fan)
    #8 Old Shale (the correct form)

    Her 2nd book also has it right: p.173 gives Feather pattern (no fan) but no k4tog, only a narrow solid column, as a version of Chevron.
    page 182 gives Old Shale correctly again, but with the many variations that MT collected.
    I read her books first but still always thought of Old Shell as Feather&Fan because it looks more like that name than the Razor Shell/F&F pattern does; are the fans supposedly closed?

  18. Kathleen Kinder found a description in Gravenor Henson that she felt was a 1770s version of Feather and Fan or Old Shell; it was called Trico Berlin, and done on the hand frame, producing something Henson said had “the appearance of net ornamented with feather work.”

  19. I’ve read this wonderful and informative discussion but I am still puzzled…Are there two patterns called Old Shale/Old Shell: one with all knit rows, one with one purl row?

    1. The ‘classic’ Old Shale has 2 knit and 1 purl row, plus the patterned row, in the repeat. On odd occassions, people do Old Shale in garter stitch – ie 3 knit as well as the patterned row. Both are still called Old Shale… Liz

  20. Hi, you did such a good job of explaining the difference. I’m looking for a pattern that is similar to the fan and feather from the late 60’s . Can I send you a photo? Maybe you could tell me what the pattern is. Thanks so much, Sue

  21. Thanks for the clarification! Never could figure out where the feather was in the pattern. Always thought it looked more like a fan or a shell. I guess I have been knitting Old Shale/Old Shell. I love the pattern.

  22. hi all. i have a pattern F&F Afgan. By Plymouth Yarn #N003. its the old shell. pattern. i,m making it now. i had this pattern for about 6yrs, i was very new to knitting. i even brought the yarn. its Beautiful!! now i know how to read the pattern and do yoers. i came a looong– way.i saw this pattern on TV. that was no UTube and the lady made a baby blanket. i was impressed.. she called it Fan and Feather. good luck. im like Susan cant tell where the feather is looks like Old/Shale-Shell.Thank You!

  23. Old Shell, is the first lace stitch mam taught me. I can understand folks confusion, especially as I understand the accent. Mam was from Lerwick, loved her knitting, and was always pleased that at least one of her daughters took to knitting with such enthusiasm. She moved away when she married, but when we came up to Shetland on holidays, I’d always want to go to my aunty Annie’s neighbours…Lily and Bertha, and see what they were knitting on their pins. I’d be totally in awe of the lace shawls out in gardens stretched out and being dressed on frames….it was magical. I’m fortunate to have good knitting skills because of this, and my links to Shetland, and hopefully, even though my daughter is 13, and taking an interest at this later stage than I did, I can pass on what I know….with good advice from people like Liz when I’m needing it. Thankyou

  24. I’m doing a baby shawl right now in a version of shale stitch. It has a similar look to yours but it has 4 x k2tog and 4 x yo,k1. That wasn’t my idea, I just found it in a book and thought I’d try it. Thanks for the info about feather and fan. I’ve seen pictures, supposedly of F and F, but they looked more like shale stitch. Thanks for putting me right about that. I don’t usually go for lacy patterns but I’m enjoying my shale st project very much.
    Thankyou. Di

  25. After leaving my post I received an email from WordPress. I would like to receive your newsletter but not at the cost of having nuisance mail from WordPress. They have been a persistent nuisance in the past.

  26. Pingback: Old Shale -
  27. I watch a video old shale and went from to finally get to this here link. I thought a pretty lacy pattern and wanted to copy and learn how to do it. I don’t really care what its called so long as we are on the same page as to the pattern we are talking about. I am talking about old shale here to make an afgan.36″ wide by however long I would evently decide. So working with the multiples of 18 st plus 2 theory, I cast on 168 stitches (I also wanted a small 3 garder st edging so I added 6 co sts.to the overall 162 sts I thought would produce a throw using this pattern making 9 hill and 8 valleys and edging. I’ve now torn it out twice because I consistantly can’t make this pattern work. So maybe you can straigten me out and say where I am going wrong here. on the Lacy row 3 of the pattern it calls k3, k2tog 3 times, and yo, k1, k2tog repeatedly until the desired width and then at the end where it just is k2 tog 3 times,k3 again. Won’t that change the pattern on the row 3? Because now the orginal 6 sts at beginning (the co sts) are now decresed to 3 sts after this row and decresed to 3 sts at the end of this row. I guess then that each subsequent row 3 of the pattern moves it over 3 sts (or puts the design over 3 sts) from the last row 3, When you do the next row 3 k2tog 3 times in the begining and end of the row, the sts get transferred by 3 sts from the way it was worked on previous row 3s. Or am I just nuts here.

  28. Oh I found the pattern I am using at Lion Brand website. Its called Cromwell Court Afghan pattern 9331AD
    a free download pattern.

  29. I finished the baby blanket in Old Shale Stitch. It looks great. I used a yarn that varies from white to turquoise to medium blue. It gave a crashing surf effect. Now that I’ve looked at more pictures of Old Shale Stitch and Feather and Fan I can see a marked difference between the two. Sometime in the past someone spent time and effort designing the two and I think it’s important to respect that by using the correct names for the stitches.
    Regards, Di

  30. I am a machine knitter, a hand knitter and a designer of lace patterns who has made and published studies of the history of both traditions. We have no written records of hand knit lace from the 18th c. but we have from the framework lace knitting tradition. In his book The History of the Framework Knitters (1831) Gravenor Henson describes a frameowork knitted lace pattern which arrived in England from Berlin in the 1770s. When I followed his description on the machine I got what most of us call Feather and Fan but which the Shetlanders apparently call Old Shale. The lace knitted products of framework knitting were “spider net” stockings, undershirts, neckerchiefs, head shawls etc. Their stocking stitch lace patterns were easy to copy and they no doubt copied from hand knitters. Go to Ruddington Framework Museum near Nottingham and study their
    early 19th c samplers. The earliest mention of Feather patterns i in the hand knit tradition is 1837 (Richard Rutt A History of
    Handknitting).The manuals for handknitters from the 1840s are full

    of Feather patterns (alias Shetland Old Shale), but at least the Shetland tradition begins to get a mention from the mid 1840s onwards. The Shetlanders have every right to have distinctive names for the patterns they have made their own.

  31. I’ve found this exchange so intriguing that I have been going through all my pattern sources until the 1930s. From the first mention in 1837 by Miss Watts in her Ladies Knitting & Netting book of what we now call Feather and Fan (Old Shale), this pattern has consistently been called “Feather”. Miss Watts has 3 patterns in the 1840 edition. One with 4 eyelets is like Mary Thomas’ Old Shale. In the 20th c Flora Klickman in her Modern Knitting Book (1916) has a pattern for a child’s coat in “feather stitch”. I have discussed this in my book Machine & Hand Knitting:Pattern Design (Batsford). In my Machine Knitting: the technique of Lace (Batsford) machine knitted a Pfauenfeder Muster (Peacock’s Feather) pattern from a 1920s issue of Kunstricken. If Gravenor Henson is to be believed the pattern came from Germany first to 18th c framework knitters. Actually, we can see examples at Ruddington, where incidentally, there is a sample showing a 5 stitches into 1 decrease on a delicate spider lace sample! I’ve photos in my books including the recently published Inspiration of Lace Knitting (see forthcoming articles in Slipknot, magazine of the Knitting & Crochet Guild).
    Now, this will interest Liz and Sharon – in my 1920’s copy of Woolcraft (this would be the work of Marjorie Tillotson of Paton & Baldwin’s), there is a pair of socks Victorian style, the main part being knitted in “Feather” pattern (Feather & Fan, Old Shale).In my copy of a 1930s Woolcraft, there is a stitch pattern which looks very much like Liz’s Feather & Fan and called a “Feather” pattern”. So the 2 patterns historically share the same name? I think what most of us call Feather and Fan (Old Shale) is aptly described. Finally,Miss Lambert in My Knitting Book (1847) gives a Shetland pattern for a shawl. I don’t recognise it and it looks interesting.This must be the first ever. Do Shetland knitters know it? You can download a copy from the Richard Rutt Collection at Southampton University. I’m so glad too that Glasgow University is now funding research into Shetland patterns. I hope the legacy of the hand frame is not forgotten. Thanks to Liz for starting this fascinating discussion in the first place.

  32. Eureka! The 25 stitch “Shell” (Shale?) pattern for a doily in Miss Lambert’s My Knitting Book (1843) and the unnamed pattern at each end of the Shetland scarf is an Old Shale type. Miss L. has no Feather (alias Old Shale, F&F) patterns in this book as she has in the second edition. Some of her patterns are “original, she says”. Others are not and in that category must be the ones she calls “Shetland”. The Shetland pattern I mentioned above is a little Leaf. I’m also hand knitting a stole in her Leaf and Trellis pattern which turns out to be a close variant of Print o the Hoof. She recommends it for the centre of a shawl. Is Frances Lambert giving us a tantalizing glimpse into what patterns Shetland knitters were knitting in the early 1840s? If not, what influence did the popular knitting books of the time have on Shetland knitting patterns? Richard Rutt tells us in A History of Hand Knitting that by 1847, 47,000 copies of this book (first edition) had been printed, translated into several European languages and re-printed in America.

    1. Dear Kathleen,

      Firstly, deep Respect!
      I’ve been trying to research early knitting lace knitting designs,and the cross-references between those, Shetland, and as, you have so cogently pointed out in your work, the frame knitted patterns. Regarding this particular pattern, I’ve found early examples of feather / shell in a bonnet back sampler – this is photographed in one of Mary Thomas’ titles and credited to the eighteenth century; but back in the 1930s, sources were not as listed in books as they are today. I know the pattern was familiar in the early 1840s (Charlotte Leander) and became known there as ‘peacock feather’ (to translate from the German).

      As you know, knitting and lace knitted artifacts are extremely hard to date without provenance, so I’m hoping one day science and illustrations/art may help by dating actual remnants and providing source dates for portrayals.

      Off the top of my head, I think The Workwoman’s Guide 1838, has an version of the ‘Shell’ pattern but as this is strictly designed as a utilitarian book, fancy lace knitting gets little mention. I have some baby socks knitted for Queen Victoria that came from Bonhams and have V2 embroidererd in. The lace designs in these are highly intricate and done in tiniest needles (c old UK 28?). But their presence speak volumes for the high standard lace knitting had reached in c1820. They may well have come from the Continent. Knitting took off at this period with it being a favourite pastime of Queen Adelaide, a brave and truly noble lady I have come to have deep affection for, she had a sad history of stillbirths etc, and I have a pair of child’s socks knitted by her when still the Duchess of Cumberland in 1824. They were given to a lady attendant for her own baby daughter and so treasured. Again, an added embroidered message in the knitted fabric states they were made by her. They are plain knitted though, but Court ladies took up knitting much more seriously at around that time probably in semi-deference to her as well as for pleasure, and hence some of the popularity of the craft (I think) by the 1840s as it filtered down. Queen Victoria’s governess was German and probably taught Victoria her knitting skills, though I only have a picture of this Queen late in life doing basic crochet. A subject close to our hearts, and I could go on and on!

      1. Sharon, I know and admire your work very much too. I’ve just looked up Mary Thomas’s Book of Knitting Patterns,p237 and there is the bonnet back featuring the Feather pattern. It looks to be knitted in cotton. Most authorities would agree that Mary Thomas got the date wrong. It was more likely late 18th c. The cotton previous to the invention of the spinning jenny in 1764 was of poor quality, alright for vests but since it broke easily, no good for lace by hand or by frame. Henson complains a lot about it in his book.There was some good quality from the East India Co. but very expensive. Feather patterns were used a lot on tops of mittens, muffatees. One reason – very stretchy. Now this one in MT’s book is very interesting and clever. I’ve recently had my research on the Knitting & Crochet Guild’s 1891 Sampler (63 patterns) published. See http://www.kcguild.org.uk/ Two of the patterns are what I call Feather without a Fan, where the decreases are not paired and are delayed over several rows. There is an example on the Guild’s web site (Collection). If the date is late 18th c. the hand frame could have been producing the same or similar patterns. I’ve a photo of a Ruddington sample where the decreases are bunched at the side of the Feather in multiple decreases! The MT bonnet looks as if clever decreasing has been incorproated into the shaping.
        Susanna Lewis is a good friend. We took her to Shetland with us some years ago. She went home to the US and a couple of years later, published her work on a mid-19th c German-Austrian knitted lace sampler in the Brooklyn Museum (Knitting Lace – now re-printed). That also has a Feather without a Fan pattern which Susanna confusingly calls Fan!
        Quite honestly, if we try to be too categorical about origins, we often end up being challenged. There are many things I love about Shetland lace knitting, not least the wonderfully evocative names the Shetlanders call the patterns. Mary Thomas decided to adopt the names but her friend and long time P&B designer Marjorie Tillotson in her Complete Knitting Book (1934) stuck resolutely to the historic name of Feather and not Old Shale..

      2. Hi Kathleen – sorry I don’t have your direct email- mine is sharonemiller2002@yahoo.com. Briefly what you write re breaking cotton was very interesting in enabling dating evidence, I know the Christening Cap and know a little about it including it was made in Lisle thread – obviously stronger, as the cap still survives! Earliest knitted lace was done in this or silk.

        We have to remember that Shetland was an important trade centre and I’m quite sure – but can’t prove it, that if nothing else, an interested sweetheart may well from earliest days (eg 1700s on) have bought in lace patterned knitting for his womenfolk at home. The men were rightly proud of their skills. As you and Liz know, once seen, it’s relatively easy to copy and adapt lace.Although the stockings then sold were finely spun and knitted the prices they attract make me suspect they may have had lace stitches worked in as was then becoming fashionable.

        Further, ladies on, or visiting, Shetland an important trade and naval base, would have worn finely made frame knitted and hand knitted stockings, mitts, and caps and these did have many patterns that look similar to ones in later Shetland shawls to my eyes. Not the same in all cases – similar. This view (i.e. to see is to learn or inspire) is born out by the known facts of the Christening cap made by Miss Laing in 1833 for an infant Ogilvy in the local Banking and Trading family – which is first readily copied according to Cowie’s account by a member of the then wealthy Ogilvy family of Lerwick into mitts, an invalid’s cap, and by 1839, a lace shawl, that eventually acts as an important stimulus to the lace shawl trade (Fryer, Knitting on the Hillside, and by the Fireside). I’m staggered to say that in April 2011, my research into this cap actually leads me to less than twenty miles from where I live!

        To get back to topic, what I have found so far from early knitting books (c 1840s) is that their ‘Shetland shawls’ are all based on what now we know as haps with the Shell/Shale borders often striped – white and scarlet, pink and white. The young Miss Rigby -pictured in Scottish Knitting (H Bennett, Shire Pubs) appears to be wearing such a white knitted shawl but like early Orenburgs (incidentally with a similar eyelet lace tradition – cat’s paw, laceholes) her shawl (c pre 1850? to judge from her fashionable silk dress) is fringed, not lace edged, and I think this is quite the fashion of the 1840s. It’s not till a little later that knitted edgings are suggested in these books, then it’s normally a simple hap-type triangle edging that’s used. (top of my head ref: Gaugain?) It’s safe for me to to say (at the moment!) Shetland Lace’s main twin knitting lace legacy is this Shell patterned Hap together with its upmarket sister the Crepe Hap done in fine lace wool thread, neither of which I’ve found in that form elsewhere in their knitting traditions. Additionally, how Shetlanders adapt and collate their own library of motifs in what is datably only about a century and then produce a unique shawl form (based on the Hap) with them is amazing. The experienced eye can then safely look at a shawl and say whether it is ‘Shetland’ even it is in another thread than wool because of this identifiable unique fingerprint.

        Although I see many patterns from early books in Shetland work they are (it seems to me to date) in the repetoire of most of Europe, especially Spain, Holland and Estonia; that’s how they get into the books in the first place and then to Shetland to be used and importantly adapted, into their own unique motifs such as the Spade, the Twins. etc. ‘Alice Maud’ shown in my Heirloom Knitting, is used in Shetland as a centre to a shell bordered hap but is in a Gaugain 1840s title and, that is likeliest itself in turn to be from the Continent – I believe the Azores/ Spain, Similarly, Rose Lace.

        So, though you do not need patterns from books, and some of the local Shetland names ‘Madeira’ ‘Spanish Lace’ do betray far flung origins as does the Fair Isle legend. By the late 1800s, I think Weldons’ knitting issues make input into Shetland patterns too, as their pattern names such as ‘Queen’s Lace, Coburg Lace, Irish Lace’ are collected by Miss Henry when she stayed with the Sutherland family (from Unst, then Lerwick, highly skilled prize knitters from an educated family that knitted for royalty includiing the late Queen Mother). This is ongoing.

        I’m not surprised, an interested knitter takes grateful inspiration where-ever it arises. Talking of that, I’ve just bought your book! Many thanks, in gratitude and admiration of all our knitter sisters and forebears,

      3. Sharon, Thank you very much for a most interesting reply with lots of info. I did not know. I agree with your approach entirely. I pointed out the quote from Henson’s book re. cotton to Richard Rutt – RR as he was affectionately known in the K&CG – and it is in his book too. A friend who is interested in costume history, did not think those bonnet backs in MT’s book “fitted” into the early 18th c. They belong she thought, to the last quarter of that century. The framework tradition in knitted lace began with the hand tooling of patterns (from Spain) on mitts etc in the year 1700. Henson describes some of them. We know there was a framework industry in Spain, France and Germany. My feeling is that these patterns were from hand knitting, but I don’t know.

        Felkin also tells us that he had seen “books” of patterns from the 18th c framework knitters. These could have been destroyed in the industrial troubles – frame smashing etc., but as you point out many patterns were put onto stockings, mitts, shoulder shawls. These would be similar to the haps you have in your lovely book. Ruddington has a collection of knitted samplers early 19th c There is a lot more to see at Ruddington since I was there years ago!
        I’m pleased you have bought Inspiration of Lace Knitting. The research on the 1891 Sampler was done 5 years ago and took 10 months of studying each pattern at Lee Mills where the K&CG Collection is housed and then on the photos I had taken digitally. I knitted a sample myself to be sure I had the pattern right and before I charted and wrote it up. In a couple of cases, I am still not sure I have it right and I’ve gone back to re-work Reasons: yarn deterioration, knitting muzzy in places and the sheer complexity of the patterns. The lady AF who knitted it was no “distressed gentlewoman but an extremly accomplished knitter of lace in 1ply cotton. I also took a long of time to write the 2 “histories” of Knitted Lace and Charting.
        Anyway, at the end of it all, the Guild could not publish the work and the CD lay in a box until a few months ago when Linda Williams wrote and asked if I had anything to interest her. The Guild
        generously agreed to her publishing it and suggested I wrote some articles on a selection of the patterns for Slipknot. This I have done and more has come to light! My email address is kathleen.kinder@btinternet.com Can tell you more by email.

      4. Just to correct my posting, the socks were made when Queen Adelaide was Duchess of Clarence in 1824, not Duchess of Cumberland as I posted earlier – sorry!

    2. “what influence did the popular knitting books of the time have on Shetland knitting patterns?”

      Very little in the early days! Most knitters, except the rich who bought the knitting of the poor, had no money for buying even cheap books. All the money they earned from their knitting went to feed the family… This was true in many cases well into the 20th Century.. That isn’t tp say there was NO interaction, but Shetlanders did (and do!!) tend to do things their way regardless of what the rest of the knitting world is doing!!

  33. Liz, do you know A History of Hand Knitting and author’ Richard Rutt’s careful and thorough researches on the Shetland Lace tradition, backed up by records? What Richard found was that it was outsiders who brought knitted lace articles into Shetland first c.early 1830s. He writes: “Some writers have surmised that Mrs Gaugain (author of several knitting pattern books from 1837 onwards -K) got her lacy patterns from Shetland. In fact, Shetland got its lacy patterns from the mainland…” That is not an opinion; he goes on and gives the evidence. Richard Cowie, for example, writes in his 1871 Guide to Shetland that Shetland open lace knitting “was not heard of until recently…”

    Can I please ask you what evidence you have that no outside pattern literature re. knitting patterns ever got to Shetland via the people who were instrumental in the setting up of the industry and who made suggestions to the knitters? See Richard Rutt who mentions the records of several people who showed items to be copied to the Shetlanders.
    I’ve had your work on Knitting beyond the Hebrides – Same but different in my Favourites for some time. It really is inspirational. . I’ve enjoyed the graphics very much and admire all the work, but as you may guess I don’t agree with all the “history”. Cat’s Paw by the way, is also an 18th c framework knitted lace pattern.

    1. I didn’t say things never got to Shetland from Scotland! I said that the average Shetland knitter didn’t have books – a very different thing! Shetlanders copied knitted items they saw, and used them as they saw fit. Patterns like Cat’s Paw will have come into being every time someone started to play with yos… The earliest piece of Shetland lace with a complete provenance is from 1837, a Christening cap, which is very complex – it certainly wasn’t a beginners piece.

      The other thing to remember is that Shetland is a collection of islands, and that transport was never very good. Some folk lived very isolated lives. What happened in Lerwick, where the ‘rich’ folk were, and what happened on the fringes were very different…

      And yes, I’ve got Rutt’s book – a very good piece of work, but he did do that work 40 years ago, and new stuff has been found/collated since….

  34. Liz, I’m sorry but there seems to be a slight misunderstanding. Of course, you are right about the transport. A few years ago, we had to run for the last ferry from Unst, never mind in the 19th c. ! Richard Rutt tells us of improved transport services from 1837 onwards as one reason for the Shetland lace industry taking off. His book was published in 1987. Have the records he quoted from the 19th c proved to be wrong then? If so, where is the research please? There is a mention of a beautiful christening cap on p. 173 of Richard’s book, knitted in the 1830s and the work of Miss Laing, daughter or sister of Samuel Laing, “candidate for the representation of the county”, but she is hardly a typical Shetland knitter. Her patterns would come from elsewhere, patterns which resourceful and creative knitters soon made their own, adding distinctive features as well.

    1. Yes, you’re right Kathleen,

      Miss Laing is the young daughter of the local MP and was from a Devon mother who died shortly after the birth of two children.

      The children are bought up by her sister MARY KELLY b 1789 –- She married after 1835 a Mr Clark, a retired jeweller, then lived in Switzerland and Geneva but was visited by Elizabeth and her father (Samuel Laing) in London c 1842 so presumably lived on but her date of death in unrecorded in the autobiography.

      MARY was sister to AGNES KELLY b 1791 – 1812 who marries SAMUEL LAING in 1808/9 (see his autobiography SAMUEL LAING of PAPDALE). They have one daughter ELIZABETH DOROTHY LAING (b 1809) and one son – another Samuel Laing (b1811) and this young boy lives to be another MP (like his father) for Orkney and Shetland. Mary is credited by Samuel with bringing up Elizabeth in Papdale and it is Elizabeth that is the likeliest to have knitted this christening cap that ‘is the probable starting point of lace knitting in the Shetland Isles at 1833.’ I think it plays a key role.

      Elizabeth would only be 20–22 when she made this. She was born in Edinburgh,and her mother (Agnes) dies in 1812 so the infant children are raised by older Aunt Mary who dotes on Elizabeth; and Samuel credits her well for this care. Unfortunately Mary was heart-broken by Elizabeth’s early marriage and seems to have cut herself off from the Laing family pretty much after her own speedy marriage in ’35 to an old jeweller. Elizabeth marries c 1833, has 2 daughters before her own husband Henry Baxter (b 1799) dies in 1837 leaving her quite a wealthy widow. I have no evidence of her remarriage.

      Incidentally, SAMUEL LAING had a sister MAY (1779 – 1838) but I ruled her out of being the potential knitter of the cap as she married and had had five children by her death in 1838 so would have had to have got a wriggle on as an elderly mother to be a ‘Miss’ still in 1833! There is no other live Laing sister in 1833.

      So, Mary’s skills were acquired in Devon perhaps!!! Small world! My ancestors would have certainly known of hers. Kelly House is nearby but unfortunately they have no further records that are applicable in this case.

    2. The other thing we need to remember in all this is that what survives is not necessarily a good representation of what was made at such early dates. Travellers to the Northern Isles in the 1750s refer to exquisite knitted lace (sorry – books are in store so I don’t have the references) in Unst… Unfortunately wool breaks down all too easily, and so is less likely to survive than the plant fibres and silk… And only the rich had the luxury of space to keep old things in conditions which preserve the fibres…

      As with so much in the fibre world, we will never be sure (and, dare I say it?) I’m not sure it matters…!! It is fun to speculate though – as long as we realise these are mainly theories…


      1. Liz, when there are a number of authentic records from a period in history which are in accord, you cannot call their evidence “theories”. I cannot comment on your reference to fine lace knitting being done in Unst in 1750 because I have neither read nor considered it. Moreover, I’ve never read of it anywhere else. I can quote though from the 1841 Statistical Account where John and Jane Ingram of Unst tell us that stockings and gloves are “the principal manufacture of this island” and that the fine ones were greatly prized. If there was lace in 1750 it would very likely be on the stockings and gloves, but that is a surmise, not a theory!

        So far we have not mentioned that initially, it was the fineness of
        the wool used in the making of the shawls and not particularly the
        patterns that caused the greatest admiration. I had an email the other day from Dr Angharad Thomas, the textile archivist at Lee Mills where the K&CG Collection is housed. She was in the process of cataloguing a fine Unst Wedding shawl and was full of admiration for its beauty. Richard Rutt however, points out Jane Gaugain’s comment in 1840 that Shetland knitting was all brown! It was the felicitous combination of yarn and of what the Shetland knitters did with patterns, many of which were well known elsewhere, that contributed to the world-fame of Shetland lace shawls.

  35. The pictures of Feather and Fan and Old Shale look decidededly different to me, so I can’t see how anyone could confuse one with the other. Others, however, seem to disagree and it has lead to a very longwinded taradiddle.

    1. Di, The Shetland knitters have every right to call patterns by the names they have chosen. The rest of us have every right to call them as they have come down to us through historic pattern literature. The Fan bit may have been added to the Feather during WWII, so what? It is a very apt addition.
      It is not so much as to how patterns look, it is how they are structured which makes one decide what they are. Both Feather and Fan (Old Shale) and Feather have a one line pattern. The 6 eyelet pattern is the most common but you can have as little as 4, then 8 or 10 etc. These all occur in Victorian pattern books. The structure is the same – the decreases piled at the edges and the eyelests in the middle The Feather pattern (Old Shale, F&F) in the 1920s issue of Woolcraft, the most popular knitting periodical of its day, is like Liz’s Old Shale, including the use of k2tog for left as well as right decreases. In the 1933 issue of Woolcraft, the Feather pattern is similar. It has nearly the same structure, but not quite, as Old Shale and of course, is followed by fewer un patterned rows. I think I can chart them for you: Old Shale (F&F): l ///olololololol/// 1933s Feather pattern (no 4sts at a time
      decrease) ///lolololololo/// 2 row repeat, stocking stitch. Both are Feather patterns, as determined by structure. The addition of “and Fan” points to the solid curve decreases in F&F (Old Shale).

  36. I didn’t question anyone’s right to give a name to a pattern. If someone invents a pattern then of course they have the right to name it. If an expert on the subject shows two photos and says that one is of Feather and Fan and the other is of Old Shale that’s fine with me. If others want to question the expert’s knowledge that’s up to them.
    I think this discussion has been prolonged because too many people haven’t bothered to read what others have said because they are in a great hurry to demonstrate their own ‘expertise’.

  37. Gosh! I hesitate to write 🙂

    I, for one have already gained from this and am grateful for the exchanges.
    For me, these postings have been most interesting and a good exchange of information – even if we have rather wandered from the original names topic, we have gone into closely related areas.

    I think if we continue to write with respect to known proven facts (and list sources as well as internet posting immediacy will allow) with respect and consideration to other posters then informed debate can do nothing but good.

  38. Please may I add a final PS. The most influential post WW11 publisher of stitch patterns is Barbara Walker. On p. 205, of A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, Vol1, she has Feather and Fan or Old Shale. It is the traditional Old Shale and not the garter stitch version as in the book compiled by the Shetland Guild of Spinners. Knitters, Weavers and Dyers and published in 2012 by the Shetland Times – A Legacy of Shetland Lace. This is a delightful book. I was pleased to see a warm tribute at the end to Sharon Miller’s work too.

  39. ok im new to all this knitting stuff=) but love it!
    i want to maket a blanket in the Old Shell pattern. can anyone tell me where to find written instructions? Thank you =)

  40. Hi Liz

    I have been looking for this pattern for a while until now and thanks to you I can finish what my mom started but I was wondering if u can email the pattern of the old shale so I can finish it, my mom lost the pattern that she order from and now she handed over to me so I can find and finish the project. If u could help, I would be appreciated and I will send a photo of the finish project. Thanks again

  41. Hi I am knitting a small towel with 5 rows of Old Shale Lace Stitch on one edge. Pattern says to cast on 54 sts and I am using 2 needles (so I believe it is what is called (to and fro). Row 1 and 2 is knit and row 3 is K2tog 3 times, (YO K1) 6 times repeat to the end of the row, Row 4 is purl. I am in a dilemma I never do patterns but thought I would be OK with a few rows however, I am OK with all rows EXCEPT when I get to the last row purl, where I have yarn over in the previous row (Row 3) I am not sure what to do when I get to purling the yarn over. Thanks for any help!

      1. Hi
        Since my post I have been doing it correctly and it looks so pretty. Thanks for your reply and have a great day!

  42. just putting my tuppence worth in here. I have been taught by old school knitters who as I happily knitted on very fine pins to get cobweb lace in many different patterns.. What is being described here as old shale/shell is what we call razor shell, the feather and fan has no knit ridge defining the pattern wave and of course old shell/shale does! My point is many of these names have been lost in the myriad of personal changes down through generations… better to admire and continue using these old patterns than discuss their right or wrong names as we each see them! I for one am happy they exist and long may they do so!

  43. Pingback: old shale stitch
  44. If you showed both pictures to someone who has never knit and asked them which pattern is
    ‘ feather and fan ‘ , they are going to pick the one that has a fan as a prominent feature . I do not see anything resembling a fan in the other sample.

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