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The Old Shale Stitch


The Old Shale stitch is a beautiful, rather delicate looking member of the Eyelet & Lace Stitch family.

The stitch resembles the shell of a clam or scallop, which is how it came by it's name. The style of knitting comes to us from the Shetland Islands in Scotland, where the inhabitants or Shetlanders, have quite a distinct accent* and tend to pronounce "shell" like "shael" which to a non-Scottish ear sounds like "shale". It should be noted that this stitch is often erroneously given or interchanged with the Feathers & Fans stitch which seems to have come about in the early part of the last century when the stitch arrived on American shores.

Scallop Sea Shells

So, what is the Old Shale Stitch? The stitch is distinct for it's series of 6 holes in each repeat, generated by yarnovers that are sandwiched between a series of knitting two together on either side. The act of alternating between the eyelets in the yarnovers and the decreasing caused by the series of knitting two together creates this wonderful wavy, wavelike pattern, which when combined with the fanning of the vertical wales producing the shell or "shael" like texture.

This stitch is commonly used as an edging pattern, such as for a babies blanket or as I have once witnessed, a tea-cosy. A simple reason for this is that it is easy to shape corners by simply increasing the stitches to 24 or 30 stitches for several repeats, thus creating 8 or 10 holes a repeat.

*Not that I can really point fingers as I come from a different part of Scotland and to non-Scottish ears also have quite a distinct accent.


Cast on multiples of 18 stitches for your project.

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