Sunday, July 24, 2011

Old Shale

I hope my readership isn't getting tired of reading about Scotland, because I'm not tired of writing about it... When in Orkney, I bought, as I have mentioned prior, hand dyed bumps, in both North Ronaldsay and Shetland wool, dyed by Pam Murray.  I spun up the North Ronaldsay in what I could create as a laceweight, with I hope not too short runs of color. 

Pooling of color in knitting variegated yarns is an interesting phenomenon that  I don't  understand it, and I don't really like it, so it's just a chance I take in case it does...

I am not big on combining a variegated color yarn with a complex lace pattern.  I chose to do Evelyn A. Clark's Old Shale Lace Shawl.  It's a garter shawl with old shale lace at the bottom, probably with origins as a working woman's shawl.  It's not a shawl that I would  buy yarn to knit, rather, it speaks to me as what this yarn that I've created needs. It also seems appropriate to the Scottish origin of my fiber. (Plus, I'm trying to graph a shawl that I designed, which incorporates old shale, and this project is helping me on my learning curve to understand how to manipulate and chart the old shale lace.)

Old shale is an interesting lace pattern.  It involves the right leaning knit 2 together (K2) with the left leaning slip slip knit (SSK).  Here's a graph snippet

o o o o o o \ \ \ / / /


E.g., from right to left K 2 tog 3 times, SSK 3 times, yo, k1 yo 3 times.  One could do more k2 tog/ssk/yo's to make wider border repeats.

For most of my life, I've been a slob, and anytime I needed to knit two stitches together, I knit 2 together thru the back loops (K2 tog TBL), just because it's easy and fast.  I am trying to rehabilitate myself from this sloppy habit, pay attention, and take a little more time.  With old shale, this is important to get the stitches leaning the correct way in to the yarn overs.

I often lose or gain stitches with this lace and I don't often frog back to fix it (yeah sloppy here too, but I can get lost in the frogging), but if I get lost, I look for the center stitch in the yarn over section, shown here with the top yellow headed pin, to reorient myself:

This center stitch goes straight up which makes it easy to find.

Evelyn says that this is a good beginner lace pattern;  I'm not so sure.  A novice knitter friend of mine tried it and gave up.  I find it can be difficult.

FYI, Liz Lovick does a very nice job of explicating old shale versus fan and feather at her blog, here.  Liz says that "old shale" is really "old shell" but acquired the name "shale" as that's how Shetlander's pronounce it.  So now you can pronounce "shell" like a Shetlander.  And you can add "peerie" with a rolled "r" and say "little shell"  "peerie shale"!  (OK, OK it's an in-joke).


  1. Hi Wendy,

    I love that I get your in joke of "Peerie shale" was it only 2 years ago? Also, a note on you previous blog, you have a way with presentation, you have a way!! And with a nice chilled glass of pinot grigio..."Summertime"

  2. I like the old shale pattern. Your yarn is lovely. And it looks way too complicated than it looks. However, that some find it difficult is new to me.

  3. Luv the pattern and the colours Wendy :-)
    I figured out a way to post on your blog again!!